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Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!  We’re talking e-newsletters!

By Tracy Wood

SUMMARY: The terms “e-newsletter,” “e-card” and “e-mail” are thrown around all the time. What are their distinguishing characteristics, and what makes the e-newsletter the subject of this article?

According to PC Magazine, an e-card (electronic card) is a digital greeting card or postcard created on the Web and sent to someone via the Web. PC Magazine defines e-mail (electronic mail) as the transmission of text messages and optional file attachments over a network. Lastly, an e-newsletter (electronic newsletter – are you seeing a trend?) is an electronic report giving news or information of interest to a special group, as defined by

So, of these three electronic communication methods, why does the e-newsletter stand out as a clear-cut winner for your local church? It has all the necessary components your church can use – even if you don’t have a Web site!

I can be high tech without a Web site?
Whoa, Nellie – I didn’t say “high tech.” Yet, every church has the ability to send out an e-newsletter, even if they don’t have a Web site. How? One can generate an e-newsletter from any e-mail account – server or Web based.

The looming question is: why does my church need an e-newsletter? I have come up with several reasons your church should have an e-newsletter. If you already have an e-newsletter, here are some additional reasons to keep it going!

  1. Go Green - Save a Tree! By sending an e-newsletter, you’re saving a tree by not using paper.
  2. Save Money! With the economic uncertainty around us, save money on copying and postage by sending your newsletter in an electronic version. Sure, the postal service may not like it, but think of the savings to your church budget.
  3. Increase your mailing base. You can increase the number of people receiving your news and updates by simply adding an e-mail address, rather than spending 42 cents on a stamp. This translates into a time and money saver!
  4. Increase your exposure. More people can see your church news and updates through the beauty of forward on an e-mail. People are much more likely to hit forward than to remember to show a printed newsletter to eight people.
  5. Increase frequency. Your church can increase the number of issues it sends without adding cost! Send a quick update on a baptism, a reminder about the hanging of the greens or a change in service time for Christmas Eve – all at no additional cost. Your members will be more informed, and you’ll be the hero.

Hero? I want a cape, a mask and a cool name – like Super Girl!
But Super Girl, my church doesn’t even have a printed newsletter – so this article is for naught, right? Alas, I have come to save the day. Why not implement an e-newsletter for you church? According to the 2000 Census Bureau, 88 percent of adults and 73 percent of children use e-mail. Of your 200-member congregation, approximately 175 of them have e-mail. Ask for their e-mail addresses to start an e-newsletter, and I bet your wish will be granted.

I thought I got three wishes?
Only on “Aladdin”! How about two wishes? If your church already produces a hard-copy newsletter, simply e-mail the file (in either a Microsoft Word compatible version or PDF) to your newsletter recipients. However, if you don’t have a newsletter, you can follow some simple steps to creating a fast, free e-newsletter.

  1. Open Microsoft Word. From here, click “File,” then “New.” Select “newsletter” and use a pre-made newsletter template to insert copy and photos.
  2. Save your file. Save your newsletter file as a relevant name – such as December2008. Then, select “File,” then “Send,” and select “E-mail”.

By following these two simple steps, you can have an e-newsletter for your church, feel good about going green and do a better job of informing your congregation!

---Tracy Wood is the Web coordinator with the Strategic Marketing and Research Team at United Methodist Communications. Super Girl, this part-time comedian, would definitely enjoy Abu as a pet!