What Goes in Your Church Newsletter?

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In my role as Church Juice producer, I spend a lot of my time talking and consulting with churches across Canada and the United States. Many CRC's are currently wrestling with the validity of the monthly (or quarterly) newsletter. So I'd love to hear from you:

  • Do you still have a church newsletter? Why or why not?
  • If you have a newsletter, what do you put in it? What are you communicating?
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We have a monthly church newsletter that contains a note from our pastor/interim pastor, birthdays, calendar events, council notes, finance statement, missionary updates, and other news or updates from church members or organizations we support.  

Around a year and a half ago, we reformatted our bulletin. We made some good changes, but it left us with less space for announcements so some of what previously went into the bulletin is now found in the newsletter.

For us, our newsletter feels like a good way to get out a lot of information all in one place.  

Guide

Thanks for the feedback Rachael! Do you feel like the reformatted bulletin & newsletter help you communicate more effeciently to your congregation?

I personally do, but there was a bit of an adjustment period because people were so used to everything being in the bulletin. We are using less paper now, so that's a good thing.

One of the problems I've run into was once in a while someone would ask for something that really is a newsletter item to be put in the bulletin because "no one reads the newsletter." Sometimes you can still put it in the bulletin (which people have also told me no one reads) but other times I have to put my foot down and just say that we just need to let people know this information is in the newsletter. This hasn't happened as much recently though.

A few years ago I started using the free version of MailChimp to let people on our email list know when a newsletter comes out instead of just a regular email. What's nice is they give you statistics as to how many people are reading it. I also print out around 40 physical copies (a number from a kind-of trial and error) because not everyone is super tech savvy.

Community Builder

Trinity CRC's newsletter here in Rock Valley IA, called "News & Views," is published every other month. It typically includes:
   :: a couple articles/reflections on Christian living in general (this month we featured a couple pieces focusing on prayer)
   :: introduction to the next Song of the Month (we intentionally (re)learn a new(ish) song each month)
   :: highlights from recent council meetings
   :: updates on some of the church's ministries and/or mission partnerships
   :: introductions to new members and highlights of significant events (births, marriages, transfers)
   :: 2 featured families (who they are, where they live, how they met, best day of my life, best vacation, favorite Scripture, etc.)
   :: list of members serving in a military, each issue featuring one of them with a bit more detail

We include numerous photos throughout, especially on the cover. It's printed in full color on tabloid-size paper, folded in half, usually 12 pages long. It's been very well received in large part because it's one way we nurture community, helping people get to know one another. It's also a way to communicate our church's values and/or things we're celebrating and looking forwards to.

Guide

Sounds like you're being very strategic with your newsletter, which is great! How do you feel like you're nurturing community well by using the newsletter? What can other churches learn from what you're doing?

Community Builder

Hi Bryan! Something the leadership at Trinity CRC often hears is how it's hard (impossible, actually) to know everyone in a large congregation. The newsletter will not enable us to know everyone; however, it serves as a useful tool to help keep people in the loop about events and fellow members which we trust serves as one way to help people recognize they are indeed part of a community.

This question is less about what goes in the newsletter, and more about how to reach church constituents.

We publish a print version of the newsletter, and then post it to our subscribers through Mail Chimp. It's graphic-intensive (traditional approach in Publisher) to entice non-techy folks to read its contents, but creates disenfranchisement for those who prefer quick text and responsive format online.

How did your church choose a communication strategy that works for your church life people? How did you come to a decision about choice of format and choice of media?