Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 7, 1953

Comic Bulletins

William E. Wallace, Hickory, North Carolina

The bulletin published by the congregation reveals the editorial qualifications of its editor, the ability of the mimeographer, typist and what have you. Indiscretion is often manifested in the material published in the name of the church. Often ignorance and foolishness is disclosed. It seems to me that it is the responsibility of the congregation to put out a decent bulletin if it is to have one at all. I receive many bulletins through the mail and appreciate them. Some are excellent, others cast reflection upon the congregation, upon its preacher. It seems to me that any thing that has "Church of Christ Bulletin" at the top ought to be neat, inspiring, edifying, and well arranged. Incidentally, why not just name your bulletin instead of using the phrase "Church of Christ" adjectively to describe what kind of bulletin you are publishing? I do not know anyone that puts out the perfect bulletin. Mistakes no doubt will be made. I would not try to criticize every slip or blemish in bulletins for I know the bulletin I compile often falls short of what it ought to be. However I do have a "pet peeve" I feel should be aired. Here tis: Many of the bulletins published by congregations are nothing more than church comic strips. I do not think that the church bulletin should be a medium in which to exhibit funny pictures, nor do I think it looks good to see a figure barely resembling a human being yet meant to represent a church member pictured on the front page of the "Church Bulletin." Here we have it: First page at the top — "Church of Christ Bulletin." Below that, some figure resembling a person (?) with a size 15 foot, a size 6 1/4 head, a 48 inch waist, with a mouth stretched from ear to ear, a nose that would put W. C. Field's to shame, an ear that looks like it belongs to the burro family and a line comes forth from the figure's mouth and forms a circle which encloses the following words: "Hey! We missed you last Sunday, won't you please be there this Sunday?" Of course some of the illustrations are not so funny: A character with a pleased look on his face is hot-footing it down a crooked road which leads to an open pit full of flames and the old scratch awaits behind a rock with his pitchfork poised for the kill. My bulletin may not be worth much but I had rather print Hebrews 10:26 under the caption "Church Bulletin" than have some of the silly looking stuff like that which appears in the name of many congregations. Illustrations have their value, and so do words. Words are good if the right kind of words, illustrations are good if the right kind of illustrations. The simple read funny or comic books for their pass time reading, the wise feast on that which leads them on to greater accomplishments for humanity, for the church, and for God.

I understand that books of cartoon ideas for the church bulletin can be bought. I think I will publish one entitled "Ideal Joker For Pulpit and Bulletin." This may sound sarcastic but it is motivated by my reactions when I see a sectarian pick up a bulletin published by some congregations with the productions of a would be artist on the front page. I hope some of the preachers can preach better than they draw and I pray they produce better thoughts in their sermons than produced in their bulletins.

I think the church bulletin has its values: It eliminates announcements during services, it serves as a medium for reports, it keeps members informed concerning essential matters, it serves as a weekly reminder of various duties and other things, it helps arouse interest in church affairs, it offers informative lessons and devotional thoughts, it gives some members opportunity to put in writing worthwhile thoughts. But I see no place in the bulletins for comic cartoons.

Visual aids are effective in teaching, but in using visual aids we should consider what effect will be made on all who may read. Do the visual aids express scriptural thoughts, do they represent the truth, do they display foolishness, do they demonstrate flippant attitudes, do they manifest ignorance? I am not a comic strip artist; if I were I would not use the bulletin of the church to display my talents of drawing funny pictures.

How about jokes? I have printed jokes in the bulletin that I wish I had omitted. The right kind of humor is good in the sermon and in the bulletin. Jokes often carry and drive home a point effectively. When a preacher injects humor into his sermon just to be laughed at I think he is making a mistake. When he does it to illustrate a point, I think it may be good and effective. The same applies to the bulletin. Jokes and illustrations may be good if they are the right kind, if they draw attention to a problem or point, if they are not just "plumb silly."

The main thing to consider is the effect on the recipients. As the preacher of the local congregation it is our duty to preach and teach whether oral or written in such a way as to glorify the church. We must not give the church a bad name, a silly reputation, or a foolish appearance by what we write, draw or say. If these thoughts help us all to be more discreet in what we print in the bulletins I consider the article worthwhile.