Church Newsletter? Get Real(ness).
Newsletters are a great way to keep members in the know about current events and happenings in the church. At Design Pickle, we mail a printed newsletter out to our community every month with letters from our founder, features of a stellar designer, pickle-themed recipes and fun, unique graphics throughout. This keeps our members engaged in what’s going on with us so they’ll be more inclined to tell us what’s going on with them.
The key to a great newsletter is to engage members with realness. Create content that matters and keep them reading with creative design. Whether you send out a printed newsletter or an email newsletter, below are five ways to create one that your entire ministry will want to read:
Include a “letter from the editor” written by a distinguished head figure in your ministry. This should include some sort of anecdotal story that helps members feel like they are connecting with this head figure personally.
Add a picture of him/her dressed down, hanging out with family or participating in a fun activity to personalize!
Ask current members to write a feature. Ask around the church (social media platforms come in handy for this) to find someone who has an inspiring, funny, or touching story they’d like to share with the church. You’d be surprised at how many people would actually be honored to do your writing for you! This will also build rapport with your community; the more members know about one another, the stronger the bond of the entire community will be.
Look for stories that line up with a particular topic or theme that is being promoted through your ministry during the time your newsletter is released. Be sure to mention any upcoming sermons or events that relate to this topic and – if your newsletter is digital – link to any recent content that relates to the topic as well. This will help members truly understand how lessons from the church can be applied to real-life situations.
Encourage donations, don’t beg for it. One of the biggest turn-offs in any advertisement – whether it’s from your local church, your favorite shoe company, or Amazon – is being poked and prodded to empty out your pockets. If you’re going to ask for donations in your newsletter, do so in a way that makes the member feel like they are gaining something rather than giving you money.
If you have a youth program that needs some extra funding, write an article about what it is that the children learn in the program. Include pictures of past events with children playing, laughing, and coming together to discover their own spiritual journey.
At the very end of the article, throw in a line that asks the question, “Do you want to help a child in our community unlock their full spiritual potential? All they need is $20 and five minutes of your time on [insert website link to collect donations].”
Instead of feeling as though they are giving away $20 to a church that already seems to have a lot of funding (this may not be the case, but members do not know your finances and will make assumptions), they now feel as though they are gaining the opportunity to impact a child’s spiritual journey. It’s easier to justify contributing to spirituality cultivation in youth than it is to justify giving money to a faceless donation form.
Keep the class, but add some sass. The #1 universal marketing rule is to always market towards your target audience. While we sometimes have the stigma of “church” being a place to wear your best, button your lips, and avoid talking about the drinks you had during happy hour on Friday night, this just simply isn’t true anymore. Your ministry is filled with real people who like to laugh, swear, read, and watch funny kitten videos on Youtube!
These people – real, playful, thoughtful, curious people – are your target audience. By no means should you use profanity or promote anything against your religious values in your newsletter, but adding a little more realness to your writing will be the reason somebody finishes the story instead of skipping the page entirely.
Use vernacular that your audience can relate to. You wouldn’t speak to a friend today the same way you would have thousands of years ago, so avoid quoting excerpts word-for-word from your book of worship. Instead, try to explain the meaning of the quote, value, or excerpt. A great way to test the realness is by reading your passage out loud to a child. If they can summarize the point and relay it back to you, you’ll know that you’ve written a passage that everybody will be able to truly understand and apply to their own life.
Keep them entertained by adding some fun elements like memes, jokes, and images to break up pages with a lot of text.
If your church gives out statistics of membership or donations, use infographics to display the numbers in a way that everybody can understand and appreciate. While the members may actually want to know the information regarding these trends, a white page filled with numbers may seem intimidating or boring and they’ll skip over the section entirely.
Another great place for imagery is in lists of information. If you are announcing weddings past, listing holiday service times or coordinating youth program dates, use a relevant picture to give more importance to the event. Ask each newly married couple for their favorite picture from the service – this will give you a chance to further engage with the community and you’ll have some beautiful, professional photography in your newsletter for free!
The best newsletters make you feel like you’re talking to a friend.
Because you are talking to a friend! Every member of your church community is a friend. Choose content that you’d want your best friend, your spouse, or a co-worker to read. Keep it real, keep it fun, and the readers will just keep coming back.
Written By: Rachel Clements
Marketing Coordinator, Design Pickle