Wait a minute, wait a minute – you haven’t heard that the traditional printed text method of communication is going the way of the dinosaurs? Weren’t aware of the fact that everyone now – seemingly regardless of age – prefers to watch a video to obtain their information rather than pick up a newspaper (what are THOSE?), read an ad or flip through a magazine? We’re going to compare the memory retention and engagement effect of printed text with the Church Announcement Videos medium, and show why, if you’re involved with a church, your house of worship should be at the very least using both.
The Reading Brain in Today’s Digital Age: The Science of Paper Versus Screens
As technology improves, the popularity of e-readers and tablets has been exploding to the point that many feel magazines and books are now “useless and impossible to understand for digital narratives” – that is, for people who have been raised on a steady diet of digital technologies from a very early age. But let’s put this into perspective: Babies touch everything. Young children who have never seen a tablet like the iPad or an e-reader like the Kindle will still reach out and run their fingers across the pages of a paper book, jab at an illustration they like and even taste the corner of a book. Today’s so-called “digital narratives” still interact with a mix of books and paper magazines, along with tablets, smartphones and e-readers; it seems that using one kind of technology does not preclude them from understanding another.
Still, video brings into focus an important question: How exactly does the technology we utilize to read CHANGE the WAY we read? How reading on screens differs from reading text on paper is relevant not only to the youngest among us, but to just about everyone who reads. This can include anyone who routinely switches between working long hours in front of a computer at the office and leisurely reading books and magazines at home, to those who have embraced e-readers for their convenience and portability but admit that, for some reason, they still prefer reading on paper…as well as to those people already dedicated to non-tree-harming approaches.
Into this discussion comes the issue of the way our brains respond to onscreen text as compared to words on paper – as digital texts and technologies become more prevalent, we gain new and more mobile-friendly ways of reading…but are we still taking all this in as attentively and thoroughly? Should we be concerned about dividing our attention between pixels and ink…or is the validity of such concerns merely – a little pun intended – paper-thin?
Since the 1980s, researchers in varying fields including psychology, computer engineering and library/information science have investigated such queries in more than 100 published studies. Though the matter is sometimes considered “by no means settled,” prior to 1992 most studies indicated that people read less comprehensively, less accurately and slower when looking at a screens than viewing text on paper. Studies published since then have, quite interestingly, produced somewhat sporadic results; case in point: A small majority has confirmed earlier conclusions, but almost as many have found few significant differences in reading speed or comprehension between screens and paper.
To make matters even more confounding, recent surveys have indicated that although a good amount of people reading more intensively still prefer printed text on paper, dynamic perceptions are changing as tablets and e-reading technology improve and reading digital books for facts and leisure becomes more common.
Your Church Announcement Videos vs the Bulletin Approach
Whatever your church calls those “Bible stuffers” that leak fluorescent pink sign-up cards all over the entrance foyer, they’re essentially bulletins and churches have been printing and distributing hundreds of them each week for years without even considering why. Traditionally, church bulletins keep the congregation informed of what’s going on at the house of worship and include lists of upcoming events, recent giving and attendance stats and some notes to accompany the sermon. They might even provide information for visitors and an opportunity for greeters to connect with these guests.
But even though printed weekly bulletins have effectively communicated these details for years, we have found many churches turning away from them for a few reasons including:
• The time-consuming and cost factor for printing hundreds or thousands of quality bulletins each week.
• The inability for any errors to be corrected without additional cost, as well as a lack of flexibility when it comes to printed bulletins.
• The fact that they’re growing obsolete as their congregation embraces new technology.
Alternatives to a Printed Weekly Bulletin and How They Can Co-Exist
Some churches that still care for a physical paper bulletin approach without the hassle and cost of weekly printing have been opting for a monthly bulletin – this method can save your church money, but must be planned further in advance so content isn’t as timely.
Video announcements have already begun to replace bulletins in many houses of worship – something we know very well – and are more engaging than a piece of paper. In keeping within the video realm, many churches have begun to make the information that would be included in a printed bulletin available through a mobile app.
What’s the best choice for YOUR church? Consider the culture and demographics of your congregation, and take notice of how many bulletins are just left crumpled in the auditorium after a service; if you find a way to more effectively disseminate information, don’t be afraid to make a change to the way you’ve always done things and incorporate Church Announcement Videos.