Written by Mary Davis from the Skyline Church grandparenting ministry
Good news needs to be shared. Where would humanity be if the women at the tomb had remained silent?
Although 2,000 years have passed, the mission remains the same: Share Jesus’ story of love, resurrection, and eternal salvation with others to develop new disciples in Christ.
While evangelism can take many forms, passing along God’s gifts of grace to our grandchildren should be our first priority of outreach. Much like concentric circles that flow outward when a pebble is thrown into a pond, sharing is often easiest and most natural when we start with those in our immediate circle.
Pastor Jeremy McGarity of Skyline Church in La Mesa, CA (San Diego area) calls this model of evangelism the ‘oikos’ method, the Greek word for a family, household, and closest circle of friends (not the yogurt 😊.) It refers to those 8-15 people that God has placed supernaturally in your life and with whom you hold the greatest relational influence.
Just as we strive to share the Gospel with others, for ministries to thrive they need marketing and outreach as well. Whether you have a new grandparenting ministry, an established one, or development plans in the works, communication is key.
Spreading the word is a critical element to growing your ministry, and a newsletter is one great way to do that.
Much like the old ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ joke (hint: just a bite at a time!), developing a newsletter and communication outreach program can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but gets much easier once you break it down into more manageable steps.
Here are some key considerations, as well as tips and tricks, to get you started: I like to use the ‘snowman’ method: 1) Build the newsletter content as the base; 2) Move ‘up’ to the formatting/editing step; 3) Top it off with the final-approval process; and 4) Dress it for dissemination and share it with the world!
Content creation will likely take the longest, so start early. Outlining both your content, as well as an editorial schedule, will help keep you on track.
Keep it simple at first – four pages should do. For example, you can include a cover/intro page, a useful article or printable, an ‘upcoming events’ page, and a closing page with a strong call-to-action of next steps your reader should take.
Other filler ideas include: a ministry team-member highlight; a seasonal article; a synopsis write-up from one of Legacy Coalition’s Summit sessions, or upcoming episodes of Grand Monday Nights.
We also chose to feature the mission of our ministry on the front page, to immediately let people know what it is we do: Equipping & encouraging grandparents to eagerly embrace God’s Biblically-assigned mandate to teach, model, and bestow the legacy gift of faith in Jesus Christ.
Remember – your key goal is to concisely communicate and inform. Don’t worry about writing War and Peace (in today’s world of short attention spans, no one would read it anyway!) Instead, focus on short ‘nuggets of knowledge’ and useful tips. What would you want to know if you were exploring a new ministry?
Once you have your content, you’re ready to start formatting. I like to design in Canva.com, an online, graphics-based, content-creation platform that features tons of templates to get you started. They have a free version which is pretty robust in itself, and then a ‘pro’ version you can upgrade to (currently about $10 a month but gives you far more graphics, photos, and fonts, as well as the ability to resize projects and remove backgrounds in photos.) PowerPoint is another option that many people are already comfortable using.
Build time into your process for this critical step, as it is key to reputational branding for your ministry. Even if you are gifted at both writing and editing, having an extra set of eyes or two to catch typos, incorrect dates, etc. can save you bouts of ‘red-faced regret’ later on down the road.
Make sure to build lead time into your process. The more people involved, the more time you’ll need. For a March 1st distribution, I aim to have my final draft completed by February 15th, which allows for a two-week final-approval process.
Next, share your masterpiece with the world! Decide ahead of time what distribution method you’ll use. Digital newsletters let you embed links that send your readers directly to the resource you’re referring them to. And e-Newsletters are also readily shareable on social media, which can markedly amplify your reach.
Note: You may want to also print out hard copies for people who prefer a tangible format; set out copies in the lobby before or after services.
Setting an Editorial Schedule
You need to stay in touch often enough to help people get to know your ministry and its mission, but also find a balance for a workload that does not burnout or overwhelm volunteers.
As we’ve embarked on our first year of a newsletter program, our team decided that a quarterly newsletter worked best for us – frequent enough to keep information flowing, but also giving a manageable workload and lead time for everyone involved in the process.
We chose a ‘clock-based’ workflow: months three, six, nine, and twelve, which also coordinate nicely with both the Christian calendar – Easter & Christmas in particular – as well as aligning with the seasonal rhythm of life.
Marketing your Intentional Grandparenting message and growing your ministry requires strategic outreach and communication, and a newsletter is one great way to do that.
A little upfront work in preparation and sowing can produce a tremendous harvest when it comes to planting seeds of information and developing more intentional grandparents in your ministry. Happy writing!
Mary Davis is a member of Skyline Church and writes the newsletter for their Grandparenting Matters Ministry. After completing the six-week grandparenting course from Legacy Coalition, she felt compelled to help spread the word on the importance of ‘Grandparenting with Intention’ via the creation of a quarterly newsletter. You can reach her at email@example.com.