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Starting a Newspaper Ministry
by Greg Baker
10/09/2010 / Church Life
MORE THAN A NEWSLETTER
A newspaper is so much more than a newsletter. For our church, our online newsletter is distributed primarily to church members to stay in constant contact with them. Our newspaper, however, is an outreach ministry. Our paper consists of eight 11x14 pages filled with articles about marriage, parenting, self-improvement, and Christian living.
Eight pages is a lot of information! It enables me to introduce our church, the pastor, and our ministries in ways that people will relate to better.
GET THE RIGHT VISION
Before you begin, get the right vision. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Knowing what you are trying to accomplish is important to the development, name choice, and distribution demographics.
For example, if you want a paper that is more newsy about your church for your church, then your articles ought to relate to real church news and people. Write articles about church members and upcoming events. Your distribution, however, will be limited in its effectiveness. People who are not associated with your ministries won't find any way to associate with your articles or news.
For our newspaper, we chose the title 'The Christian Family Quarterly'. Our paper is specifically targeting our community. The articles attempt to reach a broad base of people both churched and unchurched. We divided our paper into four sectionsand in the following order:
2. Family and Parenting
4. Christian living
With the high divorce rate out there, we felt that putting our front page articles about marriage would grab the most attention. Our goal is to help families in a variety of means, get the Gospel to them, introduce them to our church, pastor, and church family, as well as prepare them in advance to our door to door soul winning efforts.
We always include things like word-searches, word puzzles, and things of that nature. We want it to have the feel of a newspaper, but with the content that will draw people into the paper.
The first person we gave a newspaper to was a fellow sitting on a park bench. He looked to be single, and if he had children at all, they were grown. If he was not a Christian or had any real religious inclinations than much of the paper would not appeal to him. I saw him glance at the headlines and then put the paper aside. However, that lasted for about half a minute. He then snatched it up, opened it up, and apparently began to read.
That is the appeal of a well designed and written ministry newspaper!
Your paper name and content is determined on what you are trying to accomplish. Make sure you understand your vision before you make those choices.
THE PAPER AS AN OUTREACH MINISTRY TOOL
What we do is postpone our normal door to door soul winning for a period of two weeks. Instead, we just pass out 10,000 papers throughout our community. We place them in businesses and distribute them throughout neighborhoods. We have been able to see many folk come out to distribute papers that never come out to go door to door.
Each of our papers has some sort of salvation or gospel message in it. And we just put the papers on the front door step. My son came running into our house about an hour after distributing the papers in our neighborhood. He said, "Dad, I saw something exciting! I saw someone come outside and pick up our paper and take it inside!"
The headlines are designed to mean something to the majority of our society. The paper format is not seen as a tract, flyer, or church brochure. People will read it.
After we pass them out, we then follow up through the areas that we distributed them to. Many of the families have read the paper, been helped, or intrigued. When we come knocking, they already have some sort of association with us.
Suggestions for distribution:
1. Doctor's and Dentist's Offices
3. Coffee Shops
4. Waiting Rooms of every sort
5. Retail Stores with Community Bulletin Boards
7. Connivance Stores
8. Gas Stations
10. Apartment Building Offices (especially if they don't allow distribution of papers door to door. They often will allow them in the office)
11. Apartment Complexes Door to Door
12. Neighborhoods Door to Door
THE PAPER AS A DISCIPLESHIP OR MENTORING TOOL
The paper has good quality articles that teach about marriage, child rearing, and self-improvement from a Christian point of view. This is not only beneficial to our own people, but also to the community.
We have people that provide articles, proofread, distribute, and help solicit advertisers for the paper. Our people get excited about it and feel they have something first class with quality content to give to friends, neighbors, and family.
Many of our members vowed to distribute the papers in their neighborhood every issue! This is exciting and highly motivating for our people. Many get introduced to the concept of soul winning through this means. They often come back for the door to door soul winning because they first got their feet wet with the newspapers.
THE PAPER AS A FUNDRAISER
We don't pay a dime for 10,000 eight page newspapers every quarter. In fact, we often make money on the paper that we use to help fund our other outreach programs.
To do this, we sell advertising space in the paper. I pay church members a 10% commission to sign up a business to advertise in our paper. This motivates them to actually do this so I don't have to.
Our eight page paper allows for 24 advertising slots of various sizes (3 per page). The average cost works out to be $100 per advertisement. Thus, we have the potential to bring in $2,400 per issue (minus commission fees). If our cost is around $700 for 10,000 papers, we net $1,700 per issue or $6,800 a year (minus the 10% commission fees). That is a fantastic fundraiser!
Here are some of the benefits of using the paper as a fundraiser:
1. Your church does not actually pay to get the Gospel out. The papers are paid for by the advertisers.
2. You make money on each issue to pay for other outreach programs.
3. You can solicit advertisers by explaining that by purchasing an AD in your paper they are contributing to the community by helping you to reach the community.
4. You build more solid relationships with businesses and business owners by partnering with them.
5. You get something, money, and the business gets something, advertising. It is a win-win situation!
6. Ads give your paper a more newspaper feel and look. People expect Ads in newspapers.
7. It increases your paper's credibility and circulation potential.
ADVERTISING SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR PAPER
We suggest, for an outreach ministry, that you purchase 10,000 papers if your community can support that many. Here is a list of our advertising options we give to businesses (this is for black and white ads--color is $25.00 more).
- $75.00 - Small (2x2) Square*
- $100.00 - Medium (3.5 x 2) Business Card Size*
- $150.00 - Large (3.5 x 3.5) Square*
- $25.00 - Sponsor an article (Two lines of text immediately under the title or author name). This is great for name recognition or individuals who want to support our ministries but do not own a business to promote of their own.
- $250.00 - Local Business Highlight article (400-500 word article promoting your business!)*
* = Add $50.00 to each AD space for front page exposure.
We always point out that the Medium Ad Space averages out to about .01 cent per family!
Benefits to Advertisers:
1. Low cost advertising to 10,000 potential customers.
2. Name recognition to thousands of people.
3. Support and investment in community outreach programs (your programs here).
4. Stronger community image. Lets people know that they are taking an interest in the community.
5. Association with helpful, meaningful, and rich content.
6. No distribution! Your church will do all distribution.
7. Discounts for yearly contracts to advertise in all 4 issues.
PRINTING AND DESIGN
We recommend http://www.makemynewspaper.com to print your paper. For around 7 cents apiece (that includes shipping), you can get 10,000 copies of an eight page 11x14 newspaper. The owners specialize in short run papers and will work with you to help you get your first paper off the ground.
They offer several services for design, including free templates and instructions for designing your own paper in the office.
If you want, you can check out our design at: www.glbcgreeley.com/quarterly.html
TESTIMONIALS FROM OUR FIRST ISSUE
* The first person that I, as the pastor, actually handed a paper to was a fellow working as a bank teller in the drive up window at a bank. He wasn't too busy so I asked him if he wanted some reading material. He said, 'yes', so I sent him a paper through the delivery tube. A month later I was going through the drive through again and he asked, "Are you the guy who gave me that paper?" I indicated that I was. "Do you have any more? I really liked it and I want to give a couple to friends of mine!" I gave him two morethrough the delivery tube againand invited him to church. He was excited about that and indicated that he would visit.
* We had visitors to our Church for three Sundays in a row because of people just getting the paper on their door step.
* We have received a dozen or so phone calls of people asking about the Church, asking if they can get future issues, asking after ministries that we have promoted in the paper, and requesting future issues to contain certain content they feel would be beneficial to them.
* One woman called and said, "I just got one of your newspapers and there is a picture of a woman on the front cover that looks like my cousin that I haven't seen in 5 years." Turned out she was right. We helped reunite them.
* Another woman, struggling in her marriage, called to say that she liked the paper and that she dropped it off at her husband's housetheir separatedfor him to read.
* A man called up and asked, "I got your paper. Did someone tell you that our marriage is struggling?" I assured him we did not that we were just giving them out anywhere and everywhere. "Well, I really liked these articles. How can I get future issues?"
These are just a few of the wonderful results that we have hadjust from our very first issue. We anticipate that if we continue, the paper will become a staple in our area with a strong name recognition.
More at: http://articles.christianbaptists.com
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