Monday, October 5, 2009

On Church Communication: The Congregational Newsletter

There once was a day that I considered starting my own business after my own heart--publishing congregational newsletters. In several seasons of life I carried a torch for community journalism, something planted by watching my Granddad's vocation and passing along to me an interest in writing and community.

Many times in the past few years I have lamented that I have not been able to converse with my Granddad about the change in print journalism. He died in 2001. He used to write me letters on his old manual typewriter while in college and seminary, almost always encouraging me to continue writing. He said there would always be demand for good writers. Though I had very little formal training outside of my Granddad's mentoring, his old journalism books and high school classes, I have looked at congregational newsletters and known they could be better. I have met few church office staff and/or volunteers who enjoy creating congregational newsletters. Publication and distribution take a long time. It's hard for paper congregational newsletters to keep up with news displayed on more real-time oriented media--Twitter, blogs, websites, podcasts, even the electronic sign in the FLCC parking lot.  Like the newspaper, the newsletter is on life support, and it's becoming more difficult to argue in favor of the resources allocated toward an antiquated medium.

My struggle remains with those who do not use electronic media outlets. Do they not deserve to learn about congregational events, read about what is going on with particular ministries, have an opportunity to connect with God and others through the newsletter? Is there a moral obligation to be in contact with the isolated through print media? I don't know the answers to these questions yet, but I hope readers feel welcome to offer their input. I'm not interested in shutting down the First Lutheran Community Church newsletter, but I believe a reflection upon congregational communication is not only a good reflection for the interim time, but for the Church as well.

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