From MACUCC Wiki
The newsletter is a mainstay of communication in almost every congregation. Chances are your church has published a weekly or monthly newsletter for most of its history. It can be an affordable and reliable method of keeping members informed of upcoming events and important news, and using desktop publishing software can simplify creating and updating a professional quality newsletter.
At its most basic, a newsletter can be as simple as an 8 x 11 page printed on one or both sides, often folded in half or thirds, stamped, labeled and mailed. For a congregation of under one hundred members, a monthly (or even weekly) newsletter of this type could easily be printed on a standard home printer at a negligible cost for the paper and ink, plus the cost of postage which, obviously, would vary with the number and frequency of newsletters sent. In terms of content, a rudimentary newsletter should contain at least a calendar of church events and your churchs complete contact information (address, phone number, URL, etc.). One person could compile, print, fold and mail this in very little time.
On the other end of the spectrum, a newsletter could also be a multi-page full-color document printed, bound and distributed by an offset printer at great expense. A more comprehensive newsletter might contain news and updates of church groups, activities and events, articles, photographs, and even classified advertisements, and could involve submissions from several people and committees and require hours of work from a dedicated staff, possibly even including professional writers, layout artists and graphic designers.
Benefits - Why Bother
Even in its simplest form, a newsletter is an indispensable tool for letting a congregation know what is happening and when. However, with a bit of extra effort it can also be used as a means of creating a stronger sense of community and identity among congregants, and can even serve as a way of attracting new members.
Step By Step Checklist
Its very likely that your church already has a newsletter, but for the sake of this guide we will assume you are starting from scratch. Even if you are attempting to revise your existing newsletter it may still be helpful to use the same steps.
- The first thing to consider is whom you are trying to reach with your newsletter and what you would like to tell them. This will determine what content needs to be included, who will need to be involved in providing that content, how large the newsletter will be, how much work will need to be done to assemble the newsletter, and how many will need to be sent. The checklist in (Section 4) below offers several ideas of items you may wish to consider including, as well as a list of things that absolutely should be included.
- After determining what needs to go into the newsletter, its time to begin assembling the pieces. If content is being provided by other people, it is important to establish a schedule letting everyone know their deadlines for providing you with that content early enough to allow you to get the newsletter out in a timely fashion. Once you have all the content in hand you may begin the layout. The amount of content you have will determine what size your newsletter needs to be. For ease of readability dont try squeezing too much information into too little space. A good, clean layout will contain a moderate amount of open space and flow logically from one item to another. If you are doing this on a computer there are many affordable applications that can simplify this process. Programs like Microsoft Word even have pre-made templates that can guide you through creating an attractive newsletter very quickly.
Whatever form your layout takes, however, there are certain things that should always be present on any good newsletter. The name (or, preferably, logo) of your church, address, phone number and url should be prominently displayed, as well as the date/edition of each issue. If your newsletter is more than a few pages, including a table of contents may be a good idea. It is also important to give proper credit to all contributors and to obey all copyright laws when reprinting any photographs or text. If your newsletter is a self-mailer (mailed alone without an envelope) be sure to observe postal regulations to ensure that it will reach its recipients. The US Post Office offers guidelines on their web site, http://www.usps.com/businessmail101.
(a computer designed newsletter means easy port to PDF)
PDF Creator printer driver for Windows
4 (Considerations/Ideas for Growth)
Minimum content that should ALWAYS be included in any newsletter:
Church Calendar INCLUDING time of weekly worship services
Additional content to consider
List of church staff and clergy
Letter from the minister
News/Updates on church events and activities
Birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Scripture for the week/month
Calendar of events outside the church
Map/directions to the church
Informational or inspirational articles
Any and all copyright information for material taken from outside sources
Photographs from church events
Since a newsletter has a very short shelf life and will be replaced constantly, it is ideally suited for adaptation and adjustment. So, if the availability of content changes, don't panic! As long as you have included the minimum information necessary anything else can be added or removed from edition to edition. It is far more important that the newsletter reach people in time for them to be able to use the information it contains.