The 3 Email Newsletters No Church Site Should Be Without

I say the more the merrier if you can support plenty of non-overlapping email newsletters or listservs on your church site, but, please, make sure you offer the holy trinity of email lists:

  1. News and updates – Monthly reminders of the most important upcoming events at your church. You might go as frequently as weekly if your research supports it. More importantly, this is your distribution channel for emergency announcements and last minute schedule changes for major events. Don’t spam all your other lists when a crisis comes up–get the word out that this particular list serves as the official source from your parish.
  2. Prayer requests and intentions – Moderated messages on behalf of those who have asked others to pray for them or particular situations. The publishing frequency should be as-needed since many requests will be time sensitive ( e.g., sudden, life-saving surgery).
  3. Volunteer opportunities – Monthly reminders of upcoming volunteer opportunities at your church and in your local community. You might even include donation requests here.

With your lists in place, you’ll want to offer several avenues for visitors to sign up. First of all, dedicate a page on your site to all of the subscriptions you offer. Someone who is interested in one list might want to find out about the others you offer. Next, incorporate subscriptions into your church registration process so potential subscribers can sign up at the same time they are joining your parish. Lastly, cross reference your subscription page as related content. When you publish your volunteer openings online, include a link to the email registration page. On your sacraments page where you mention anointing of the sick, you have an appropriate segue for those interested in praying for others in times of need.

Why have separate lists instead of just one? You’re dealing with different audiences in many cases. Sure, some parishioners will sign up for everything you offer. But others–many who might not even attend your church-could be more selective. For example, local community members might be interested in hearing about local volunteer openings even if they aren’t members of your church. Some good-natured souls are moved to pray for others, but might not care so much about upcoming events. Most people are growing increasingly protective of their email so give them focused content to choose from.

Offer these options so you can cultivate your community in both times of need and opportunity. What types of email lists are working best for your church?

This post was submitted to Daily Blog Tips Blog Project: Three.


23 thoughts on “The 3 Email Newsletters No Church Site Should Be Without

  1. Our synagogue does this to great effect.

    The first is an announcement-only style for official business.

    The volunteer opportunity list is actually part of a moderated list that has become its own community. That list gets a much wider readership – not just the membership.

    I doubt it would have grown as much if it were tied to the other lists.

    At one point, a few years ago, this more widely distributed list was split, allowing the discussion to have its own space, separate from announcements. (I guess that’d be 3a and 3b.)

  2. Carolyn/Juggling Frogs — Thanks for sharing your wonderful example. You certainly know you have a successful list when it can branch off into its own community. Volunteerism is definitely an area where one can attract participation beyond one’s home base.

  3. I like your holy trinity. Maybe we should parse ours out too. Right now we smash it all together in one very tightly controlled weekly email, and that seems to work well for us. Then we have a few separate email groups (as opposed to newsletters) for various special interest groups, like our “Green Team.” We’re a pretty chatty congregation, I guess.

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