A few months ago on a random Friday, I got a frantic text from the secretary at the parish whose bulletin I was designing. The content was even scarier than the current Halloween thrillers: "We got the wrong church's bulletins!"
It was Friday morning. It was too late to get new ones. What would we do?? My mind started racing as I got on the phone with customer support.
Thankfully, after further investigation, it turned out only one of the boxes was incorrect, so they had enough to get through most of the weekend, and since they send the bulletin digitally as well, it wasn't a big deal.
Something similar happened a few weeks ago at my own parish: Flooding at the printing company meant no bulletins were delivered for the week. The mass confusion on everyone's face said it all: But how will we know what's going on?!
Nevermind that we also have Flocknote, robust social media, and the pdf bulletin on the website...you just don't deny a Catholic a bulletin.
All of this got me thinking...what if the bulletin didn't exist?
Now don't get me wrong: I am pretty old school and appreciate a physical bulletin every week despite being a millennial. (I also don't like surfing the internet on my phone, so maybe I'm just a grandma at heart.)
But seriously, what if the bulletin didn't exist? How would you communicate with your parishioners?
I know that the pandemic accelerated the "digital bulletin" being sent out weekly, whether it's laid out in a Mailchimp or MailerLite format or a pdf copy sent out via Flocknote or Tilma.
But it's typically just the same bulletin content being sent out in a different way.
What if we reimagined the entire point of the bulletin?
What if, instead of a list of upcoming events, the calendar for the week was prominently displayed on the church website, with easy access to learn more, have others-centered descriptions (answering why come to the event), and clickable registration links?
What if, instead of promoting group meetings, we had "ministries of the week" who were able to set up information outside the doors of the church after Mass, take over the social media accounts for the day, and share a testimonial video from their members?
What if, instead of asking for volunteers, someone wrote for the parish blog about how raking leaves or being a catechist impacted their faith?
What if, instead of listing out the Mass intentions in the bulletin, they were displayed in a frame near a statue of the Blessed Mother in the sanctuary?
What if, instead of eliminating the bulletin altogether, it became a periodical, with articles about faith, profiles of parish families, and reflections on the readings to take home and pray with throughout the week?
Maybe the problem isn't with the bulletin after all. Maybe it's the way we're using this valuable space and attention from our parishioners.
Because after all, what's the ultimate goal: have more people at the altar society's potluck or bring people into deeper relationship with Christ?