Since the days of Paul and Barnabas, the church has been receiving reports of God’s work on the mission field—we can say that is 2,000 years of newsletters! I have only been writing them for about 25 years, but I can give testimony that even in our day of modern technology, it is the humble newsletter that makes the greatest impact in keeping the church connected with the global worker and the task to which they are called. Writing a good newsletter is crucial to help the church (and here I am referring to both your local church and individual supporters/churches at large) feel engaged and a part of what God is accomplishing through you as ‘their’ global worker. Remembering this fact—that you are not just called by God but ‘sent’ by a group of believers—will help you to keep your newsletters focused, for the church is your target audience in writing.
If your goal is understood, the writing will come easier. So what do you want to accomplish through this letter? Think of the following points and their results:
- Let the church know God is at work where you are—so that they will rejoice and praise Him.
- Share how you have been part of what God has done—so they will rejoice to see that God is really using you and praise Him for it.
- 3. Share the challenges/struggles in accomplishing the tasks God has given you—so they will be in prayer for you and/or your target people.
- Share how God is at work in your personal life—so that they will pray for you and your family’s needs.
I think that it is clear to see that your newsletter’s main goal is to move the church to pray more fervently for you, your task, your people group, and your family. Once they pray, they will be more engaged and ready to give, help out in a tangible way, and warmly receive you and minister to you when you return to their loving arms.
How can we do all of this in one letter? For me personally, it has not been easy. My letters used to be two to four pages of long paragraphs! That worked well for the older ladies in my church, but as years went by and my readership changed, I had to change as well. I think now about how people read newspapers and magazines. We look at the headlines and prefer to read shorter articles. Though it is hard, I try to find one or two good stories to share that have happened since my last letter. By the end of the story, I may highlight the word pray to show them there is something for the readers to do as a result of this event. I can also list prayer requests at the end of the letter. Either way works.
I also use part of each letter to share personal items. For us it was called The Family Corner, and I would put a short paragraph for each of us. With the boys, it was about school or a pet or something. For my husband, it was about his latest carpentry project or exercise. For me, it was about writing or finding a local Curves franchise in Cairo. They were personal notes, and they allowed the church to see us as ‘real’ people.
It is important to read over your last letter before beginning a new one. If you asked for prayer in April, share the answer in July. The church needs to know that their prayers matter. Also, if you can include one or two pictures, that is very helpful. Giving visual insight into your country of service opens the world up to your church. If you have just recently moved to a new place of service, use your first letter to just describe the area. Remember the senses—help your church to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the area around you.
As the report from Paul and Barnabas to the church in Antioch moved the church to rejoice at what God was doing, so will your newsletters encourage your church to rejoice and be true partners in the task to which God has called you.