I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the purpose of the print newsletter for most congregations. It seems that at some point it was decided that someone should expand the list of announcements of all the programming that the church was offering, throw in some financial data, birthdays and a hastily written column from the pastor and call it a newsletter. Church members began to rely on it to know what was happening and, even more so, ministers relied on it to expect people to show up at events.
It’s possible that I’m too critical of the poor old Announcer, or whatever it is called at your church. Regardless of whether yours is successful or not, I think there is a missed opportunity to tell our stories in a creative, attractive way using our print newsletter. We may spend a lot of print space, for example, asking people to donate for an upcoming mission trip, but then we don’t share pictures and personal antidotes about how lives were changed after they came home. Imagine a high-quality color print newsletter that was 6-8 pages long, printed every other month and instead of a list of event announcements, you used most of the space for photos, captions, short updates about ministries, testimonies, personal reflections about the church, favorite quotes, links to resources for spiritual growth, dreams, visions, conversation, and well, the life that is happening with your community.
Once you have invested all this time in these stories, determine where else you can share them. Of course you’ll put them up on your website (and not in a pdf format, but as individual entries that can be shared digitally), but you’ll also share them on your favorite social networking sites. Maybe you’ll dream of a creative way to use Pinterest or Instagram with those photos you shared and even upload the extras to your Flickr gallery or enlarge the best ones and hang them in your hallways. Perhaps you’ll have short videos of the personal testimonies to load on YouTube. You might even get the inspiration to expand a personal reflection into a half-sheet insert for your Sunday bulletin and share as a Facebook cover photo or add as a blog post.
There is no limit to your creativity once you start to meditate on the stories you have to share. Look around you, see what inspires you, who gives you hope, how you feel challenged by the church and then talk about it everywhere you can. People will listen, and they’ll return for more.
(a follow up to our recent post, Church Marketing or Sharing Stories?)
Natalie Aho has spent over ten years as a professional in communications and another four years as an educator. She is employed as a communications specialist for the Associated Baptist Press, Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Center for Healthy Churches. She is also endorsed as a coach for SocialPhonics and provides consulting services to individuals, organizations and congregations through her website www.digitalclergy.com.