A step by step primer on publishing an award-winning
Want to tell how great your children's ministry program is? Or
perhaps you want to do an even better job at communicating upcoming
events? A newsletter can both publicize and celebrate your ministry
if used to its full potential.
"My favorite part of our newsletter is getting to share all the
great things that God is doing with our children," says Ronie
Stikkelman, the publisher of The Connection at New Life Fellowship
in Memphis, Tennessee. "It's exciting to read and it's contagious.
I love it!"
Publishing your own newsletter may sound like an overwhelming task
-- but if you follow these suggestions, your newsletter will become
a powerful ministry tool, too.
KNOW YOUR GOAL
Okay, it seems like a no-brainer, but your first step is to know
your audience. Is it for children, parents, teachers, your entire
church, or a combination of the above? Your answer to this question
will guide every decision.
With your newsletter staff (even if that's just you), brainstorm
your readers' characteristics. Fill up a sheet of paper with words
and phrases that describe your readers. Then write a paragraph that
accurately describes their personality, their world, their likes
and dislikes, and their needs. Use this paragraph as a filter when
you're designing your newsletter's content and look. For example,
if you know that your readers are busy, you'll want to provide
short pieces that are quick to read. Or if you know they're hungry
for new ideas to help their children grow spiritually, you'll want
to include those, too.
Now you're ready to answer the second-most important question: Why
do you want to publish a newsletter anyway? Answering this question
will give you the vision to hang in there during those long
stretches of collating! Prayerfully draft a short mission
statement. Limit it to a couple of sentences and refer to it often.
Perhaps your mission statement will sound something like, "To
celebrate God's work in our children's ministry, to inform parents,
and to provide faith-nurturing activities at home."
DEVELOP YOUR PLAN
A newsletter can easily become overwhelming without a clear plan
of action. Figure out how to put together, print, and distribute
your newsletter while staying within your budget. Here's how.
•Set a budget. Costs include paper, printing, postage (if
distributing through mail), and perhaps purchasing art or editorial
material. Funds may be available through your church, or you could
plan a fund-raiser to cover newsletter expenses.
•Build your team. Look around for people who can
contribute. Some may be able to provide information on upcoming
events, while others may have writing or design experience. Involve
kids in your newsletter production. Younger kids can serve as
reporters, while older kids can help with editing and design.
Enlist stringers. Make a list of the people who have the
information you need for your newsletter. Sources might include
church staff members, the church secretary, parents, Sunday school
teachers, school officials, and kids themselves. Develop an
effective way for these people to funnel information to you
•Choose a name. The name should reflect your audience and
be easy to remember. Use a spin-off of your church name or ask kids
for ideas. This is an easy way to get kids involved right from the
start. Marcia Eveland, the newsletter publisher at Central Union
Church in Honolulu, says they named their newsletter The Tree House
because "the center point of our play area is a tree house."
Solomon David, newsletter publisher at Bachelor Creek Church of
Christ in Wabash, Indiana, says, "The name of our new junior
worship program is Super Stars. Thus the name Super Stars was an
appropriate name for the newsletter."
Elden Faulkner, the newsletter publisher at Centre Street Church
in Calgary, Alberta, says, "Our teachers and directors named this
the Construction Zone because we're busy building kids for
And Ronie Stikkelman, the publisher of Kids Connection at New Life
Fellowship in Memphis, Tennessee, says "The whole reason for our
newsletter is to add one more step in joining with the parents in
ministering to their children."
So you see how your purpose in ministry directly affects your
purpose in publishing a newsletter, and thus results in the best
name possible for your newsletter.
Still not sure what to name your newsletter? Have a
newsletter-naming contest. That's what Linda Foster did with Faith
Kidzette at Faith Evangelical Church in Loveland, Colorado. Invite
people to suggest names, or give them several names to vote
•Consider your format and printing options. Before making the
decision about whether to use a printer or photocopier, you need to
decide what size paper you'll use. The most common formats are 8
1/2 X 11, printed front and back; 8 1/2 X 11, folded to 5 1/2 X8
1/2; 8 1/2 X14, printed back and front; 8 1/2 X 14, folded to 7X8
1/2; and 11X17, folded to 8 1/2 X 11. Then choose whether you'll
use the more expensive option of printing or simply photocopy your
•Decide how often to publish. Will a monthly, bimonthly,
or quarterly newsletter best meet the needs of your children's
•Determine your distribution. Will you mail your
newsletters or hand them out? If you decide to mail them, check
with the post office about size regulations and mailing rates. Ask
for information regarding special bulk mailing postage rates,
•Plan your work. Once you've decided how often to
publish, you need to develop a plan for completing your newsletter.
Begin by setting the dates for newsletters to be mailed or handed
out. Then back up a few days and set a date for having it printed
or copied. Back up another week and set the due date for article
submissions. Allow enough time between the articles submission date
and the copying/printing deadlines to edit and design the