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At the last congregation I served, I inherited a problem. The church planned to build a new foyer and sanctuary, but a third of the congregation had been persuaded to oppose this building project by a couple trouble-makers who spread false rumors about the high rates of insurance they’d have to pay. I went out and asked insurance companies how much the extra insurance would cost, and then I published that information in the next monthly newsletter. The rumors melted away.

Churches spend a lot

Churches spend hundreds of dollars a year to publish and mail their newsletters. And what do these newsletters usually contain? In-house information. Things like birthdays, anniversaries, prayer requests, etc. – often the same information they put in their bulletins every Sunday. So they end up spending a lot of God’s money repeating what everyone in the church already knows.

In my 30+ years in ministry, I have made the newsletter a high priority. Our monthly circular has the usual stuff – a calendar, prayer requests, birthdays, and so on. But each newsletter has at least two articles: One is doctrinal and the other is devotional. I believe these articles to be the most important parts of the newsletter because they help shape and form the thinking of the readers.

If you publish a paper newsletter, there are few insights I’ve learned over the years:

1) Avoid white, blue, red, and green paper. White doesn’t grab attention and the other colors are generally hard to read.

2) Your readers will read the front and back of your newsletter first. That’s where you should put your high-priority items. We place the opening paragraph of our two articles on the front page (continuing them on page two) and put a list of upcoming events on the back page. The articles should not be longer than about 500 words.

Write your vision. Make it plain.3) The calendar and birthday/anniversary/baptism dates are placed in the middle of the newsletter and this is the page people seem to save and put on their refrigerators.

4) Next, people tend to read the inside pages from left to right and top to bottom. Thus, your most important items should be placed at the top left-hand side of each page – and the least important at the bottom right.

We send our paper newsletter (folded legal size paper divided into 8 pages) to about 400 families every month. In addition, the articles (along with announcements of upcoming events and such), are published on an online blog. This blog is then linked to our church webpage and the blog-link is also offered on my personal Facebook page and the 40 or so other Facebook pages I’m a member of. In theory, we can reach about 2000 more readers… although not nearly that many will visit our blog and read the articles.