Published Jun 27, 2023
During my formative years, my church on the corner in Orange County produced and mailed out a weekly publication called “The Good News.” The Good News was a pastel-colored, legal-sized, tri-folded, printed newsletter. Church secretaries typed out the content from an old-school typewriter, and they strategically taped a few pieces of clip art into corners of white space before it ran through the copy machine, inevitably offsetting the final product. Any “hot-off-the-press” edition would fall woefully short of marketing pieces we may encounter here in 2023. And yet, we adored The Good News. In my family, we awaited its arrival every week, and it would be fairly common to hear any one of us yelling across the house shouting, “MMMMOMM! Where’s the Good News!?” or “Hey! Who spilled water on The Good News?” Reading through The Good News was a cherished weekly ritual that every reader in our home looked forward to.
For all the talk and pressure surrounding churches needing to embrace social media, it is remarkable how few churches capitalize on the one form of communication that far and away beats out all others: The good old-fashioned e-blast/newsletter.
The statistics proving the effectiveness of email over social are staggering, and I strongly encourage you to take the leap into producing your own regular newsletter. Here are a few significant reasons why:
Email wins across every measurable:
- The raw number of email users is 1.5x greater than that of social media users. According to Statista, 2.5 billion people access social media in any given month worldwide, whereas there are 3.7 billion email users globally. And 70 percent of consumers believe they need email for everyday life (including the 75% of teenagers who use email daily).
- There’s a general assumption that “the old people are on email” and “the young people are on social media,” but the truth is that the vast majority of every generation is using email regularly, which is not the case for social media:
- 74% of Baby Boomers think email is the most personal channel to receive communication, followed by
- 72% of Gen X,
- 64% of Millennials, and
- 60% of Gen Z… (And this number will only increase as they join the workforce).
- If you check your social media first thing in the morning, you are in the minority. Seventy-one percent of people claim that email is their first online check of the day.  That means 7 out of 10 people wake up, check their email first, and then hit their preferred social accounts. The statistics go on.
- Email is proven to have four times the effectiveness of reaching your audience over Facebook. So if a social post gets 25 people talking about your program, the email blast will net you 100 people’s notice. And those statistics are not going to get better for your church’s Facebook account. It’s going to get worse. Around 2021 the reach of an organic post on Facebook had already crashed by nearly 50%, with estimation that reach will worsen save for those willing to pay money to ensure post visibility.
Newsletters have more influence than nearly all other forms of communication.
- Your email blast is not fighting the battle for visibility like your social media post. With the number of social platforms growing steadily, Facebook continues to hold the lead as the largest of them all, but did you know:
- There are six new Facebook profiles created every second!
- Every minute there are 510,000 comments posted and 293,000 statuses updated.
- More than 350 million photos get uploaded per day – This means the post you published on Facebook today went up against hundreds of millions of other photos. If you only post once a week, your best post was shared alongside 2.45 BILLION other posts.
- In a newsletter setting, your messaging will not get lost among the deafening cyber noise. Instead, it lands sweetly into your member’s inbox, increasing the likelihood that it will be seen. Not only that but it will be handled. Even if your email just gets deleted, that glance of your email is netting more than the post that was never seen at all.
- Your email blast will accomplish in one bundle what would take scores of social media posts. By taking the time to design a workable template, your newsletter can easily communicate a plethora of vital information from your church that can cut across several cross sections of your congregation. Examples of items to include:
- An opening word of encouragement from your pastor – In fact, rotate through your staff so your audience can hear from the full breadth of your leadership.
- A monthly calendar is an easy way to keep those all-important dates in front of your people.
- Drop in the link for that special offering, children’s camp donation fund, or Tsunami relief campaign. Good intentions to donate on Sunday might bear fruit midweek.
- A devotional challenge from women/for women. If you want your church families to come out to the big city clean-up event, give her a reason to read through your email… where that calendar of events just keeps popping up!
- An activity for the kids. A word search from last week’s sermon might spark some mid-week family conversations about guarding our hearts.
- A volunteer highlight. This is a fantastic way to elevate and celebrate those faithful volunteers. They don’t get paid, but 15 minutes of fame is a minuscule way to honor those who have given decades of reliable service. And people will tune in regularly to see who is being featured, in case it is their good friend, family member, or even them!
- With immediacy and certainty, you can know how effectively your emails reach your congregation. Every mass email platform comes with easy-to-navigate, real-time analytics baked in. Your first few newsletters will be challenging. As your emails develop and as you grow to understand what your congregation is looking for and valuing, so will your open rates and click rates. Regardless, after one email, your lowest open rate will likely beat out your most liked post on social media….in fact, I can almost guarantee it.
If the notion of a regular publication feels daunting, start small. Weekly is still the magic number for frequency, but you can start monthly or even quarterly. There may be one or two people in your congregation who would be fantastic at producing a fun and informative family newsletter regularly.
The word “newsletter” has fallen out of vogue. It sounds like “just another thing,” yet every successful business continues to utilize it because the returns are undeniable. A newsletter can be an invaluable community builder, resource sharer, and training tool that can evolve into a rallying point for your church family.
And that’s The Good News of Newsletters.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, … speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Excerpts from Ephesians 4).
Bonus Material: How to Use Your Church Data for Micro Targeting