By William V. Beasley
Most gospel preachers and many other members of the church receive bulletins, bulletins and more bulletins. This is good up to a point. As the number of bulletins received multiplies, the likelihood of all being studied and digested of even read diminishes. Some, in fact, receive little more than a brief glance. Sadly, that which costs the money of our Lord has become junk-mail.
Only one who has been personally involved in editing, writing for, printing, stapling, addressing, maintaining the mailing list, etc. can appreciate the time that goes into a bulletin. It is oft times a labor-of-love. Our labor-of-love, the object of our time and talent, becomes the source of irritation, junk-mail, to another.
Why do some bulletins come to be received as junk-mail? The reasons are many, but, generally, fall into two major categories. First, those reasons which involve the receiver of the bulletin, and, second, those reasons dealing with the bulletin itself. We want to consider a few reasons why one man’s/congregation’s labor-of-love becomes another man’s junk-mail, and also to make a comment or two about each.
Concerning the Receiver
1. Not interested in spiritual matters. Shame.
2. “. . . don’t confuse me with the facts. ” This reason(s) might be expressed in any number of ways. For example, one might say or think, “it does not teach what I believe about ,” or “I’ve already made up my mind about that,” or even, “We are members of .” Still others think, “All it has is articles about.” My comment? Shame!
3. “The editor (writer) has a bad attitude. ” Such is all too possible (see below), but are you sure it is the attitude or the information? When we disagree with the information (are “pricked in . . . heart”) it is easy to yell “Bad attitudes!”
4. Too many bulletins. “Of the fifty bulletins I receive I read only the `best’ twenty-five.” Most preachers (with a change in numbers) could say “Amen” right here.
Concerning the Bulletins
1. Poor printing. This is, to me, the number one complaint. Yes, I know you cannot judge a book by its cover, nor the quality of a book by its cover, nor the quality of an article by the printing. But, my editor friends, when I receive ten bulletins at one time and two of these look like they were printed on a paper-eating press operated by a professional wrestler, guess which ones will be read last, if at all. I doubt that I am much different, in this regard, from others. I read some “poor quality” bulletins because of a personal interest in the local preacher, congregation, city or in the material, but this is the exception.
2. Poor design/layout. This would include the “jumbled look” (filling every nook with something), small print and broken articles (articles started on page one, continue on page four and concluded on page two). Yes, I know one ought to be spiritual enough to disregard all that, and most of us would (do), if we receive but one or two (ten or twelve) papers, but with fifty coming each week we, as somewhat normal people, reach for and read the more attractive bulletins. This is, most of the time, a subconscience reaction.
3. Personal ravings. It is possible for our writings and/or preaching to display the wrong attitude/spirit. I receive one bulletin (conservative congregation), I even asked for it, which makes me wonder about the attitude of the writer/editor. Having never met him (and being unable to see his heart) I will not/can not say he has an improper attitude, but I am made to wonder. Brethren, is your labor-of-love filled with sarcastic, cutting, biting, stinging remarks?
One solution is to put out better bulletins. A labor-oflove is never ugly to the laborer, so this will not help the preachers (I was asked to write this article) who receive forty-eleven bulletins regularly.
A post-card saying, “Please remove my name from your mailing list” usually works. This solution has one advantage. You do not have to defend your action. If you say “poor attitude,” you might get written-up, or at least called upon for specifics. If you point to “poor quality,” your spirituality or maturity is apt to be questioned. If you say “Since my friend is no longer the preacher there I don’t want your paper,” you may be considered a snob.
There is also a disadvantage to the simple “Please remove my name . . . .” Such does nothing to help the editor/congregation see the need to improve the bulletin in physical make up or in content. Even labors-of-love can be improved when the laborers are honest.
Oft times we do not ask that bulletins not be sent because we do not want to hurt feelings, or we do not want to open ourselves up, unneccessarily, for criticisms. As an editor/writer I have no right to be hurt or to think that someone is drifting from the faith because he does not want to receive my labor-of-love. I, and other preachers/editors, ought to be spiritually mature enough to accept such a decision without becoming upset (I have received such), or even thinking the “offender” is weak spiritually. All preachers are not writers or printers. One of my favorite preachers (puliteer) puts out one of the poorest bulletins.
Why This Article?
Besides being asked to write on this subject, I feel guilty receiving some bulletins which rarely get read. Surely, the Lord’s money could be better spent, so I feel an obligation to say “Stop.” If you are being benefited by receiving a bulletin, by all means continue to receive it, but if it is wasted on you, have the intestinal fortitude to say “Please remove my name . . . ,” “Stop,” or something. It is, brethren, the Lord’s money.
Guardian of Truth XXV: 12, p. 189
March 19, 1981