“Keep a journal.”
One of the best pieces of advice I received years ago was to keep a journal in between prayer letters so that I can record ideas, stories, and themes for our prayer letters. Then you have a place to go when the time comes to write. These days I keep a document called “Prayer Letter Ideas.”
Keep your letter in short “bites,” like a magazine layout. Add a couple of photos. Make sure to leave white space, pick a theme for your letter, and don’t preach. Just some small suggestions. There are a number of good books out on how to write missionary newsletters.
Answer from Carol, who has served with TWR for twenty-two years, including service in Netherlands Antilles, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.
“Keep it to one paragraph on each topic.”
Monthly newsletters are easier to keep short. We try to do ours every six to eight weeks. We arrange it like the current events page in a news magazine and keep it to one paragraph per topic.
Photos, photos, photos! Supporters love to see the children you’re working with, the people who received medical care, or the people who are saved. They also love to see you and your children.
You can use an email service like Constant Contact or MailChimp to deliver an email newsletter. They’re easy to use and some are free. They have pre-made templates you can use. You can put your prayer requests in a sidebar.
Answer from John and Perla who have served in Mexico and Haiti.
Editor’s note: We haven’t read it yet, but William Carey Library has a newly overhauled edition of the book, Writing Exceptional Missionary Newsletters. Looks helpful.
“Think of your readers.”
Make sure you think of your readers. Don’t try to preach, teach, or sell them on anything. Instead, ask: What will be of value to them? How can you help them understand life in another land?
If you are not there yet, how can you share the burden and vision that God has given you in a way that helps them get plugged into it in some way? Tell stories. Share your heart and passion.
And please… don’t ask for money in a general newsletter. If they don’t answer, that is your answer (i.e. NO). Blessings as you labor in the ministry God has called you to do.
Answer from Kelly, who served for more than twenty years with several agencies including Pioneers, spending ten years in Indonesia.