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February 18, 2013

Sunday Worship Bulletins

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

This weekend when you came into church on Sunday, you most likely noticed something different: For the first time since May 2012, we printed out the entire worship liturgy in our weekly bulletin. We did not make this move without giving it considerable thought. However, after months of issues concerning the ease of following our worship service on Sunday mornings, this is a change that was needed.

In May 2012, we announced that starting in June, we were not going to print the entire worship liturgy any more. During the summertime, as is custom here at Saint Matthew’s, we following the Javoslav Vajda Hymn Service and used pre-printed cards from June through early September when we formally started using the liturgies printed in the Lutheran Service Book. Of course, we printed a two-page worship outline in our bulletin that served as a guide, especially for those visiting our congregation.

In September, we also began to formally publish a small number of large worship bulletins for those within our congregation who, for one reason or another, needed larger print. However, during the ensuing months, the total number of these printed large worship bulletins expanded greatly. Several weeks ago, after doing a little math, we realized that we were using more paper printing weekly announcements, a two page worship outline, and large worship bulletins than we were when we were printing out the entire liturgy prior to May 2012.

The reasons for the increased usage of large printed bulletins came down to one essential reason: It made worship easier.

Even though our worship services followed the printed liturgies in the Lutheran Service Book, more and more people were finding it cumbersome to play “hymnal gymnastics:” flipping pages, scouring the worship outline to find the Introit or the Psalm of the Day, figuring out exactly what parts of the liturgy were being used on a particular Sunday, etc. More and more people were having difficulty when they came to our worship service.

And if regular worship attendees were having problems, I can only imagine the issues visitors to Saint Matthew’s were having.

When members and visitors have issues following our worship service, they lose part of the importance of why they come to worship in the first place. If they can’t figure out if we’re going to sing the Hymn of Praise in a particular church season, then we have to rethink how to help people prepare for worship. Therefore, we’ve decided to print our liturgies once again.

Also, we’ve decided to reduce our large printed bulletin print out by about 90 percent. Yes, 90 percent.

And believe it or not, even with printing the liturgy and announcements on weekends, we’re actually going to save paper when compared to our recent large-bulletin output.

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