Every year a number of our family and friends send a Christmas card with a family summary. I really love getting those, especially from folks I don’t have much contact with during the year. The kids are always amazingly taller, our friends’ hair is thinner or grayer, and it’s fun to see who traveled to where. Sometimes there’s more somber news of lost family members, tragedies or disappointments. Not as fun to read, but part of a real family’s authentic life.
Most of us in church planting understand the value of telling the stories of our new churches to the churches and individuals that make our planting possible. These vital partners in ministry have prayed for us, sent generous contributions, in some cases they’ve traveled to our new church and worked our nursery or helped with our outreaches. They’re vital to our ability to do what we’ve been called to do.
So at the end of the year, and at the end of every month, keep in mind the value of communicating with your support team. There are some practical considerations that might help.
- Keep it concise. Regularly communicating a short story, with efficient words is more effective than long, drawn-out narratives full of catharsis! People care about you, but they’re busy. You may need to write it all out, but don’t send it all out.
- Remind your partners of the mission as you share the story. You’re not planting a church just to have something to do! The story you share should highlight the transformed lives that have encountered Jesus and his body, the Church.
- Include a picture if possible. Technology makes it lots easier to include a really good picture with an email or print piece. Make it a tight shot that has some inspirational potential. A baptism, kids laughing, hugs of happiness or sorrow, families together—this is the stuff that gets us out of bed in the morning and causes generosity to grow in our hearts.
- Always communicate gratitude. The purest motivation for your prayer partners, donors, and scaffolding workers is to make Jesus smile—but they also appreciate knowing they are helping you in ways that you acknowledge.
- Keep the needs of your new church or ministry in front of the whole team. Not every communication is an appropriate place for a call to action (ask), but if there are needs, ask your team to pray and keep them informed. If they don’t know, they can’t pray well or respond to God’s lead to help. If you overdo it, they’ll stop reading your notes, but if you don’t carefully keep the need in their scope of awareness, you’re leaving resources on the table that will help you accomplish your mission.
So Merry Christmas! We appreciate your partnership in the Gospel and we want you to share our joy. Guess what we’ve been up to this year…