In an era when personal communication is ubiquitous and easy, each missionary has become their own marketing director.
Jen started the email letter with “When I received my teaching schedule for the year, I thought ‘oh, this is very manageable.’” Then she proceeded to describe how the semester went bonkers and she ended up teaching seven courses. God was blessing and she loved her work but it was crazy. It’s that first line that got me reading. I could hear her voice, almost, and then her honesty about the difficulty she faced drew me further in.
When we write our supporters and prayer partners, they want to hear our voice. They want honesty. They want to know we are real people.
The bottom line is that most of what Christians know of missions, or think they know, they learned from missionary letters. If all someone knew of missions was what you write, what would they know? Are you perpetuating the myth that puts missionaries on a pedestal or are you carefully teaching about culture, contextualization, and real life experience with each email you write?
In an era when personal communication is ubiquitous and easy, each missionary has become their own marketing director. Financial and prayer support follow interest and we can generate interest when we write regularly, concisely, and interestingly. Keeping your readers involved requires work.
- Tell good stories that teach what your life is like.
- Write less—more often.
- Sort through the ideas in your mind before you start writing and edit, edit, edit, how much you send.
- Don’t overload on family news. Your prayer partners want to know about and pray for your family, but strike a balance between “all about us/me” and “all about ministry.”
- Write clear, understandable prayer requests. Give enough detail so someone can actually pray today, and tomorrow, and maybe till they hear from you again. Be sure you reader can distinguish who is who in your prayer requests, even if you don’t use real names.
- Use creative formatting to help your reader track through the screen. If you include pictures, size them to 50 kb or less so the email downloads quickly.
- Include contact info and make sure people know where to send money! Never frustrate your reader on contact info.
- Say “Thank you” often, regularly, and with deep sincerity!
Finally, remember that some people still don’t do email but may be invaluable prayer partners. Twenty years ago we used to mail 700 paper letters; now we email 350, including churches that send the email out in bulk. BUT there are 30 people who still get a paper copy and they are top prayer warriors.
Marketing your ministry should be a challenge that you take on with prayer and hard work. If God has put you in missions, it is worth your time an energy to do a good job and gather a following of faithful readers—who also will pray and give and maybe, come and join you or go somewhere else in the world.