Year End Letter

It’s not too late to email a year end letter.  What is a year end letter?  A year end letter is often a letter that summarizes the year and shares what is ahead for the next year with an ask for donations. I have found these letters to be difficult to write because how do you summarize the past and how do you ask?  Do you make a list of accomplishments with numbers and graphs? Do I make a wish list? Do you make a goals list for next year?  Let’s just be honest, many churches do not always have very well-defined goals.  What do you do?  Here are some tips for writing a year end letter.

1. THE GOAL OF WRITING IS ENGAGEMENT – NOT MONEY
One of the reasons I don’t like writing a year end letter is the fear of sounding like a beggar or a salesman.  I think both are insults to God, and we are neither. We are proclaimers and teachers of the Gospel.  People need to know and be reminded of the important Kingdom work given to us and how to be stewards of it.  Engage and challenge them in their walk.

2. START WITH THANKSGIVING
One pastor shared with me that his congregation has been incredibly generous through the pandemic and they are up 20%.  Does he need to write a year end letter?  Yes!  He needs to praise the Lord with the people and give thanks. A simple leadership principle to remember is: What gets celebrated gets done.  Celebrate the good in your newsletter.

3. SHARE TESTIMONIES
Your best letter is one that your people help you write. I save positive comments from the year in a file.  At the end of the year I look for comments that illustrate what God is doing among us.  I share these stories with other ministry highlights. These stories tell more than numbers or graphs on a page.  The letter is not about your church gained 10 or even 100 members.  It is about how God has changed lives through the Word and Sacrament.

4. DON’T FORGET TO ASK
I know many pastors struggle with asking for money. Giving is part of discipleship and we should not be afraid to ask.  One way that helps with the ask, is to ask with other leaders. I now write the letter and have the president and head elder edit and sign it with me.  When you ask, be clear what the need is, and align it with your vision and mission. Lastly, provide an easy way to give. If you mail your letter, then include a giving envelope that is addressed to the church with a stamp.  If you email it, then be sure to include your link for giving in the letter.

by: Rev. Jason Scheler, Mission Executive of the LCMS Southern District

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