Remember the fun you had when, as a child, you received a letter in the mail? There still is something uplifting about getting a personal greeting in the mail. Digital technology doesn't have to mean the end of that excitement. If your church emails have become so routine that they are being ignored, it's time to spice things up. Engage your email readers with one of these great ideas.
Tell the history of your church
When was your church founded? Has your congregation ever heard its story? Communicate your church history in an email. Although the ideal length for emails is somewhat debatable, most experts would agree that you shouldn't attempt to write a book in one email. So, when writing and sharing your church's history, you may want to keep it brief. You may even want to compose a list of interesting facts or tidbits and add one or two to each of your weekly/monthly emails over a period of time. Give the list a cool header such as "Fun facts about our church" or "Things you never knew about our church" to capture the readers' attention.
Make them laugh
Charlie Chaplin once said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted." Everybody loves a good laugh, and everyone can benefit from an extra smile or two. Help your congregants get their quota by adding something funny to your emails. Draw on the humor you use in preaching. Share something funny that happened in your own life, or find a clean joke or story online.
Introduce your staff
How well does your congregation know you? What about the other staff? Does anyone even know the name of the person who vacuums the sanctuary and empties the trash cans every Saturday night? Help your congregation get to know you and your staff better. Each week highlight one member of your staff, sharing a picture, short bio and job description. Don't forget to include personal items such as "favorite Bible verse" or "favorite hymn."
Add free resources
It doesn't get much better than free, and using that word in your subject line is sure to get the attention of your email audience. Make a point of periodically including free resources for your congregation, and everyone will want to open your emails to see the newest "goody." Include attachments such as computer wallpaper designs, devotional guides, Bible reading guides and family fun activities. You can also offer special give-a-ways where responders get a free book, CD or gift the following Sunday. You could give away The United Methodist Church Handbook in a class introducing congregants to United Methodism. Order The United Methodist Church Handbook free of charge or download the PDF.
Include useful links
Add a "From the Web" section to your emails to give your congregation a way to explore more biblical resources on the internet. Obviously, you should provide links to your church website and social media sites, but there's so much more helpful information available. Help readers explore historic UMC locations every United Methodist should see. Connect them to interesting articles related to your current sermon series. Provide fun seasonal links with ideas on family activities or tips on decorating. Help them find great reading lists or free online books they can access. You may even want to include links to local attractions and community information. By offering your own curated city guide, you can help your church members get to know their community better. Remember, when you include information that they can use, your readers will be much more likely to open and read future emails!
Provide sneak previews
People love to be "in the know." Give your flock a head start on Sunday's sermon by including a "teaser," suggesting Bible passages that they can read ahead of time, or attaching a printable fill-in-the-blank handout or outline they can bring with them to the service. You may also want to promote an upcoming sermon series, message or events by including a short promo video. You can even get your your email audience involved in your sermon preparation by asking for related feedback on questions or ideas you are considering. Develop a poll or survey to be added to your email so that you can gather relevant information.
Make it personal
If you really want to make sure that your emails are read, make them personal. People respond better when they see their name; so, use email placeholders to individualize each correspondence. It's like mail merge, but for email. Each email service provider (ESP) has their own name for these personalization fields and their own way of setting them up. Be sure to look for this feature in your ESP's help documentation.
Also, encourage small group leaders and Sunday school teachers to send free e-greetings and virtual cards to their members in order to acknowledge and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other important occasions. If you have your congregants' birthday data in your ESP, then you can automate this process. Make a point to set a reminder once a year to change out the birthday template so people don't get the same email every year.
Remember, email doesn't have to be boring! Learn the best practices and you can become a better email communicator. Start today to make your emails more memorable.