Church Outreach: How email can help churches reach their community
Did you know that email can be a very effective tool to grow your church outreach? I think it should be included in the top ten communication tools a church needs to reach potential members. In order for a church to grow it has to have an ongoing conversation with people in their community. Email allows churches to have this conversation in a very cost effective way and direct way.
I’ll cover two topics in this article about church outreach using email:
- How to gather email addresses
- What information to send in an email
Most email programs allow you to set up multiple lists and I recommend that you take advantage of this feature. The more targeted you are the higher the open and response rates. There are many options on segmenting your lists but here are a few:
- Members who want to receive the newsletter by email
- Visitors with preschool, elementary or high school children
- Single couples
- People with children in your pre-school or after-school programs
- People who attended a special program at your church such as a children’s Easter Egg hunt or Christmas service
- People who signed up online
Make the list appropriate for your church. The larger the church the more potential categories. You can always add categories.
Now to start collecting email addresses. There are two methods, offline and online. You can capture emails offline by putting an insert in your church bulletin, hand them out a events, Sunday School, VBS and at your preschool or after school programs. Make sure you ask questions such as: I’m interested in receiving information about events for children, youth, special events or general information from the church. That will help you determine what lists to put them on.
Online you should put your sign up forms on your website in multiple places including your home page, youth, children and young adult pages. You should also put it on your facebook page.
There are many good email programs available. My personal preference is Aweber. They have great customer service, easy to use templates and a lot of helpful information. At the time I’m writing this they also are offering a one month trial for $1.00.
Once you have started your list the next question is what to send them. This is where segmenting the list will help. If they have signed up for children’s ministry send them information on what’s going on for kids at your church. Make sure you include all relevant information along with an invitation. It is a good idea to include information on worship services for children and adults and include a link to your general church newsletter. You’ll be able to tell who has clicked each link which gives you the potential to send a follow up email about the link they clicked on.
If your church is large enough and you have the resources I recommend sending out information once a week. That will help keep your church outreach and the activities going on in their minds. If your church creates videos they are a great thing to share. They don’t have to be anything fancy. The videos with the most views on YouTube are usually simple videos shot with no editing. Videos have the power to connect in ways that words cannot.
Let me know what you think or what your church is doing to reach out to their community.