12 Tips for Church Letter Writing
by Norman Lawrence
It is vitally important that church leaders develop a consistent, systematic approach to writing letters to church members and adherents. To keep any relationship alive takes a willingness to communicate your message, then be available for response to that message. Writing a Church Letter goes a long way in expressing to others that they indeed are important to you, as well as the ministry of the church. It also conveys the all-important message that you care, and are thinking about their personal situation.
The Church Letters at www.churchletters.net are meant to be an aide in your ministry to your church family as you express this care. The idea is "not" to copy and paste verbatim, but it is important that as you copy and paste think of a few ways to modify the letters to reflect your personal style. Certainly, many of the letters are "good to go", however, you are encouraged to think of ways to modify them for your own unique situation.
Below are some thoughts around the two words "Church Letters" that you may find helpful as you modify these Church Letters, or start from "scratch".
C - Be Clear
When your letter is read, you don't want it to be similar to some bad commercials on television that may have looked and sounded good, but upon completion of viewing (or reading), the person looks back and wonders "what that was all about". If you are writing a letter to thank a person for visiting your church, be sure to do exactly that... then go on to tell them about the ministries that are available to them.
H - Be Hopeful
One of the reasons for writing the letter is to encourage them and to provide inspiration and hope for tomorrow. They will appreciate your positive approach to the situation, and you can certainly do this without being "fake". Doesn't the Word of God provide hope for each and every situation? Philip. 4:13 - "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." People need to be reminded of the fact that God is in control regardless of our ability to understand ALL His ways.
U - Be Understanding
We often fail to put ourselves into the "shoes of another" and thereby do not understand the situation they are going through. The most difficult time is when we have not gone through the situation in our own lives. We will find this to be the case very often in our ministry to others, however it is in those situations we must ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to provide the right level of understanding and compassion to properly minister to them.
R - Be Responsive
If you close your letter encouraging the person to get in touch with you if they are in need of anything, be sure to provide them with a way to get in touch *and* then be available. While this may be difficult for leaders of larger congregations, you will find that most people will be sensitive to your unique situation. You may also provide other avenues of ministry that will help them. After all, even WE don't have all the answers, but God has placed many gifts in the church that are available to be used. Provide phone numbers, (yes, even cell phone numbers), and e-mail addresses so that people can get in touch with you or someone designated for that particular ministry.
C - Be Consistent
People have an amazing ability to catch on to "favoritism", and will certainly notice if certain people receive letters or encouraging e-mails and others do not. As Church leaders, it is our calling to reflect the attitude of Christ in dealing with people, and that includes going out our way to minister to the one who may be "down and out", as well as the one who seemingly has it "all" together.
H - Be Helpful
Perhaps you know of community agencies or church ministries that are available to the person or family you are writing to. If you have a "Young Marrieds" small group and you are writing to a young couple about a particular issue, then you may want to provide the contact information for the leader of that small group. Again, be sensitive to what their needs are and begin to think of ways you can provide help to them.
L - Be "Letter-Ready"
Have a good supply of letters available to send at a moments notice. Most letters can be used again with some modification, and while we would like to think we can sit down at every situation and write a "brand new" letter because we believe it will be more personal, the fact is, most church leaders don't do this. There is the "ideal" (crafting a new letter from scratch every time), then there is "reality" (modifying letters we have already used, or available through services like www.churchletters.net). As an example, one Sunday we were having a service of recognition for graduates and realized in our rush to prepare other things had forgotten to prepare letters of congratulations. Not to panic. We went to Ministry Letters and modified one of the letters there, and printed out 6 letters, personalized and ready for delivery during the service all within the time span of about 10 minutes. This was being "Letter-Ready".
E - Be Evangelistic
In communicating to people, always be looking for ways to provide the message of the Gospel of Christ in a relevant and meaningful way. Jesus often told stories to illustrate a truth, so do not hesitate to tell a story to illustrate the greatness of God's love available to them. Perhaps you will want to include a tract that deals specifically with the situation they are involved in at the moment. Allow the Holy Spirit to direct you to open doors, then be sure and step through when those doors swing wide.
T - Be Tactful
While it is important to know the need, it is even more important to respond to the need in a way the person will feel you are being truthful and sympathetic with concern for their feelings. Even in the case of discipline (when a face to face meeting may be more appropriate), the person will sense that you are loving them. Love and a desire to restore and provide hope should be at the basis of all we do, and when it is tactfulness will be developed as a result of that love. Proverbs 25:11 "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."
T - Be Timely
This is similar to a previous point on being "Letter-Ready". Being timely is knowing when to send a letter or e-mail and then sending it off with a prayer for God's anointing and blessing to be upon the reader as they open it. If you say you are going to send the person a note, or follow up with a phone call, or show up at a certain time, then be a keeper of your word. James 5:12 - "Above all, my brothers, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned."
E - Be Energetic
If you are conveying an important message, whether in spoken or written form, it is important to be as energetic about it as possible without being "fake". How does this happen? Asking God to communicate the importance of the opportunity to you, then sharing in a way that will make the person feel like you are not just "doing your job". Eccles. 9:10a - "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..." If what you are doing with your hand is typing or writing, or even make a great point in a sermon, be energetic in your approach.
R - Be Right
People do not want to be viewed as "people", they want to be seen and known as "individuals" and certainly do not want to feel like a number when they are part of a church body. This is a great challenge for every leader, and that is to communicate on a personal level with those in your congregation. A most unpleasant scenario would be to write a letter to "John" when the man's name is actually "Steve", or most likely you have received letters such as: Dear (First Name). While most churches now utilize Mail Merge operations today and most people know it, there is still something about receiving a letter like this that makes it highly offensive especially within the church body.
S - Be Scriptural
In writing Church Letters it is always of great benefit to share a particular passage of scripture that may be applicable to their situation at the time. In a very difficult circumstance, you can share that "God works all things together for good...", or "weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning". Simply be aware of the situation, and mindful of any scriptures that will provide hope or healing, and encouragement.
The above may be used in print or on the web as long as the information below is provided with the article:
Copyright - 2006 - Used by permission:
12 Tips for Church Letter Writing by:
Norman Lawrence of http://www.churchletters.net
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