A question came in from a church business administrator: “For our church newsletters, should it contain long articles or short ones, sermons or not, should it be visitor friendly?” It’s a great question and one that should be answered as you plan the content for your church or ministry newsletter. We’ll explore the options for answering it in this article.
(Update note: I wrote this article originally for written newsletters, but the advice following applies equally well to online newsletters, though you may want to start some of the articles in the online newsletter and continue longer material on your website.)
Long articles or short?
The answer to that part of the questions isn’t as obvious as it might seem. I think initially, with our busy schedules today many people would instinctively answer “SHORT!” Almost no one complains that newsletter articles are too short.
But in consideration of length there are a number of factors to consider:
- Newsletters contain a variety of material. Some is vision-casting from the senior pastor, some teaching, some history or story-telling, some news, notes and announcements.
- More important than setting an arbitrary length, the length of the articles or announcements in your newsletter material should be appropriate to the topic. For example, if the senior pastor is explaining the vision of the church, inspiring members for outreach or missions, setting a new direction or challenging for a building campaign, that piece might need a page or two.
- Currently there is a growing popularity of "long-form", meaning simply longer length articles. Particularly when you do an online version of your newsletter, you might add additional information, background, commentary, or links on a topic. Many of the major newspapers today (the New York Times is a primary example) and have found this extremely popular. While waiting, commuting, or tired of playing games, people will often read longer articles on their mobile devices.
- Announcements of re-occurring events usually do not need long, lengthy explanations on why people should attend. Short, catchy announcements designed what I call “want-ad style” and that contain the name of the sponsoring person or group, purpose, starting and ending time, full contact information, cost and directions to get there and if child care is provided are what is needed.
- At the same time, even more lengthy material that takes a page or two can be made more visually interesting by breaking it into sections with headers, summarizing key facts in a sidebar, pulling out interesting or key quotes and highlighting them, adding a picture and caption. A page or two with these visual elements integrated into the story will be read more easily than a solid page or two of text with no breaks.