Answering the questions you are asking is one of my primary purposes in creating the content for this website and the article here and the video linked to it were prompted both by the question below that deals strictly with newsletters for seniors and several questions I've had lately about typography.
What is the best way to send at least a monthly newsletter out to an older congregation when some don't think it is worth the expense, and others complain that we are not communicating with all our members, but only those that show up in a given week? Not everyone uses email, or texts because of the age of the congregation.
There are really several questions intertwined here, which is what makes it difficult to answer. The first part is somewhat simple and straight forward. The second part is a little more challenging.
Let me reword each part slightly to be able to handle them clearly.
Part # 1 of the question: What is the best way to send out a monthly newsletter to an older congregation when not all of them use email or text?
This part is easy to answer, though it can be challenging to carry out, because there is no one best way. We live in a time of both/and, not either/or in all of our communications. Though it would make our church communication lives so much easier if we could create communications for any one group, one way, it doesn't work that way anymore.
To communicate effectively to an older congregation with a newsletter (which is an excellent communication tool) the best way to do it is to do one version in print and then another online. Again, that is probably not what most people want to hear, because it seems like extra work, but if you do it in the way suggested below it doesn't need to be difficult. Here are some tips on that:
- First, create your print version. You don't have to do a fancy layout. CONTENT is always the most important thing.
- For both, be sure the text is large enough and has enough line spacing. For newsletters created with MS Publisher, Arial 12, with 1.25 line-spacing is very readable. See video on Senior newsletter for an illustrated example.
- Do not change your content, slogans, or images between media channels. You have one message, keep that the same. You only need to change the channel you put the message into. This not only makes production easier, you don't create confusion when people see the same message in different channels (print and online). Instead of confusion, you reinforce the message.
- When creating a website version, you can either make a PDF of the newsletter and put it on your website, or you could copy and paste the text as an article or series of articles.
- Create a team of people who are comfortable in different channels and create guidelines for passing information on in a timely manner so all the channels go out at the same time as much as is possible.
Part #2 of the question: How do we decide whether the cost in time and money is worth the methods we choose? Do we intentionally leave out some people because they aren't worth the trouble? (you probably wouldn't say it that way, but that is what is being said)..
The practical advice on how to create a newsletter in two channels is fairly simple and straight-forward, but the second one is the real issue: How can we do all this work in the church office when we are stressed out and have little time, can't we do what is easy for us and that will reach most of the people? Is it really worth the trouble for a few cranky, old people? (You probably don't say that out-loud, but it may be a thought.)
The best answer to this question, has nothing to do with the technicalities and tips of how to efficiently create a church newsletter and everything to do with who you are and who you serve as you create it. It has to do with why you do anything you do in Christian communications. You aren't working for a secular company or an advertising agency whose primary goal in all communication decisions to make money and be effective while doing that.
To do that, a secular company selects a target group to create communications for that will give the greatest return on the advertising agencies investment and jettisons any other group that is not large enough or has enough money to justify their time. A successful, secular advertising agency would not bother with the few members of an older congregation who won't learn email. If they are left out so, what?
But you don't work for a secular advertising agency.
You work for the shepherd who considered one little wandering sheep important enough to go after; a father who considered one prodigal son important enough to watch for and throw a party for upon his return, a coming King who takes personally every act of kindness you do as a personal response to Him and who will reward you for it or rebuke you for your lack of care before the hosts of heaven.
If you remember you are creating communications as an act of service to Jesus and that every person, no matter what their age or technical ability, deserves to be fully informed about the ministries of the church, if you remember that every person matters to Jesus and that you must do everything you can to help them grow to mature discipleship no matter what their age or ability, if that is the core conviction of your heart, you'll do what you need to do to make it happen.
That often means more work and I hope the video I've created helps—that's my calling, to do what I can to lighten your load. Know also I'm praying for you that the Lord would encourage your heart and give you wisdom and strength to serve all his people in ways that please him.
To go to a video that shows how to create a senior newsletter: CLICK HERE
To download an MS Publisher Template of a Senior newsletter: CLICK HERE.