Free Church Newsletter Guide: Templates, Best Practices, Examples

Posted by Vanco on Sep 10, 2021 12:43:51 PM

News Button on Keyboard - Church Newsletter Guide

Looking for church newsletter best practices, templates and examples? We’ve compiled a detailed guide providing everything you need to build your own church newsletter quickly. By following the guidance in this free resource, you’ll be able to maximize the value of this amazing tool churches across the country have used to market their church, grow their membership and keep members informed and engaged.  

Table of Contents 

10 Church Newsletter Best Practices to Follow 

Before we get into templates and examples, let’s start with the 10 church newsletter best practices churches should follow. Without these guidelines, your newsletter will fall short of its purposes, which include: 

With the growth of online worship services, the importance of your church newsletter has grown several times over. Online worshipers can be less engaged than in-person members without the right tools to nurture a sense of belonging and commitment to the church’s mission.  

By following these 10 church newsletter best practices, you’ll have a valuable tool that not only grows membership, but nurtures existing members to strengthen their commitment to your church’s mission. 

1. Keep It Concise

The average length of a typical church newsletter is around 500 words per issue. If you have too much content, people will not read it all, or they won't even finish reading it. You want them to get something out of it, so make sure there are enough good things to say. 

Avoid Fluff 

Fluff, in this context, refers to unnecessary content. Take the sentence, "I think I would like to donate some money to the church today." Instead, you could write, "Today, I want to make a church donation."  

In most cases, fluff isn't a sign of laziness. It's more conversational writing not adapted for print. 

Fluff is often very useful in spoken conversation. When combined with the tone of voice, it can keep a listener engaged. But it doesn't translate well into text. 

Does All the Content Add Value? 

Some things don't need saying. In a church newsletter, you don't need to tell everyone going to church about the importance of God. 

But you can embrace God as a powerful topic of discussion, especially as a tool to bring your congregation together through dark times. 

For example, suppose the local community hears of a bereavement. You may wish to use the importance of God to invoke emotion and connection with the reader in an obituary. But, if used as a statement, it may come across as condescending.  

Do You Have Evergreen Content? 

Evergreen content is timeless information that has value beyond its current date. It includes articles from other publications as well as original content. The key here is to find evergreen topics that aren't in existing newsletters. 

Suppose you're trying to shrink your church newsletter. Take out the evergreen content and save it for the next edition. 

Or, if the news is quiet, feel free to recycle content or add some evergreen content you've had in the bank for a few months. 

2. Discuss Stewardship

How much money does your congregation offer in support each year? This information helps you make several decisions. The first is how to address giving. At a minimum, you should let members know how they can support the church in each newsletter. We recommend directing individuals to your church giving page from their mobile devices. Doing so allows givers to act on their generosity before they can forget.  

Once members land on the giving page, your software should be able to do the heavy lifting required to inspire generosity for each visitor. A strong giving page will have a list of funds and descriptions of their impact on the congregation and community. That’s why it is important you choose a provider that has online giving pages with storytelling features. These features show the impact of each one of your church’s funds and creates excitement about them. When members understand the great work your church is doing, they want to be a part of it, leading them to offer more support. 

Some churches might want to go even further when it comes to stewardship. They will often include a message about stewardship in their church newsletters. While stewardship is important, there are other subjects your church should cover in your newsletter. That’s why detailed messages on the need for stewardship should be saved for two or three monthly church newsletter editions a year. Otherwise, your church could come off as pushy and single-minded. 

Most churches will reserve space for these messages during stewardship campaigns and/or year-end giving 

3.Make It Easy to Read

When it comes to any piece of media, church newsletters included, nothing is more daunting for a recipient than a huge block of unbroken text. That’s why you’ll want to break it up into chunks using these key elements. 

Headlines 

When creating an engaging headline, think about the theme of the church newsletter. What do you want the headline to represent? 

Also, consider what kind of person might open the email first. Is it someone who wants to know more about the church? Or is it someone who's wanting to learn more about the Bible itself? 

Images 

Use images where possible. They help break up long paragraphs and give readers a visual cue to where they should focus. 

Images allow you to include links to related material as well. Links can include videos, websites and social media posts. 

Bullet points 

A bullet point list is a great way to get straight to the point fast. It allows you to make quick decisions about which items to highlight. Use bullets sparingly. Try not to have more than three per paragraph. 

Links 

If you're reading digital newsletters, click the links provided. See where they take you, and most of all, if they work. 

Links are a great way to elaborate on key points. So if you're short on space in your newsletter, you can always link to a bigger piece elsewhere on the internet. 

Layout 

A well-written newsletter will have a layout that enriches content within the newsletter. When analyzing other church newsletters, look for quality examples. These include things like clear headings, bold fonts, white backgrounds and simple layouts. 

4. Keep Them Engaged

Once you've got everything looking right, the next step is to keep your audience engaged. The best church newsletters keep readers coming back for more. 

Here are three tips to help you achieve this goal. 

Keep Your Content Fresh 

If you're sending out a weekly update, try to vary the format every week. Do this so that each issue feels different from its predecessor. 

If you publish a monthly newsletter, consider publishing two issues per month instead. Or, if you produce annual or semi-annual editions, think about producing four times a year. 

Or, suppose you're using social media to promote your church newsletter. Then post throughout the week. Don't wait until Sunday morning to share something new. 

Make Sure They Know What to Expect 

It sounds like common sense, but most churches still forget this vital part of the process. Make sure people know what to expect when subscribing to your church newsletter. 

Include clear instructions at signup time. These can include links to any relevant pages within your website. Also, ensure subscribers receive emails confirming receipt of their subscription. 

Ask for Feedback 

Finally, once you've published your church newsletter, take feedback from those who received it. 

Ask questions about whether they found it useful, interesting or engaging. Did anything stand out? Were there any problems with delivery? 

These answers should give valuable insight into ways you can improve future editions. And, you can also build engagement among your readers. 

5.Include Visuals 

Our brains process images faster than words. So use pictures whenever possible. That includes using photos from events such as weddings, baptisms, confirmations, fundraisers, weekly services, Bible studies and more. 

Photo Releases 

When using these photos of your congregation it is important to respect the privacy of members. Although many churches don’t use release forms when they use photos of members, it is something to consider, especially when it comes to images involving minors. 

That’s why churches will send photo release forms home with kids during Sunday school or youth groups for parents to sign. This will help protect the church and show parents within the congregation that you respect the privacy and safety of their children. 

Whether you’re interested in getting these waivers for church youth or passing them out to the entire congregation as inserts within your church bulletins, you’ll want to use one of the many premade templates online to save time and money. Here are just a few that will do the trick.  

Images from External Sources 

Aside from the photos you take of your church, congregation and events, you’ll need images from external sources. When using clipart or stock photos for a marketing tool like a church newsletter, you’ll to follow copyright laws. Churches, though they are nonprofits, aren’t exempt from these laws. Because you don’t want to have to pay for each image within your church newsletter, you’ll want to use images that are in the public domain. 

Below we’ve curated a list of royalty free images your church can use. Before using any of the images, check the restrictions first. Some might require attribution, while others will not.  

Where to Find Free Clipart 

Where to Find Free Stock Images 

6. Digitize Your Newsletter 

Creating a digital church newsletter can widen your reach to those outside your community, provide your ministry with archives and offer convenience to members. Creating a digital church newsletter might sound difficult, but don’t worry. Learning about digitizing your newsletters saves you plenty of time, and it is not as hard as it sounds. Before deciding whether you want to digitize your church newsletter, consider the following factors: 

Church Newsletter Sharing and Promotion 

Social media has become a valuable tool for many churches. Your church can use it to distribute your church newsletter. Before signing up for Facebook and other accounts if you haven’t done so already, determine what platforms members and those in the surrounding community use the most. It is best to start with one or two platforms and then add more later.  

Use Email Marketing Software 

Email marketing software makes creating and distributing email campaigns easy. You'll find plenty of options available online. 

These options include anything from free services to paid packages. Some even offer templates that make designing your campaign easy. 

The great thing about many of these tools is they incorporate many design features, but they also allow for automation. That means you can create church newsletters well in advance. 

In doing so, you can schedule a release date and time, and you can make modifications up until the last second. This helps ensure you never miss a release date. And with data analysis, you can even see how many people are opening emails. 

Although you’ll want to do your research on the available platforms, most churches will use a church management system (ChMS). These systems hold a database of your churchgoer’s information, including donation records and contact info. Most will also help you create lists and send emails. These systems aren’t free, but they’re inexpensive and a must-have for growing churches 

Website Layout 

Church newsletters are often hard to read because of the way they look on a screen. Reading text on a mobile phone can be difficult. It can often be small or get cut off. Email systems or websites with responsive web design software accommodate text on smaller screens like phones and tablets. 

Responsive webpages format the documents for you depending on the device the web visitor is using. Suppose the website recognizes you're using a tablet in portrait. It will shift the text boxes around for the best viewing experience. Then, it will shift differently on a desktop in the landscape mode. 

7. Don’t Forget About Print 

Some of your older audiences might not regularly use email or social media, the main vehicles for distributing your church newsletters. That’s why you might want to include a printed version of the newsletter within your church bulletin each month. By printing copies, you’ll ensure older members can take the bulletin home where they can keep track of upcoming activities and share them with friends and family. 

You’ll also be able to get it in front of members who might have missed your email or social media post. And, for any new visitors, you’ll be able to get a valuable church marketing tool in their hands during their visit. 

8. Support Your Fundraising

Ensure the success of your church fundraisers. Highlight the ways people can support your efforts through your church newsletter by including key details about each event in advance, such as... 

  • The time and date. 
  • Any links to event pages or Facebook Event pages. 
  • An appeal that explains why members and guests should support the fundraiser.  

Churches often overlook the last point at their own peril. Remember people receive requests to give from all sorts of sources, and fewer people devote all their tithing to the church, which is one reason why religious giving is down in the U.S. With more competition for donations from sources secular and non-secular, your church needs to show why members should support your fundraiser financially or with their time. If you show them the impact it will have on the things they care about, their generosity will follow.  

Show members who the fundraiser will help. Or, if it is for church upkeep, explain why your church needs to make fixes or upgrades. If you’ve done this fundraiser before, show the impact it had. If you have images to support your case, share them. For example, a compelling photo of the children your Christmas toy drive supported will warm the hearts of members and inspire giving.  

After you’ve made the case for your fundraiser, all you need to do is plan, schedule and promote your set of fundraisers through your church marketing tools such as your newsletter. If you’re looking for additional events and fundraisers to help support your ministry, check out this list of the most successful fundraisers churches are using right now for inspiration.  

9. Proofreading Your Church Newsletter Best Practices

When it comes to church newsletter best practices and making sure your newsletter is on point, it doesn’t hurt to have proofreaders. Here are some tips to make sure you don't make mistakes! 

Proofread Before Sending Out Copies 

It will help if you proofread each edition of your newsletter before sending it out. Make sure there aren't spelling or grammatical errors. Also, check for typos and missing words. These small details add up fast, which means they won't go unnoticed. 

Ask for assistance from church members who have a way with words and grammar to help your staff proofread your church newsletter before its sendoff each month. This isn’t a huge time-commitment for a volunteer, but it’s still important to have more than one volunteer proofreader. Make sure you have two or three to not only catch all the mistakes, but to cover for when one proofreader is unavailable. 

Include Your Contact Information in Every Issue of Your Church Newsletter 

If people want to receive your church newsletter, they'll sign up right away, but not everyone who gets a hold of your newsletter will be a member. Church members will often pass the newsletter on to friends outside the church community. When non-members get the link to a digital church newsletter or a physical copy, you want them to be able to contact your church and join the community. 

Include your name, address, phone number, website URL and social media information on every issue. Aside from promoting your church to those outside your church community, the contact information also helps members get a hold of you with ease. Remember, these members might have questions for the pastor or staff about related events. It’s your job to nurture and support these folks.  

10. Naming Your Church Newsletter

You can choose a straightforward newsletter name, such as “Vanco Valley Church Newsletter,” but where’s the fun in that? Challenge your staff and members to get creative with the naming of your church newsletter. Create a list of names and ask members to vote on the most appealing one. Try our free resource on church newsletter naming if you’re looking to build your list of names. 

Church Newsletter Examples for Inspiration 

If you’re unsure of what to put into a church newsletter or how to lay it out, you’ll want to see what other churches have done. There are many free church newsletter samples available online. Look for themes and styles that resonate with yours. Then adapt these ideas to fit your needs. 

Hunting for great church newsletter examples takes time, which you and your staff are short on. That’s why we found a few of the best church newsletters to activate your muse. 

Church Newsletter Example #1 - Segmenting 

Although a newsletter as in-depth as this example isn’t necessary or ideal for every church, quantity can help. A robust church newsletter, such as this example, can educate members about faith, inform them of upcoming events and even allow your church to segment messages to varying audiences. 

This church newsletter example allows this ministry to speak to several different audiences at once. With a Kid’s Zone section, a woman’s ministry page, a general message and a youth section, this church newsletter is well suited to speak to all of its members.  

By breaking the newsletter up into these different sections and audiences, it makes it easy for members to skim to the portions that most affect them.  

If you choose to create a detailed newsletter such as this one, try breaking up the piece to speak specifically to key audiences within the general congregation. 

Church Newsletter Example #2 - Trinity Lutheran Church & School 

This church newsletter example is a little longer, as it has plenty of news. Not only does it have church information to dispense, but it needs to inform parents about key events surrounding their school. One of the many great things Trinity Lutheran does in this example is the Happy Birthday section on page seven.  

This section is a great way for churches to build and strengthen their community by sharing in the celebration of notable events. If your church keeps track of this information, try celebrating these events within your church newsletter.  

Church Newsletter Example #3 - News for the Flock Newsletter

There’s a lot to like in this church newsletter example. First of all, it is visually appealing. You can see they took the time to source images from within their congregation and used stock and clipart photos. With these images, the church newsletter was able to break up its large chunks of text. It also makes it easier for members to skim through and find the sections that are most important for them. If your church has someone who can work with Adobe, you could take a similar approach as the News for the Flock.  

Aside from it's great layout, this church also includes a section on page three where they welcome new members. The future of any church relies on the growth and inclusion of new members. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to introduce these newcomers to the congregation through the church newsletter.

Try following this church newsletter's example. Include an image of the new members to help those in your church identify them. Also include a short bio to serve as a springboard for future conversations between existing members and new members.  

Church Newsletter Example #4 - The Crest Newsletter

You can draw a lot of inspiration from this church newsletter example, but there are two items in particular you should take note of. 

1) Prayer Power 

Members and guests appreciate prayers and the consideration and empathy that comes with them. That’s why a callout for those wishing or needing the congregation’s prayers is a great idea. This church newsletter example not only has a section for those needing prayers, but lists the individuals out by subheaders. This breaks up the large block of names and ensures nobody gets lost in the list.  

2) Showing Results 

The section, titled October Local Outreach Giving, on page nine shows the results of the previous month’s giving efforts. Churches should take the time and space to share the impact that stewardship campaigns had on the community.  

Your members are generous people, but without updates, it’s hard for members to know what their support achieved. Taking little timeouts such as these will demonstrate to members that their money is helping build others up or working towards vital church missions.  

More Church Newsletter Ideas

These are just a few of the brilliant church newsletter examples you can find online. But if you’re looking for further inspiration, check out our free resource to give you church newsletter ideas for every month. 

The Free Church Newsletter Templates You Should Know About 

Church newsletter templates are essential for your ministry to efficiently produce content. And, you’ll want to use more than one template to ensure your monthly edition doesn’t get stale.  

Building these templates can be time consuming, but it isn’t too hard with the help of a dedicated volunteer or volunteers.  

Build Your Own from Scratch

For ministries looking to build their own church newsletter template, consider building one in Microsoft Word. Because so many of your members and volunteers are familiar with Microsoft Word, it will be easier to produce. If you want to go this route, follow this guide. It will take you through the process of building a church newsletter template in Microsoft Word quickly. 

Use an Existing Microsoft Word Template

There are free church newsletter templates that various entities have made available online, such as these from Powered Template or. To access the templates from Powered Template, you’ll have to sign up for a free account, ignore the ads trying to get you to use their premium versions and select the Microsoft Word version for each. Though it requires a few steps, the total effort is minimal. It only took about two minutes to get our hands on some good-looking templates from Power Template.  

This service does have premium versions of church newsletter templates, which are a little more flashy than the free versions. And, the premium versions won’t break the bank. Wherever you decide to get your church newsletter templates, you’ll need to check the usage requirements if any. Most, like those from Powered Template, require attribution. In most cases, they will have specific details on how they want an attribution made. For instance, Powered Template requires an attribution to them within the footer of printed and web church newsletters. The digital church newsletters will have to also include a link within the footer.  

Mailchimp's Free Digital Church Newsletter Templates

If you’ve never heard of Mailchimp, many in your congregation have and can help you with signing up for a free account. Mailchimp is an email software that allows you to build emails and newsletters using premade templates. You can also manage lists, schedule emails for a future date and access other CRM features. 

Mailchimp won’t be free for every church, but with a limit of 2,000 contacts on its free plan and 10,000 sends per month, only the super mega churches will need to pay for a plan, especially if it’s only used for monthly newsletters and a few other communications.  

Building emails on Mailchimp is surprisingly easy. The email/newsletter builder allows you to drag and drop modules, or you can simply stick to the template by adding in your unique images and text. If you’re new to Mailchimp and want to build the newsletter on your own, you can easily finish in an hour or two. Follow this guide for the complete Mailchimp overview.  Or, watch one of the many video tutorials available online, like this one 

Canva

Like Mailchimp, someone within your congregation has probably used Canva. Canva provides professional quality print and digital materials such as newsletters, flyers, postcards and much more. Your volunteers could help you generate a newsletter in no time, and you could easily make one by yourself within an hour.  

Canva has dozens of free church newsletter templates for you to use. You can access each one by clicking into them. Once you click into them, you’ll be taken to their editor. Then all you need to do is swap out the text with your own unique copy and imagery, and then you’re all set.  

Although these templates are free, the images within them might cost you a dollar or two. That’s how Canva makes its money.

Canva can still be completely free if you choose the right template and stick to using your own images. However, the cost of building any newsletter on Canva can be done for just a few dollars.  

Vanco

About the Author

Vanco

Vanco has helped churches through more than 20 years of holiday giving seasons by providing electronic giving solutions that have boosted donations for tens of thousands of churches. To see how your church can use eGiving to increase donations, give us a call at 855.213.3705 or contact us online to receive a demo.