I’ve been preaching the gospel for 17 years, I have been writing bulletin articles for 17 years, and for 17 years I have heard from a variety of brethren at a variety places and times the exact same thing, “Nobody reads the bulletin”. Why do people say that?
The truth is, in part, because it’s true. When brethren say “Nobody reads the bulletin” that doesn’t literally mean “nobody”. They are using “nobody” figuratively, meaning “most people”. It’s like me saying that “Everybody that says ‘Nobody reads the bulletin’ is spiritually shallow’” I wouldn’t literally mean everybody, just that some people that would say that are. It’s a figure of speech that “everybody” uses “all” the time (see what I just did there). So if you’ve made it this far, let me extend to you a sincere “Thank you”.
I’ll let you in on a little secret of authors and bulletin publishers everywhere: We don’t write and publish for everybody—we only write and publish for one person. Of course, that may seem like a waste of time and ink; but the authors and publishers believe differently. They believe, that if only one soul reads the bulletin, and takes the message to heart, and learns, is encouraged, is exhorted to action—then it was all worth it. It’s like the shepherd; he is only searching for one sheep, (one “kind” - which may also coincidentally be only one in number) and when he has found that one sheep, then all of the work and sacrifice was worth it—because he loves that one sheep enough. (Luke 15:4-7)
Now, who is this “one” person in the church for which we write and publish? The answer is quite simple. It’s not “one” person in number, it’s more like one “kind” of person. For example, we may pass out 40 bulletins here on a Sunday. That’s just like the Sower going out and sowing the seed. When we sow the bulletins each week, some will land on the roadside soil (these are usually the bulletins that immediately get folded up and put in a bible and/or the first available trash bin). Some of the bulletins may land on the rocky soil (these are usually the bulletins we find left in the seatbacks the next week). They are quickly glanced over and then quickly discarded. Then there are some that light upon the thorny soil (these are ordinarily actually read (usually to search for speling errors by the author), but never really applied). And then there are those bulletins which land upon the good soil; some producing 30 fold (they take the bulletin to heart), and some 60 fold (they take it to heart and share the teachings with their close friends and family), and some 100 fold (they apply it and share it with anyone and everyone). (Matt. 13:1-23) Be the good soil. Week in and week out... be the good soil.
Let me be clear. It’s not a sin to not read the bulletin (...maybe). It all depends on the heart of course. Bulletins should be filled with biblical instruction that nourishes the soul. We strive to provide that every week in ours whether it’s an article written by one of the local preachers or one we’ve selected to share from elsewhere. The goal at the heart of every publication “is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (I Timothy 1:5), and to “preach the word... reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (II Tim. 4:2) Our work and hope, is your edification and growth.
The bulletin, like every work of preaching and teaching, is a tool. It’s a tool that’s placed in the hands of the worker, and the worker then decides what to do with it. Will they discard it, abuse it, or will they use it for the intended purpose and to the desired effect? The bulletin is published for the one—the one who will use it, and use it wisely.
It is true that some brethren use the bulletin only as a tool to gauge whether the preacher is working or not. It is true that some brethren see the bulletin as a tool for others, but not for themselves. It is true that some brethren view the bulletin as a waste of time and money. It is true that some brethren view the bulletin as a useful bookmark for their bible. But it is also true, that some brethren, many brethren, need the bulletin. They read the bulletin, are strengthened by the bulletin, grow and mature by the bulletin, and value and appreciate the bulletin. Those are the “ones” we are publishing it for, and hope that you are among them.
Yes, “Nobody reads the bulletin”. But you aren’t a nobody. You are a somebody, and we love you. We are publishing it for you, and we hope that it will always be a beneficial tool for you to learn, and grow, and mature as a Christian. “He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:9) May you always be that “one”.