Growing Discipleship Through Emails

As church leaders, we often think of the church front door as the starting place where ministry begins. Once people visit, then we can start to serve them. 

But what if we extend the “front door” way out beyond a physical door that exists? What if we could start providing ministry and discipleship opportunities before someone ever steps foot into our church facility?

The good news is: With effective email strategies for churches, we don’t have to wait until people walk through our doors to serve them. (Some people never will on their own.) Instead, if we start using emails for discipleship, we can serve people right where they are. 

When done correctly, you can even experience substantial increases in church engagement and church growth through emails your church sends out regularly. 

That’s why, today on the podcast, we’re talking about using emails for discipleship, for connection, and for following up with people in a way that’s meaningful and spiritual.

Two Major Benefits of Growing Discipleship Through Emails

Chances are your church probably already has several outreach strategies to reach people in your community. 

Perhaps you mail fliers, maintain a website, or regularly post on a Facebook or Instagram account. Maybe you ask your church members to invite their friends as you preach through an Easter or Christmas sermon series

You may even have a church email list – but are you using it to its fullest potential? Have you ever considered discipling through email?

Churches who provide discipleship through emails, and especially those who have researched and started implementing effective email strategies for churches, have two major advantages.

1. You Own Your Email List

While social media can be an effective method of church growth, it comes with quite a few risks. 

With social media, you don’t own your platform. Any social media site could shut down, ban you, block you, or limit your reach or engagement at any time for any reason. 

In fact, if you regularly run Facebook ads, you may have noticed that Facebook has already taken away several tools and targeting options for anyone who runs ads in certain categories (including religion). 

When you focus instead on discipleship through emails, however, you own your email list. No one can take it away from you (even if you switch platforms). 

2. Using Emails for Discipleship is More Effective

In addition to offering greater control and stability, email is also a far more effective method of outreach and discipleship. 

With social media, you’re broadcasting your message to a wide group of people who may or may not care about what you have to offer. 

When you focus on effective email strategies for churches, however, you’re able to reach a select group of people who have already expressed interest in your church or the topics you talk about. 

Your emails are more likely to reach peoples’ inboxes because they aren’t dependent on the social media algorithms. Plus, email offers you the ability to build a relationship with your community that doesn’t require you to pay each time you want to reach them. 

How to Create an Effective Email Strategy for Churches

So, how do you create effective email strategies for churches? Don’t simply collect emails and blast everyone with the same messages. Instead, you want to be intentional. 

The first step to growing your church through emails is typically offering some type of freebie on your website or social media page that people can download in exchange for their email address. 

This freebie (often called an email opt-in or lead magnet) should be something simple that meets a need. For example, you might offer a free PDF download, a short video series, or a downloadable checklist that people would find useful. 

You can also collect emails from new (and existing) church members on new visitor registration cards, bulletin inserts, or at various events or small group meetings. You could even put a QR code on your church screen and ask people to scan it before or after the service.

Once you have people’s emails, you can send out an introductory welcome email explaining more about your church, the services you offer, and anything else people need to know. From there, the sky’s the limit! 

You could use email to survey your church members about current events, to find volunteers, or to share information about upcoming groups or special events. You can share stories about your church or ask your church members to pray for any special needs or concerns they may not otherwise know about. 

You could even use your email list to share additional resources, articles, or thoughts you didn’t have time to share during your weekly Sunday sermon.

When considering how to pursue discipleship through emails, consider what your email list members would find most interesting or useful. Then send that.

Want Effective Discipling through Email? Use Segmentation.

Whether or not you’ve already started learning about and implementing effective email strategies for churches, you may already have a great deal of useful information about your church members. 

For example, your church might collect information such as: 

  • Names
  • Ages
  • Family relationships
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Church attendance
  • Small group attendance
  • Event attendance
  • Financial giving
  • Volunteer roles and hours
  • And more. 

Rather than simply blasting your entire church with emails about every new event, use this information strategically to make discipleship through emails easier and more effective. 

Most email providers will allow you to send specific emails to a certain segment or group of your entire list – only the people who would find the information relevant or useful – without emailing everyone.

For example, you might send an email only to married couples, parents, people who have attended at least once in the last three months, or to members of a certain small group. You might send separate emails to current church members looking for additional resources and community members who haven’t yet visited your church. 

Of course, the point isn’t to discriminate against one group or the other – only to serve the people on your email list with messages that are most relevant and helpful for them (without all the noise from the messages that aren’t). 

When you exclude people from some emails, it makes the emails they DO receive more effective. 

Want Church Growth through Emails? Use Automation.

Similarly, the vast majority of email service providers allow you to set up automated sequences so every new person that signs up for your list receives a series or sequence of emails you’ve pre-written in advance. 

With automation, you can take people on a journey. This might be a welcome sequence that all new email subscribers receive upon sign-up, you might pre-write emails to go out during your busiest time of the year, or you might write a specific sequence to sell a product or invite people to an event. 

If you only send one email about an event or a topic, you will have some interest. However, when you use pre-written automations for growing your church through emails, you can tell a story and create greater interest and buy-in. 

Remember: Automation trumps determination. 

We all get busy, and we all frequently don’t accomplish everything that’s on our to-do lists. By automating your most important emails, you’re ensuring that your church’s message goes out consistently (both to your members and non-members) without you having to take the time each week to rewrite the same message. 
Ready to get started learning and implementing effective email strategies for churches? Be sure to visit for resources to make growing your church through emails far easier and more effective.