For the last ten years, I’ve been designing what I think is a pretty nice parish bulletin. It’s been part of my evolving job on our parish staff, and it’s something I really enjoy.
And it involves more than just the printed paper we hand to parishioners on Sundays.
As part of my work in the parish, I’m also our parish webmaster, which includes social media.
The two aspects of my role go hand-in-hand: the bulletin and the online ventures use much of the same information. We have a highly visual and graphic-heavy bulletin, and I use many of those graphics in other places.
Recently, our pastor (and my boss) reminded me of what our bulletin is out to accomplish. It “is more than a bulletin of facts and meeting information. It is a vital tool that projects the image of our parish. It fosters community. It engages readers.”
To get our parish bulletin, you pretty much have to walk through the doors of our parish (either our church or our activity center) or find the link on our website. There’s opportunity with that. There’s also limitation.
On the topic of our website, Father had this to say: “The New Evangelization means making the Good News present in forms that engage others. Maintaining a dynamic informative presence on the Internet is the first line of evangelization.” To that end, we strive to create opportunities for faith enrichment by linking resources and people and maintaining a current access to homilies, announcements, and promotions.
The website, then, puts the information out where it’s easily found by a different (online) audience.
The internet and social media have made the Catholic Church more accessible than ever. People can check out a parish long before they ever physically show up for Mass.
You can learn a lot about a parish from its online presence. You can find out the physical locations and times for things, but you can also get a sense of personality. What’s the pastor’s homily sound like? How does religious education registration work? What’s the bulletin say?
OK, so I made the last question up because it makes me feel better. But much of our online content comes from our bulletin. And if you’re used to reading and writing online, you can apply that skill set to your parish bulletin.
The new parish bulletin is online: literally, because you can probably download it, but also in other ways. A lot of the information that used to be in the bulletin or in periodic newsletters is on our parish blog and social media, sometimes in addition to and other times instead of in the parish bulletin.
The New Evangelization begins at home, and for me, that als0 means my home parish.
What can YOUR parish do to grow in this area? How can you offer to help? What excites you about this idea?
Copyright © 2013, Sarah Reinhard
4 responses to “The New Parish Bulletin Is Online”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Sarah, Your post rings very true with me, as I also work in a parish (an area faith community of four parishes actually), and know that we need to improve our on online presence. So I have some questions…
How many people provide content for your website? How many hours per week are spent updating/maintaining it?
I feel like we are in the same position as many parishes and can barely keep up with the “A” priority tasks each week, let alone derive new content for the web.
Hi Mary, and thanks for your comments. First, to answer your questions:
The content for our website mainly comes from me (and from what I’ve gotten together for the bulletin, so there’s some from our pastor as well).
I spend about 2-3 hours a week on the website, blog, and Facebook posts we do.
In fact, my position is dedicated to the bulletin and the website. I’m not even fully part-time, but these are among my top priorities in my own job. I think that probably helps it to remain on my own “A” list, which keeps it from being lost.
I’ve heard of other parishes having a volunteer or a group of volunteers who cover these things. It’s important to have a set of standards and to know what fits into the mission and values of your parish so it doesn’t look like someone different or someone not in line with the pastor is doing the work.
Also… (thought of it just as I hit enter on my previous comment) my boss would like to include a recording of the Sunday Mass on our website. My first thought would be to upload it to YouTube, and just link to that on our site. Do you think that would be the right first step?
Mary, we use libsyn for homilies and then link that to our parish website. They hold the audio files and then I can make a little player to show it on the parish website or just share a link if anyone wants to download it to their phone or mp3 player.
We use Youtube for our weekly announcements video and other videos Father does, so we do also have a Youtube channel.