Great Alternatives to Church Newsletters to Boost Engagement

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership, Web Leave a Comment

In your ongoing quest to engage and inform members of your church, you know the importance of constant communication. And we’ve shared some of the latest trends keeping church leaders in touch with their communities.

But what about the church newsletter? Is it obsolete, or do churches still need to print these informational handouts? Are there church newsletter alternatives you should be using?

Boosting church member engagement means tapping into all of the available resources to inspire, educate, entertain, and enlighten your intended audience. In today’s virtual landscape where everyone browses online, there is no shortage of newsletter alternatives out there. If you’re considering a communication strategy change, these are the ideas you’ll want to review first.

There Are Still Benefits of the Old-Fashioned Church Newsletter

You might be diligent about leveraging all the digital forms of communication with your church community already. For example, you might send out activity calendars by email and create videos for promoting events. And those channels are all necessary in today’s fast-paced, content consumption world. But there is still a place for the good, old-fashioned church bulletin. They’re great church newsletter alternatives.

Consider this.

When you attend a game, a show, or a concert, it’s not uncommon to receive a handout with an outline of what you can expect as a spectator. Similarly, couples in love take painstaking steps to create wedding day programs to commemorate their big day. Typically, when you receive one of these pamphlets, depending on the nature of the event, you can even feel compelled to keep it as a souvenir. And there’s just something more valuable about a tangible handout that feels like it’s just for you or has important information you care about within its contents.

Church newsletters, much like these other printed handouts, can still serve a purpose for your congregation members. Of course, they may be more reimagined now for better engagement. But they’re certainly not obsolete. So before eliminating your church newsletter altogether, consider whether or not these improvements might be better ways of reimagining yours.

Reduction in Size

Bigger isn’t always better, especially with church bulletins and physical newsletters. Give up the expense of printing giant foldables for smaller versions. You’ll find no one really needed giant newsletters in the first place. Oversized won’t translate to over-important. Convenience and ease are the order of the day.

Forgo the Color Printing

Back when the church newsletter was the primary method of communicating with your church members, color printing mattered. It’s what made your message stand out and demonstrated a higher level of care taken to craft such colorful pamphlets. But now, with most community engagement being virtual, there really isn’t a need for the added expense to print in color. Save the money and opt for black and white printing instead.

Keep Only the Essentials

Because you now have online church calendars and digital resources available to your church family, you won’t need to include every nugget of information or event detail in your printed newsletter. Instead, be selective about what you incorporate into your printable and stick with the essential information only.

Revamp the Content Entirely

Get some outside opinions about the tone, style, and readability of your church newsletter. It might not be popular because the content needs a revamp. Breathe new life into your newsletter with stories or inspirational statements of faith. You can still “keep the essentials” and draft the content in a way that communicates personality, emotional connection, and ease of readability.

Going Monthly

Some churches still print weekly newsletters. If your church is one of them, consider cutting back to producing monthly bulletins instead. You can save money on printing costs. And your members will be more apt to hang onto the monthly church handout as opposed to getting burned out on the weekly edition.

Going Seasonal

Maybe it makes sense to abandon your weekly or monthly newsletter for now. But around the holidays or during the winter months, it could be an ideal time to bring back a printed newsletter to help promote and highlight special charitable works, volunteer opportunities, and seasonal community outreach plans. There are no hard-fast rules for a church bulletin timeline. If seasonal handouts work for your members, do it!

Create Digital Versions

Chances are, any information you plan to include in your church newsletter you will convey in one of your online channels, as well. Consider combining efforts by creating a digital version of your newsletter or vice versa in a printable version of your digital message. It will make your creation process more efficient and timelier in both respects. And there are a host of digital tools available to help even tech beginners build truly engaging digital newsletters and church bulletins.

If you’re of the mindset that a paper version of a newsletter just doesn’t make sense to continue with, there are plenty of other ways to boost engagement and share information with your church members.

Church Sponsored Texts Are Great Church Newsletter Alternatives

Believe it or not, text messaging is the single most effective form of communication, according to the latest studies. Texts alert the users immediately since most people constantly have and monitor the notifications on their mobile devices. Even an unnoticed text at first will be read eventually.

There are church-related text tools like Text In Church that are great for mass texting outreach strategies. And group text chats can be extremely useful for church committees and youth groups who communicate routinely.

Be mindful not to abuse text privileges since people can get annoyed with too many texts and some plans charge individuals with texting rates. However, smart use of mass texts can be just the engagement communication your church needs to replace the newsletter.

Make Newsletter Info Available on Your Church Website

Any news or announcement should always appear on your church website. You can create specific tabs to feature these informational messages and event calendars, and it’s imperative you not “bury” these news-related sections where they’re hard to find beyond a few clicks.

Promote these engagement resources with others during service and encourage online sharing of the links to these tabs. If an individual seeks out specific information, he or she will likely seek out your church website to find it.

More People Look for Their News on Social Media

When it comes to sharing church news or important dates, it’s always a best practice to include the information across your church’s various social media channels. When people actively seek out new details, key dates and times, or social event calendars, they look to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Make sure your ministry is “living digitally” by keeping up your posting efforts whenever something is worth sharing with your church community. These channels make it much easier to share with others, too, increasing the visibility of your church news to non-members in an inviting way.

Digital Newsletters via Email as a Church Newsletter Alternative

You can abandon your printed church newsletter altogether and upgrade to a digital version that’s easy to email to members’ inboxes. Create an announcement sharing how new and existing members can opt-in for these newsletter emails. You can then schedule weekly or monthly announcements to a captive audience.

Be sure to create well-designed emails and graphics to make those emails interesting to open. And be mindful of including the required opt-out or unsubscribe options for recipients who maybe change their minds about getting emails from you.

Also, be careful not to get aggressive with your email frequency or salesy with your subject lines. Otherwise, those church newsletters might end up in a spam folder.

Exploring Faith Topics with a Blog

Don’t ignore the power of a well-written and informative blog as a method for your church to boost engagement. Blogs can be the platforms with which to tell heartfelt member testimonies or life-changing stories with faith lessons. You can also use blogs to provide recommended resources for your church community and as a place for visitors to bookmark or reference often.

New church initiatives can also be explained in greater detail in a blog or digital news venue. Blogs can function much like your traditional printed newsletters, but as a worth church newsletter alternative, complete with paid sponsors, ministry events calendars, and reports. Consider using your blog to showcase and show appreciation for your church volunteers, too!

Podcasts Are the New Radio

It used to be that only the colossal church organizations would be able to leverage the power of radio with enough budget to have their own radio shows. Fast forward to today, and the podcast landscape has made it possible and affordable for everyone to have an audible voice and audience.

If you plan to give up your church newsletter, consider exploring your podcasting options. You can discuss faith topics in-depth, answer some of the church’s most frequently asked questions, and conduct fun and inspiring interviews. In addition, any of the news you used to print in a newsletter can be explored more prominently in conversation with a podcast audience who can listen anytime.

The Weekly Video Message as a Church Newsletter Alternative

Share the latest church news and inspiration in the form of a weekly video message to church members as a great church newsletter alternative. Promote the various ways existing members can watch the video and encourage sharing across social media. Keep it brief in length so it can be viewed conveniently anytime. And remind patrons during service about the latest release of your weekly videos. You can archive them to create a library of faith announcements on your website or YouTube channel.

Is Your Church Ready for an App?

App development may be the most logical next step for your church and a great alternative to the traditional newsletter. As an extension of your website and digital presence, your church app can be designed to send notifications of church news or announcements. Other features like QR codes or member dashboards for church-based group discussions can also be incredibly convenient for connecting your church community. We can help you explore your church app development options, too!

Smart Home Devices Offer Great Reminders

Imagine your church being able to leverage the power of Amazon’s Alexa to announce church reminders. You’re not dreaming – Amazon Alexa Flash Briefing is a real thing! Essentially, these announcements tie into the app capabilities and typically feature a brief audio clip announcement. They don’t last longer than two minutes in length, and they can come across as more of a “newsy” engagement strategy. But the messaging can be super-convenient for those who rely on their smart home devices for scheduling, reminders, and inspiration. And all you really have to do is record your message and upload it to the user-friendly website for it to then be delivered into the participating homes of your church community members.

Snail Mail Can Still Bridge the Gap As a Great Church Newsletter Alternative

As churches routinely look for better ways to engage members during the six-day gap between services, don’t feel obligated to give up on the snail mail. A well-placed postcard with an inspirational message and a calendar can easily find its way to the family refrigerator. Mailing small postcards can be relatively inexpensive, as well, and can be a great way to deliver your church message directly into the home. And let’s face it. People do still enjoy getting a little mail from time to time.

Give Your Church Community Options

Before eliminating any form of communication, ask your members what they think. Send out brief surveys asking them how they’d prefer to receive church news, for example. You might get feedback suggesting a traditional newsletter form for events calendars and a digital delivery of news and other faith messages.

Ultimately, your church community will tell you how they prefer to be engaged. And as you might guess, senior members will likely have suggestions the youth groups disagree with altogether. Your church might decide a hybrid model of communication is the best way to relay information effectively.

If you’re still on the fence about eliminating your church newsletter, consider these other options. And when you’re ready to explore some of the latest digital engagement strategies, let us help! From user-experience website designs to authentically engaging marketing campaigns online, we can help you boost your existing member engagement and attract new visitors immediately.

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