Monday, November 26, 2007
Putting Sacred Cows Out To Pasture
I know there are a few sacred cows in every congregation, but I'm willing to bet that one of the most sacred of them all is the monthly newsletter.
We're thinking of taking ours out to pasture.
Here's what we're thinking: In order to do it right, the newsletter is very labor intensive as well as costly. We have a volunteer editor and a group of retired folk who come in to collate, fold, bundle for bulk mailing and schlep to the post office.
But, even before that, every staff member and certain committee chairs and wardens have to get their articles in on time - always an exercise akin to herding cats. If the Risograph machine breaks down, the printing can get delayed, annoying the volunteers and sometimes rendering the information too late to be useful. Delays in delivery can also happen if we hit a month with a high volume of bulk mail.
We have recently begun a weekly email newsletter - sort of the way the national church and our diocese is doing. We keep announcements and sermons on our web page, and link these in the weekly email newsletter. We send the sermon and announcements by weekly snail mail to the two dozen or so of our fragile elderly or those who are ill or without computers.
Our newsletter is also available on line. More and more people are telling us to take them off the snail mail list as they prefer to view it on line. A concern is that, eventually, we won't have enough addresses to qualify for the reduced rate of bulk mail - such as it is.
We are thinking of reducing our monthly newsletter to quarterly - 2 - 5 -8 -11 (February, May, August and November), and mailing it only to those who really want it. It would also continue to be available online (where graphics and color pictures are cleaner and clearer and much easier to read).
We are thinking of starting a 'parish blog' - a place where all staff members can post their own once a month 'thought' pieces about their ministry, along with any announcements and explanations about upcoming events. The Parish Administrator would list these posts in the weekly email newsletter with a link. Members of the congregation can then offer comments and feedback - a great interactive feature.
We've just started a blog for the Church School which seems to be working out very well. It gave us the idea to start a Parish Blog, which we're hoping to launch in January for a one year period of experimentation.
What have you done in your congregation about communication? Are you still finding your monthly parish newsletter a reliable and effective means of communication? What creative ideas have you discovered to be in good communication with your congregation?
What do you think?