This is my third blog post. Like most ministers and rabbis, I have plenty to say and no end of opinions. Right now I am between congregations, but as a minister I had the forums of pulpits, newsletter articles, the occasional interview, and of course, personal conversations and counseling.
There are conventions around most of these transactions. We get training (however rudimentary) for pastoral counseling, and there are any number of books and traditions on crafting “sermons that work.” Today I was considering passing along some excellent advice for church newsletter editors from Rev. Charles A. Gaines. I found it very useful when I took over that task from our church administrator.
But now many congregations no longer send out a paper newsletter. It is so much more cost-effective to post the news on a website or email it to everyone. Unfortunately, that leaves out a number of people who do not have access to the internet or have a hard time with attachments. And sometimes this includes the older people who nurtured, grew and financed their religious home through tough times and costly projects. They are thereby cut off from the life of the congregation and the events that keep people close. They may not hear about life passages. They don’t even know about their opportunities to support the institution they love. As for me, I just prefer a hard copy that I can carry around with me to read at odd moments, or file for future reference. I have more than enough to read online, and I appreciate being able to step away from the computer and read about people now and then. And I confess, it often made its way into the bathroom.
It’s normal for us to lose patience with old technology and slower methods. But I still believe that it is cost-effective to create and mail some sort of printed newsletter for those who need them. Furthermore, it is the loving, considerate, and respectful thing to do for our members, whether they are wise, crotchety, or absent. And then we can also have some around for visitors to take home with them as well.
What do you think? How does your congregation handle this issue?
Next week, I will get back to my original topic, which is the content and design of newsletter on paper vs. the plastic medium of the internet, and some of the issues that virtual news creates. I am sure that we all have lots to say.