When I said we’re trying to have only one item mentioned at the front each week, the first obvious question is, where do you tell people about the rest of the stuff?
Fifteen years ago the answer would have been in the weekly church news sheet. Every church had one, and producing it was a big part of the church secretary’s week. Almost anything could go in (although with a keen editorial eye), and it kept the church photocopier busy most of Thursday.
And of course churches that produce weekly orders of service still do that.
But many churches have switched to more digital format for Sunday services, on screens rather than in books or on paper, and so they have also switched to a weekly email. It’s just as easy to put together, a good free service like MailChimp means that even churches with little cash can get their news out properly, and of course it saves on the printing costs. We still run off a dozen for those who would prefer the paper copy.
There are huge advantages: we can limit the amount of information in the email itself, making it easy to read – if people want to know more, they can click on a link to a fuller webpage. We can link to mission partners pages, pictures, and include videos. I write this at a point when the team knows we need to change what we’re doing again, because it all looks flat and same-y each week; but the point is that we can and will do it, because it is so easy.
So what are the downsides?
Principally, getting through the email noise. Let’s be honest, for every person who practices ‘inbox zero’, there are twenty who preach it but don’t practice it. And behind them are the unnumbered hordes of the rest of humankind, overwhelmed by the number of their unread emails, and who simply browse and pick through the top fifty in their inbox.
Once again, the key has to be honest helpfulness. The email won’t take forever to read; it’s scannable (we have a 50 word rule for news items, before there as to be a link for more info). It will be relevant, and not just bloat.
In other words, it is worth opening.
I get to encourage, mid-week, every week
But there is one plus that I love. I get to write a short piece each week, to every member we email. I get to write something biblical, of relevance on a Wednesday, which will be read on a Wednesday. I get to encourage (and that is the only aim, to encourage) mid-week, every week. My piece goes at the top, and is meant to lead the way.
That is a benefit the paper church newsletter could never deliver.
So, how are you going to encourage your members this Wednesday?