Growing up at my grandfather’s church, bulletins, or “programs” as they use to call them, were not given out every Sunday. They were saved for special events like Women’s Days, Men’s Days, and Pastor’s Anniversary services. Same, too, for the second church I belonged to. Then, after graduating from college, I began attending a nondenominational church, and within a year, they had pretty much made up for all those years of bulletin depravation. At every service, the ushers were there, happily pushing one into your hand.
There was more than one service.
And in my new member glee, I often attended two, sometimes three.
Needless to say, my purse soon looked like a recycle bin.
At my current church, an Anglican/Episcopal parish, things aren’t any better. In fact, it’s kind of worse because we really need those bulletins stuffed with leaflets with that week’s Scripture readings. They are essential to follow along, to stay in the flow of the service.
I was thinking of churches and their unintentional deforestation yesterday when I read a post at Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff about bulletins:
“I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t.” My wife said, shaking her head as she sat down next to me at church.
“What? What couldn’t you do?” I asked, a little concerned.
“I couldn’t refuse the bulletin. That lady at the door is so nice, but I just wanted to tell her, ‘Nah, I’m good.’” Jenny said.
“I mean, I’m not doing the fill in the blanks and know most of the stuff in it already. I’m just going to put it back in the basket at the end of the service.” She said.
I immediately thought about that Mitch Hedberg joke. He says that when someone hands you a flyer in New York, what they are really saying is, “Here, you throw this away.”
But we’re not throwing our bulletins away. We’re not sweaty Philistines. We love Jesus.
Is there a way to politely shotblock the bulletin if you don’t need it? Can we claim it’s a green thing? Like we’re doing it for the earth and mother nature and Whole Foods and Kale? Is that possible?
Some churches have wisely started putting stuff online so people can access through their smartphones or tablets. Technically, I could probably something similar since the readings are available over the web, but trying to stay up with what’s going on and switching back to my phone for verses would ultimately lead to distraction. In all honesty, it’s already hard enough to get to church two towns aways by 8AM. Plus, there is still the matter of flipping to the right pages in the hymnals and the Book of Common Prayer… yeah, Piskies have a lot going on.
Is this a problem for you?