Even though most communications professionals talk about social media, email is the still the best way to communicate with your congregation, particularly during times of crisis.
Any communications strategy should certainly include social media, but you might not want to rely solely on it. Email, even though it can be boring, can also your best opportunity to share your message.
5 Reasons Email Works
- It gives you more space to expand your thoughts, share important information, and tell stories.
- You can include multiple links.
- It doesn’t disappear from feeds quite so easily.
- People can easily save.
- It’s easy to forward and share.
Even as you look to communicate instantly on social media, don’t forget that email is one of your most useful tools during this time.
On the first Sunday of digital services, one of the largest churches in the country closed the online service with this encouragement: “If you’re not on our email list, make sure you go to our website and give us your email address…it’s how we can stay in touch and share important updates with your family.”
Here is one of the nation’s largest churches, with more resources and creativity than most, encouraging viewers to sign up for email updates. They know email is one of the most effective communication methods.
Times of uncertainty are not the best times to experiment with new communications platforms and mediums. Instead, you want to rely on approaches that are familiar to your congregation.
If you use a Church Management System like Planning Center, Church Community Builder, Realm or one of the many providers, you have the ability to email your congregation.
Keeping this database accurate and up-to-date is an important responsibility as your email database will be a primary source of communication.
In some cases, you can connect your database to a third party software like Mailchimp, MailerLite or Convert. Email lists like this give you the ability to create quick sign up forms and will help you understand who is opening your emails.
Here are some email marketing companies that do a great job.
- Mailerlite – Free up to 1k subscribers
- Mailchimp – Free up to 2k subscribers, robust, use if planning to segment audiences
- Send In Blue – Free up to 300
- Convert Kit: Free up to 1k subscribers
When you create your email updates, know that you don’t have to use a ton of graphics, templates, or fancy style.
Think about the emails that hit your Inbox. You immediately think the ones with a bunch of graphics and formatting are from companies selling something. The messages from a real person with mostly words feel more like a personal message.
Here are some other tips for crafting email messages to your congregation.
- Write like a person. When you’re crafting your emails, write like a regular human being, using regular words and phrasing. You’re not writing a dissertation or a government report…keep it personal.
- Send church emails from a person. Don’t use email@example.com or worse, firstname.lastname@example.org as your sender. These emails are more likely to go to the spam folder.
- Write to a person. Just like you should write like a real person, imagine you’re writing to a real person (not a group of people).
Great Examples of Email Messaging
Check out the insanely practical ways that churches have announced major changes via email. (What about you? Find and share more ideas online at covid.church)
Permission to Stay Home, Andy Stanley. This email went out the week before services were cancelled.
COVID 19 Update, Andy Stanley. This email announced the move to digital and gave three reasons. https://cfresourcelibrary.s3.amazonaws.com/eBooks/COVID19/Emails/North+Point+COVID19+Update.pdf
No Services This Sunday, Dan Sweaza. Great email announcing the change and answering questions.
A Pandemic Is A Terrible Thing To Waste, Andy Stanley. Connected people to their livestream, and encouraged people to invite their friends.
Are You Remotely Prepared?, App Sumo. Practical life advice laid out in a way that is helpful, informative, and high value.
A Note To Our Community, Fab Fit Fun. A message of hope that continues their company’s mission statement of bringing “happiness and well-being to your doorstep”.
How To Help…A Note of Encouragement, Light & Airy. With the mission of helping people find & capture the magic in the everyday, they took an empathetic and practical approach to how you can of things you can do to help others and ways to find joy or be productive when you’re at home. Practical value add with a message of hope and help.
Cancelling Easter, Restoration Presbyterian Church.
How to Build an Email List for Your Community
Building an email list can be super simple or complex depending on the amount of emails and the methods you use to go about getting them.
Here are some ideas to start building an email list:
- Capture people's addresses from inside and outside your church: Add an opt-in form to your website. Opt-in Monster is a powerful and popular tool for lead generation.
- Create resources that would be helpful to your community and give them away for free on your website. It could be resources for parents and kids, devotional guides, or community-driven news. Ask for an email address in return.
- Ask for people to subscribe to your emails at the end of your message. Give them an email address to “opt-in” to, use a service like text-in-church and give them a phone number, or create an online form for them to fill out after service.
This is a great opportunity to share messages of hope, helpful information, and ways to be like Jesus throughout the week. How are you using email to love others and point them towards Jesus? Share your story in the comments below.