Receiving a church bulletin as you walk into a worship service has been the norm for decades. Certainly, church leaders have put the bulletin through several facelifts over the years. However, perhaps the most significant shift in recent years has been the move to a church app version of the bulletin. Understandably, we've seen a considerable shift and adjustments made during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Some have disbanded the print bulletin during COVID-19 and others have brought it back. Overall, church communication tactics continue to make rapid shifts.
Below are some stats from the “State of Church Bulletins 2020” by useBltn.com:
- 55% of survey responders have stopped using print bulletins regularly.
- 63% of responders stopped printing a bulletin during COVID-19 because of health concerns; 37% continue to print bulletins.
- 88% of survey responders live stream their services.
- 49% of survey responders were live streaming before COVID-19.
- 99% of survey responders use Facebook as their top social media platform, followed by Instagram (67%) and Twitter (26%).
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns seems to have been the catalyst that caused many churches to finally make the switch to digital communications. From what we are seeing, over half of churches have dropped their print bulletin once and for all and are looking at modern alternatives such as digital bulletins, church apps, and texting platforms,” says Justin Funk, founder of useBLTN.com.
Additional Church Bulletin Research
I also ran my own independent survey in the Church Communications Facebook Group. Here are some of the interesting results from 379 responders in the group:
- 156 churches did away with a print bulletin during COVID-19 and have a website with no church app.
- 100 churches did not have a print bulletin pre-COVID-19 and do have a church app.
- 46 churches have a church website and no print/digital bulletin or church app.
- 24 churches produce a full-sized print bulletin.
- 17 churches create a print bulletin with a church app.
- 12 churches did away with their print bulletin during COVID-19 and now have a church app (I thought this number would be much higher).
- 8 churches are producing a simplified, shorter print bulletin.
- 20 or so churches use other digital communication methods instead of a church bulletin including a combination of their church website, church app, social media, church texting solutions, email (PDF and church enewsletters), and YouVersion Events for Churches.
- Lastly, some churches that had previously done away with the print bulletin before COVID-19 actually brought the print bulletin back.
I’ve worked in the church apps industry for eight years, and in all of that time, I have never truly understood the value of church apps until COVID, comments John Holtkamp, product owner of church apps at Tithe.ly. “So much love was poured our way because of how churches could continue doing everything remotely and really harnessed the power of what could be done with their app.”
We'll have to wait to see what will trend when COVID-19 requirements cease. Will people have a hunger to hold a print bulletin with a service order in hand again? Will we be tired and worn out from this tech-heavy period in history? I'm hearing from many people that after being online working via Zoom all day, the last thing they want to do is join a Bible study by Zoom and do everything digitally. If I was going to make a prediction, I would say that there will be a trend back to analog communication tools (print bulletin, newsletters, phone calls, in-person gatherings) like we've never seen before once the world is back to normal.