Writing Meaningful Missionary Newsletters
As a missionary called to the nations of the world, you are not only passionate about your calling but you are absolutely sure of God’s provision to bring you to your harvest fields—and continue to provide for you while you are there. You are excited about being called to a unique and fulfilling work; and whether you are just starting out as a missionary to the nations, or you have been working in the fields for some time, you are hopeful that those who know you best will be eager to help you every step of the way; in finances, prayer and logistical support. And then reality sets in. You find that not only is it difficult and time-consuming to regularly share your vision and all you are doing with each and every one of your supporters (or potential supporters) via phone calls, online chats, individual emails and hand-written letters—you’ve lost track of who you’ve sent information to, and you’re not even sure who said they were interested and wanted more information. Suddenly, the pressure of updating and informing your supporters becomes overwhelming and more of a stress-induced burden than a joy; perhaps even negatively affecting your missionary work in the field to the point where you have stopped updating on a regular basis—and you let weeks and even months go by without communicating.
Well, you are not alone!
Almost every missionary has experienced this in some form or fashion. There is a better, easier way to go about contacting and keeping your supporters not only up-to-date with your missions work—but actually looking forward to hearing from you and giving to you!
It’s as simple as a monthly, online newsletter that includes the steps outlined below.
Why Send Out Monthly Online Missionary Newsletters?
First, it’s important to understand the three main purposes behind sending out missionary newsletters to your supporters:Communication: Most, if not all the people who support you want to know what you’re experiencing on the field. According to the Camber Collective’s Money for Good report, donors want clearer communication citing that 49% of donors don’t know how nonprofits use their money, 34% feel hassled, and 20% are unsure who benefits from the work they’re funding.
Not just a quick, hello and a paragraph or two summarizing weeks of missions work, but often the in-depth aspects of what God is giving you; what things you are struggling with that they can be praying for; what things you are overcoming in the midst of the struggles; and what God is doing in the people you are serving and ministering to, including testimonies. This is true, authentic communication via a simple missionary newsletter allows your supporters to engage fully with your experience at whatever level they are most interested. This level of communication keeps them connected to you in ways that may cause them to continue their giving level without you even having to ask. This is the first reason to send regular newsletters.
- Prayers: Charles Spurgeon once said, “No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” This was true during Spurgeon’s lifetime and it remains true today. It is true to all Christians and especially to missionaries.
The connection between missions and prayers is inextricable; missionaries should not be serving without spending considerable time in prayers. The Gospels record that Jesus himself before starting His mission on Earth, he spent forty days in fasting and prayers, and later He taught his followers how to pray (Luke 11). In Ephesians 6:17-19 Paul says “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” From the New Testament we see that prayers were a common theme in the life of all the apostles and in their writings. Prayer is a declaration of our total dependency on God and total trust that He is sovereign.
Sending newsletters allows your contacts back home to know how to pray for you and what specific needs you need them to keep in mind while praying. Most of the New Testament epistles are in concept “missionary newsletters” from Paul to the churches that supported him, and in those “newsletters” he not only taught God’s word but also asked his “supporters” to pray for specific needs he had. Sending newsletters is not a new practice, rather it’s a New Testament example.
- Fundraising: While this is just one of the purposes behind sending out monthly newsletters, it’s easy to start thinking that this is the main purpose…when it is not. There is no faster way to lose supporters (and turn off any potential supporters) than by asking for funds in every newsletter. While communication is paramount at the level noted above, fundraising, though necessary, should not be the central point of every newsletter.
Therefore, it is important to keep the “ASK” until you truly needed and always be sure to ask at the right time and in the right manner. This is especially true when considering that more than 20% of the missionary’s donations in a given year come in the month of December. Therefore, it is vital that you always make it easy for your donors to have a quick and easy way to give.
A subtle way to allow those who read your updates to donate if they are led to (after reading a thorough update), is to place a simple ‘GIVE’ or ‘DONATE’ button at the bottom of your newsletter. Ongoing donations and fundraising is an important part of every missionary’s life, and to know how to present the opportunity to give, in a way that invites your supporters to give—instead of pushing or pressuring them to give—is a very important aspect of your regular newsletter. Remember that even that missionaries need financial support, we should totally trust in God for provision. Ultimately, all that we receive is from Him.
Before you start your fundraising, please consider How to Keep Missionary Fundraising Effective and Biblical.
Keep in mind, there are three main groups of people who support you as a missionary; all of which need to be informed monthly via some form of a missionary newsletter, of what you’re doing in the field:
- Financial Donors: Those who give financially towards your mission (either one-time, monthly, periodically or annually). It is RARE to see people who support you financially without supporting you in prayers. In our experience, those that invest in your mission financially, they will also invest in prayers.
- Prayer Partners: Those with a passion and a burden to pray for you as you work in your mission field. They especially like hearing the details of any struggles you are experiencing, how they can pray for you specifically, and how God is helping you overcome these struggles through regular prayer requests and praise reports.
- Logistical Supporters: This refers to your church or other missionary organization (or home office); the people behind the scenes who make your life on the field easier by processing your donor donations, answering donor question, sending out donor tax reports—while giving you access to each donor’s historical giving, charts of your monthly income, any notes you have received from your donors—at the touch of a button! Whether you are a church-sent missionary in a team or a solo-missionary on the field, having an experienced missionary organization is a must-have for ongoing logistical support. This group also needs to be kept up-to-date with your monthly updates.
Writing a meaningful missionary newsletter is not an optional task in the life of missionaries, it is a requirement for the spiritual and financial sustainability of their ministry. Missionaries need to learn how to communicate their hearts, successes, failures, and challenges with their base back home. Your partners (both financial, prayer, and logistics) have invested in sending you to the field, and it is your job to help to bring the field back to them!
For more information on how to write a missionary newsletter, please read our article: Top Tips for Writing Missionary Newsletter.