E-mail Newsletters vs. Bulletins

November 28, 2005 by

Tony Morgan of Granger Community Church has some insights about using e-mail newsletters vs. weekly bulletins and even ponders the potential death of church bulletins.

I don’t think we’ll see church bulletins go away any time soon, though they could lose their position as the primary delivery vehicle for church announcements. E-mail newsletters have great potential for getting the word out, and Tony shares some stats about their e-mail newsletter that are better than the norm.

Granger also sends out a single newsletter to the entire church, as opposed to a different e-mail for every ministry in the church. It’s a good way to cut down on clutter, ensure the e-mails are read, and reduce the chances of being considered spam.

It’s timely food for thought considering our poll a few weeks back about how often churches send e-mail updates.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

13 Responses to “E-mail Newsletters vs. Bulletins”

  • rob
    November 28, 2005

    One problem I see with not using print is it doesn’t help the visitor. We’re visiting other churches right now and I feel it’s a waste of paper and expectation when I get a bulletin that tells me nothing about the service or the church itself. The other thing is email is for the members of the church community, not those outside looking to come in. So a good combo could be used for the community members and something good and print-worthy for visitors.

  • kevin
    November 28, 2005

    And that’s why I think church bulletins aren’t going anywhere. When you go to a play, you get a program. Same thing with church. Maybe it won’t be chockful of announcements anymore, but you still need to tell people what’s happening in the service and who the church is and give people something to immerse themselves in–just in case the sermon gets boring. ;-)

  • Brandon Meek
    November 28, 2005

    We are actually right in the middle of this debate now. Not so much the bulletin, but we are looking to replace our monthly newsletter with an enewsletter.
    The biggest challenge I see is in keeping email addresses up to date. Before when we have sent lists out, we get tons of undeliverables – that stinks. However, if we could do it as an RSS feed and let people subscribe – maybe that would remedy it some.
    Our demo is a very wide age range. Most of the old folks and the visitors would be left out if we did away with the bulletin. Receiving email newsletters, although pretty mainstream, still isn’t as mainstream as being able to read something in your hand.

  • glenn
    November 28, 2005

    I think that using e-mail newsletters WITH bulletins would be a great idea.
    Currently, our church hands out bulletins to everyone at the door, scrolls announcements on our projection screen before the morning worship service, and verbally highlights the most prominent announcements from the pulpit at some point during the service. However, even with all of that being done there are still many times when our people just don’t get the message! (Imagine that!)
    I think throwing in one more method of communication would be great for our ministry. Does anybody know where I could find some kind of template or program that would help us put together a good e-newsletter template?

  • Dan
    November 29, 2005

    I created and edit a weekly e-mail newsletter that goes out to about 150 addresses. It goes out to members and others who have given us their e-mail address. It also goes to some in our wider church family like missionaries, former members and supporters who live in other parts of the country. It took a long time for it to catch on, but now I think it’s beginning to be seen as the primary way to get information out to the church. The content includes a calendar, call for helps list, church news, a Scripture verse of the week, and links to articles that do one of three things — share the Gospel, help Christians in their walk, equip them to have a greater impact on their world.
    The bulletin is seen as primarily for newcomers, as an introduction to the church.
    We also have a monthly newsletter that is mailed to members only. It contains messages from the pastors and mostly inside-church info.
    In this next year, I plan on coordinating the design and content of these instruments to go along with a redesign of our website.

  • Mike
    November 29, 2005

    Before we get all ga-ga over new forms of communications (because they really do have a great potential to cut down on work time and cost–while giving “free” stuff like color and picture and content space) that we make sure that we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
    Remember, for the most point, our “product” is a message. So we should be maximizing exposure for the most important messages and minimizing the lesser messages to reduce noise. Getting everything in an enewsletter amounts to getting a lot of noise. Will anyone really read it through? Will it be clear what is a priority?
    How about saying “no!” to more info on Sunday mornings (whether in bulletin, slides and verbals) so what is said is heard clearer. And then putting all the other stuff (much of it important but administrative: “the event is…”, “the meeting is…”, blah, blah, blah) to an enewsletter.
    Finally, I would be careful about incrementalism here. People get very caught up in the medium. How you migrate info to what medium is critical and who gets to say what, where is critical. You have to drive that by the values of the church and therefore everyone needs to understand what those are and how they drive this kind of strategic communication.

  • Mike
    November 29, 2005

    Oh, I forgot to mention as well that it may not be the best use of time to have a subscription list that you have to manage. Emails can be pretty fluid and so many mass subscription mail outs can be seen as spam and blocked.
    Instead you can post the newsletter as a PDF link from your web site. Or have your people self manage their subscription via a mail or listserve. That way the responsibility is on them to manage their subscription. If you post it via your church’s web site then a simple announcement from the bulletin or upfront lets everyone know that a new issue is ready for them.

  • kevin
    November 29, 2005

    And as with everything, you need to consider what makes sense for your church. For some churches it would be a waste of time.
    And any church sending out e-mails needs to be wary of looking like spam–we covered this a while back in Are Unsolicited Church E-mails Considered Spam?

  • Brandon Meek
    November 29, 2005

    I despise our bulletin – really I do. It is overflowing with information, most of which is irrelevant except for small segments of the audience and to top it off, is usually poorly written.
    I’m in the process of trying to reduce our bulletin to a double sided card with a perf’d tearoff at the bottom. I believe that we can get something full color both sides and outsource the whole silly thing (except for design) each week and do it for the same as our current expense.
    My greatest fear of the email newsletter/bulletin whatever is, it would get abused by the church. For example, I can see the pastor wanting to send out an email everytime he thinks of something to share with everyone. Thats cool if its a once a week thing, but if I were the one receiving multiple messages a week announcing Mother’s day Out has an activity planned, those messages would start landing in the same inbox that messages with Fwd: in the subject line do.

    • Dixie
      January 20, 2011

      You sound like a very angry young man. I have been creating bulletins/newsletters for my church for many years. You just can not please everyone.

  • Mike
    November 30, 2005

    About your Senior Pastor comment. I don’t know your Sr. Pastor whether he does like to communicate that much. But consider it your chance to “disciple” him. Just like you would any other ministry leader. Let him know that if he does send emails too much he will be training the congregation not to read them because they’ll realize after getting too much trivial information that it’s just “pastor spam.” Try to train him (obviously very shrewdly!!) about good email communciation: content and frequency!

  • Brandon Meek
    November 30, 2005

    I was speaking a little more in general terms because I’m pretty sure I could help keep it under control. I just think it could become a crutch for promotion, which is basically what I feel like monthly newsletters and the majority of a bulletin are. If we did proper promotion at the department level, I think a lot of that stuff could be cut back.

  • mikey
    December 17, 2005

    I agree that email newsletters are the way of the future. Our church just offers folks the option of opting out of the print newsletter, and it’s saved our church a bunch of money. We’re not there yet as a replacement for the bulletin announcements. That doesn’t seem to be apples to apples.
    I wrote an article about this subject in my Improving Your Church Website series: Using Email Newsletters. I even include a sample of our church’s email newsletter, with a bunch of ideas/directions…

Leave a Reply