The Ultimate Guide to Church Newsletters: Best Practices and Examples
Whether you’re looking to start a newsletter at your church or simply revamp your existing one, it can be tricky to know where to get started. In this article, we’re presenting an ultimate guild to help you create newsletters that your church members look forward to seeing in their inboxes.
Whether you’re looking to start a newsletter at your church or simply revamp your existing one, it can be tricky to know where to get started.
What does a church letter need to include? And what do you want it to include?
When should you send it? Who should you send it to?
In this article, we’ve got answers to those questions and more. We’re presenting this ultimate guide to make your life easier. After all, don’t you want to spend less time thinking about your newsletter and more time spreading the gospel?
We’ll help you create great newsletters that your church members will look forward to seeing in their inboxes.
Why Your Church Needs a Newsletter?
You might be wondering…why is sending a church newsletter worth my time and effort? There are a few reasons why sending a newsletter is the right way to go:
1. Build a sense of community.
Staying in touch with your congregants means they’re encouraged to stay in touch with the church and the church leaders.
2. Keep your congregants apprised of your activities.
On a basic level, a church newsletter is a way to share information about what you’re doing, upcoming events, and any changes or important notices about your weekly service. Most churches usually include an itinerary for the upcoming weekly service.
3. Reassure congregants who tithe.
This isn’t something you come out and say in your newsletter; rather, by staying in touch, you’re reminding congregants that their support is vital to the wellbeing of the church and its activities.
4. Encourage immediate action.
Sure, you might ask for volunteers in-person at church, but you’re more likely to get a response if you also include a call like that in your email newsletter, with an easy-to-click link and clear instructions.
5. Use analytics to see what works.
Sending emails gives you the unique opportunity to see how your audience responds to what through opens and clicks. Do they respond better to different subject lines? Or do they like to read more about one topic than another? Analytics can help in other areas too.
6. People prefer newsletter updates!
In a study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group, 90% of respondents preferred to receive updates via newsletter versus social media.
Sending newsletters is an important and easy way to keep connected and share the news. Read on to learn the basics of how to write your own church newsletters.
Typical Structure of a Church Newsletter
In the end, it’s entirely up to you what your church newsletter includes. You’ll find a rhythm that works for your church and your congregation. However, most church newsletters contain the following similar elements:
Note from the pastor. A greeting, a word of wisdom, a quick update—something personal!
Calendar of upcoming events. Highlight any changes or itineraries for upcoming weekly services here. You can even mention the theme of each service.
Call to volunteer or donate. Here you can include any information about your volunteering needs. This is also a great place to include a link to your online donation form.
Congregation news. Ask your congregants to share the news with you to include in the newsletter. This is a great place to announce marriages, births, and other big, exciting life events to make your congregants feel more connected with each other.
Scripture. Include some scripture or other suggested reading.
A few good, interesting photographs. With all of your announcements, be sure to include some good photographs for visual appeal.
Pro tip: Just like with a nonprofit, it’s important to establish a recognizable brand for your church. Your brand is not only things like the colors you use in your logo and on your website, but also things like your attitude and the energy of your church. Are you more serious? More laid back? More approachable? Whatever the case may be, be sure to keep your branding consistent throughout the content you choose to include in your newsletter.
As long as you include some of these elements in your newsletter, you’ll be generating the kind of content your congregants will come to expect.
Who Writes the Church Newsletter?
Once you figure out what you’d like to include in your newsletters, you need to establish who will do the actual work of writing the newsletter.
This of course depends on your church management structure, how many staff members you have, and the overall share of responsibilities. You don’t want any one person saddled with too much work!
When it comes to your church newsletter, it’s best to delegate the work in the way that works best for all. Consider breaking up the tasks as follows:
Logistics. Someone should be in charge of scheduling when the newsletters go out and handling the system for distribution. Common email management services for church newsletters include Constant Contact, Mailchimp, and WordFly. Usually, it’s best if you leave the logistics up to your church administrators.
Writing articles. This should fall to multiple people, but the bulk of the content should be provided by the church staff and leadership. Your pastor can also occasionally provide content.
Scripture. As mentioned above, you can include a scripture or suggested reading in your newsletter. This should come from your pastor.
News. Most of the news you include about church members will be written by your staff or leadership—but sometimes you can even ask church members to write their own news! This helps your congregants feel more connected with each other.
Of course, your content will vary based on the type of newsletter you send out.
5 Types of Church Newsletters
When you start putting together your calendar for sending out newsletters, you’ll want to be aware of what kinds of church newsletters are out there—and what your congregants might expect to see in their inboxes.
1. Weekly, monthly, or quarterly church newsletters.
These are your regular newsletters. The frequency depends on how quickly you can get new content. Ask yourself these questions to determine what interval makes sense for you:
How large is your congregation? Is there a lot of church member news to share?
Do you have new members regularly joining who need to be brought up-to-speed on your activities?
Would you like to include an itinerary for your weekly services?
Depending on your responses, you might find that sending a weekly/monthly newsletter is the best choice for you.
Quarterly newsletters tend to be longer. They’re sometimes not as effective as touchpoints because they’re less frequent (and require more of a commitment in reading time from your audience!).
2. Fundraising newsletters.
These newsletters are sent when your church has a specific campaign they’re hoping to fundraise for. Things like new equipment for an initiative, funds to update your building, or a new missionary fund.
Typically, you want to send your fundraising-heavy newsletters separately from your usual newsletters to highlight your request for contributions.
3. Announcement of special events newsletters.
When you have a special event coming up, be sure to send out a specific newsletter to get your church members interested. Send these newsletters at least a month in advance to build momentum.
Pro tip: Start with a dedicated newsletter for your upcoming special event. It should talk about every single detail – the reason behind hosting it, who should attend, if there are entry fees, the time, date, and programs. Thereafter, until the event date has arrived, keep adding a section in your weekly newsletter about the reminder for the event.
4. Staff updates newsletters.
If any changes happen with your staffing or church leadership, it’s a good idea to send out a newsletter announcing those changes and any transition plans. This helps your church members feel connected to the ongoing functioning of the church, and they’ll appreciate being kept in the loop. It’s also a chance to thank any staff members who might be moving on for their service.
5. Holiday newsletters.
Of course, you want to wish your church members happy holidays! But if your church has special services for holidays, you also want to send a separate email with any information they need. This is also an opportunity to share scripture related to the holiday, invite congregants to bring their friends and family, and ask for end-of-the-year contributions.
No matter what kind of newsletter you intend on sending and when, we have outlined the 12 best practices for your church’s newsletter! Read on so you’ll know everything you need for your church newsletters to be successful.
Tips & Best Practices for Church Newsletters
If you’ve never sent a newsletter before, it can feel scary to decide the best way to tackle the project. You might be asking yourself: where do I even begin?
No need to stress! With the right understanding, you can make the process of sending out church newsletters as simple as possible. Here are some practices to keep in mind as you build out your church’s newsletter calendar. Let’s dive in!
1. Choose optimal send times
It can be tricky to decide what time to send your newsletter. You want to send it at the best time possible so the majority of your email list gets a chance to review it, right?
Studies have found that the best days to send newsletters are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the day. When you think about it, this kind of makes sense. Mondays are a drag, Fridays and the weekends are reserved for relaxing and running errands. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday hit right at the times when people are settled into their week and maybe more willing to open an extra email.
Pro tip: Of course, one unique consideration for churches is the timing of weekly services. If, for example, your church has weekly services on Sundays and your newsletter includes important information about that week’s service, you’ll likely want to shoot for early Tuesday so your church members have plenty of time to review that information.
2. Consider sending frequency
The frequency with which you send your newsletter will depend on a few things:
Content. Are you including long, researched articles? Or quick, to-the-point news bulletins? Along with length, you need to consider the amount of work your content takes. If you’re including in-depth material that takes a while to generate, sending a monthly newsletter might make more sense.
Audience size. Do you have a huge email list? With a larger congregation, you might find that you have more to report on. It might make sense to send out two smaller newsletters rather than one large one.
Medium for sharing. Will your newsletter be solely digital? Or will you print physical copies to pass out at service? Or both? Whatever you choose, consider the resources required for both (an email manager, paper for physical copies, etc.) and decide what frequency is most reasonable for each medium.
Once you establish these elements, decide on a frequency that makes sense for your church.
3. Segment your email list
Segmentation refers to breaking your total email list down into specific segments based on things like location, demographics, interests, and more.
For churches, segmentation isn’t always as important as it is for, say, a for-profit business. That being said, segmentation can still be a great boon to your newsletter process!
If you ever intend on sending a specific kind of newsletter focused on a specific subject, you can always ask your congregants to sign up for that specific newsletter if it matches their interests. Then you would have a segment of your email list receiving both your standard newsletter and your new, specialized newsletter.
You might also use segmentation for things like volunteer calls if you have a group of specially dedicated volunteers that you want to target, or even for contribution requests if you know you have a group of strong donors who are likely to give again.
Pro tip: Segmenting also means that you don’t overwhelm everyone with multiple emails. Since 69% of email users unsubscribe when they receive too many emails from one business or nonprofit, it’s important to use segmentation with additional emails to avoid exhausting your overall email list.
4. Craft (and test) engaging subject lines
People are bombarded with emails. On average, active email users receive around 121 emails a day.
Your subject line is a chance to snag your recipient’s attention, so you want to craft one that will stand out.
How do you find out what kind of subject line works best for your audience? You test them, of course!
Start by crafting two solid but different subject lines. Then split your email list into two different groups and send the same newsletter to each group with a slightly different subject line. Then, using your email management software, determine which email had a better open rate.
Once you know what kind of subject lines your audience gravitates towards, you can easily get ahead of the competing emails with an attention-grabbing subject.
5. Set a clear objective
Your objective can be to share a piece of news, cover a specific topic, educate about a relevant issue, or begin an important conversation. You might also think of objective here as a theme or idea you want to talk about.
Whatever it is, let your objective guide the content you choose to include in each newsletter.
6. Use formatting and visuals to draw attention
Getting your audience to open your newsletters is only half the battle. The other half? Creating a well-formatted newsletter that people want to read.
Here are some elements to consider adding to your newsletter:
Headings. When you have broad, clear headings, it’s easy for your readers to scan your newsletter to see what’s in store for them.
Subheadings. Similar to headings, including subheadings helps your readers move through your newsletter easier. They also draw attention to the important information and help you organize your copy.
Short paragraphs. When someone is reading an email—especially if they’re on their phone—they want the reading experience to be easy. Short paragraphs make for easier reading than long ones.
Bold important text. This guides your reader to the most important text.
Interesting visuals. Do you have a graphic to show how new attendance has spiked lately? A series of photos from your last big event? Breaking up the text with visuals helps keep your reader focused (and not overwhelmed by a wall of words!).
Creating visual interest in your newsletter means your church members are more likely to read it, thus more likely to get the info you’re hoping to get across.
7. Use a conversational tone
One thing your audience really doesn’t want to read? A very serious, straightforward newsletter.
Of course, you’ll need to change your tone depending on the content of your newsletter. Sometimes you do need to be serious! But most of the time, a conversational tone is more fun to read and more welcoming.
8. Feature volunteers
Your volunteers do a lot for you—remember to give them a shout-out in your newsletter! This not only rewards current volunteers for their hard work but reminds those who haven’t volunteered yet that you’re always looking for some volunteer help.
Pro tip: Consider including volunteer profiles highlighting an individual volunteer’s service, interests, background, and more. This helps build a sense of community within your congregation.
9. Use multiple distribution channels
We briefly mentioned distributing your newsletter via your email management system and handing out physical copies in person, but keep in mind there are other distribution channels you can take advantage of. Things like:
Hosting the PDF of your newsletter on your website
Mailing your newsletter (note: this can get costly!)
Texting the link to your newsletter to your recipients
Depending on your needs, you might choose two or more distribution methods to make sure your audience gets your newsletter.
10. Let community members contribute
One way to make sure your community members want to read your newsletter? Let them contribute content!
Asking for stories, updates, announcements, anecdotes, and more from your congregants both promote that all-important sense of community and take some of the content-generation pressure off of you.
Plus, it’s fun for those who read your newsletter and for the person who gets to contribute.
11. Include volunteering and donation links
Part of your goal for sending your newsletter is to keep your congregation feeling connected and up-to-date about the goings-on in the church. But sometimes you have another goal in mind.
Whether you need to collect contributions to fund new hymn books or you’re looking for volunteers to help organize your church records, you’ll want to include clear and easy-to-find links to recruit volunteers and collect donations.
Your volunteer sign-up sheet can be a Google Sheets spreadsheet where people can fill out information like their name, availability, and volunteer preference.
With Donorbox, you can easily link to your online donation form through your newsletter email. Once you customize your form with your campaign details, you can host it on Donorbox’s website or even easily embed it into your own website.
The Faith Miracle Church‘s donation form is an excellent example of a simple and recurring way to collect online donations.
Whichever way you choose to go with your donation form, including a clear, easy-to-find link in your newsletter means your congregants will be able to give quickly and easily.
A link to your website with some easy copy-and-paste text
Your congregants want to share more about your activities, so use your newsletter as a space where you can give them a head start.
5 Great Church Newsletter Examples (With Samples)
If you still need some inspiration, here are some real-world examples to get you going.
1. North Point Church Weekly Newsletter.
North Point Church is based in Plainwell, Michigan and its aim is to support the community through the ups and downs in life. We loved their candid approach toward their supporters, which made the newsletter look fun, at the same time, very informative with financial information.
This newsletter has it all: a thought-provoking note from the pastor, important info about youth group programming, and information about their current fundraising campaign. Check the full newsletter here.
2. Perimeter Church Weekly Digital Bulletin.
The Perimeter Church is located in Johns Creek with a large facility of its own, which provides training, learnings, worship services, and much more to the community. Their newsletter is rather formal in appearance and tone with multiple tabs and headings to convey the message directly.
Perimeter chooses to include sermon notes, important announcements, and a call to donate right on their website. If you’re looking for a neat design for your newsletter, this could be the one!
The Unity of Boulder Church is based in Northern Colorado and its aim is to spread spiritual awakening through unity. Their newsletter is a thorough 4-page pdf with details such as Sunday services, upcoming events, a calendar schedule for the entire month, and scriptures from the church.
Although this is a slightly older newsletter, it’s still a great example of the options you have for content to include. This month’s newsletter included a section about natural healing, a note from the minister, a calendar of events for the entire month, and way more.
Note: Along with thousands of other churches, Unity of Boulder trusts Donorbox to manage their online donations!
Faithbridge Church, located in Spring, Texas, seeks to build an authentic community through convictions, persuasions, and opinions. They strive to be a bridge of faith to people every day.
We loved their modern take on a newsletter: an online bulletin chock full of interesting articles, information about upcoming events, and food for thought. Along with brief teachings from the Bible teacher, they also have a link to the PDF where the detailed answers to questions are given. Scrolling down, you can find links to their mobile app, online giving, events, and connect cards. This can be a perfect example of a new-age newsletter from a church.
Their newsletter, “News and Opportunities,” reflects these values by offering in-depth information about upcoming services and programming. There’s also a whole section devoted to highlighting upcoming congregant birthdays.
It’s a thorough newsletter with almost no detail missed. If people are signing up for your church newsletter, they’d probably expect something like this. Not just details of events but also important links such as their Youtube page, forms to fill, and a phone number for call-in worship, etc. are provided.
Donorbox has helped thousands of churches around the globe with effective features like customizable forms, text-to-give, and more. It also integrates seamlessly with communication tools such as Mailchimp to make your email campaigns easier. Check out this short 1-minute video to learn more –
There are many different ways to approach creating a newsletter for your church.
Remember to keep your brand in mind when you get started. You’ll also need to be realistic about what kind of content you and your team can produce regularly.
And lastly, the most important part: remember to make a newsletter that your congregants want to read.
With the right practices in mind and a good toolbox under your belt, you’ll get your newsletter programming up and running in no time.
For more church management tips, check out the rest of our nonprofit blog.
Lindsey Baker Bower is a writer, educator, and nonprofit professional. She has years of experience helping arts nonprofits with their fundraising messaging and strategy. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.