Recently a few of us here at TheoMag have been talking about receiving religious ministry support letters from peers. Writing a support letter is something nearly everyone does at some point in their lives, so the study of figuring out how to write said letter is a study of human experience. Support letters written to obtain a support base for ministry operations are even more interesting because of their necessary appeal on a “spiritual level”. Our discussion led me to some conclusions:
First, the vast majority of support letters I have received have lacked in their power to convince me of supporting the author on whatever divine quest the Lord has sent him/her on (the Holy Grail?). This is not necessarily because I am a scrooge, but has more to do with what the letter is appealing to, in many cases a non-existant relationship. For fantastic insights on abusing your network, check out Friendship Embezzlement by Dustin Risner. Second, most of the ministry support letters I have experienced are all alike, almost as if they have been copied from the same source (Q document? Biblical Joke!). With this second conclusion in mind, I have written a tool to help others in writing a ministry support letter. This tool is based solely on my personal experience from both reading and even writing my own support letters. Please enjoy.
I start with a salutation that sounds as if it is from an early church father or something I ripped off a present-day “apostle”, and tie it together with a vague familial reference which reminds you that we are family in the same religious faith. This gets you thinking about religious experiences, and hopefully hits a heart string.
“Greetings Brother! How are you my old friend! It’s been too long.”
Next I launch into a “cool” story introducing what unique experiences I have gotten myself involved in. This story catches you up to speed since we haven’t talked in a while, but I will pretend it was just yesterday. There is also a good chance that you don’t remember me at all, so hopefully my informal manner and the story about myself, along with the fact that I am clearly assuming we know each other, convinces you that we do and that you have simply forgotten our meaningful relationship. This story is important because you need to know how unique my circumstances are, and how the WORLD will profit from this work, so pay close attention!
Now that I have hooked you with an emotionally compelling story and my candid manner which convinces you that we are best-ies, I need to share some sad news with you. I intentionally insert an awkward statement conveying the idea that I don’t know how to communicate whats coming next. But I do, I know exactly what I am doing. Convinced you are on the edge of your seat, I explain that the amazing story from the second paragraph was a one-time activity. But, I quickly add, we are planning on doing more of these activities. A consoling comment to make you feel at ease. I then tell you about how we are going to do more of these activities. We have a plan, every piece in place, and all we need is… prayer? Yes, we need you to pray for a list of things, including money. Mostly we need prayer for money, but we also need money. I can’t ask you for money, but I can ask you, my good good friend, to pray that money would magically materialize into our bank accounts. Why would God hear your prayer? Because He is the author of what we are doing, and therefore He will make it happen.
Some more specifics about our prayer requests, especially about our most dire need: money. Exactly how much we need and when we need it. Another appeal for your prayers.
Strategically selected scripture verse encouraging faith, and reminding you that this is a spiritual appeal.
Complementary close with a spiritual feel and a scriptural reference,
My full name
My nickname in parenthesis underneath
Post Script with a personal appeal that you would pray and ask God how you can help.