Let’s say a staff person in the church office has been tasked with producing your church’s version of your directory. Five minutes ago, she popped her head into the office and said, “Pastor, don’t forget that we need a welcome note from you for the directory … like yesterday, please!”
Fine. You’ve got this. So, you can think, make notes, do some online research, and consult some colleagues. Maybe in two or three days, you can give the admin person what she needs.
Or, you can read on for some easy tips to make the writing easy and painless.
First Tip: The Photo
You have to have a photo. Doesn’t make sense to have a photo directory and not include the pastor’s face!
But what photo? A head and shoulders shot in which your garb is business-like is okay if you want to suggest a serious aura of holy professionalism. But the directory is about people: students, moms and dads, kids, singles, widows and widowers. And they all have different interests and backgrounds.
So, you might consider lightening up a bit. Include your spouse if possible, and/or a family pet. Or, just you and the dog. Or, fiddle with the photo — like you’re peering at the reader from the bottom or side of the photo with half your head cut off.
The point is: the photo you choose will say a lot about you — your personality and accessibility. And speaking of accessibility, be sure to include your contact information.
Second Tip: Say “Hello”
Now we’re at the salutation. You could say, “Dear Church Family …” This is pretty good. It is inclusive of everyone (unlike “Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ …” What about mothers and fathers in Christ, or singles in Christ, never married in Christ? You see the difficulty). “Dear Church Family,” says it all, and at the same time suggests that we’re related to one another. The “family” is not just a church family — it’s the family of God.
Third Tip: Think About the Purpose of the Letter
You don’t need to convey in your note that the only reason you’re writing this is because so-and-so in the office nagged you to do it. So why are you writing this welcome note? Perhaps you’re hoping:
- To exude a sense of hopeful optimism?
- To express appreciation for the gifts (talents, skills) everyone brings to the table?
- To thank people for their faithfulness in the past year? To help the congregation interact with each other more efficiently and more often?
- To encourage the congregation after a difficult period in its history?
Whatever you decide, make sure the tone stays welcoming and upbeat.
Fourth Tip: The Bible Verse!
Don’t forget to quote the Good Book! Before launching into the body of the letter, cite a Bible verse that relates to the “family of God” theme — or wait until the end of your letter and use the verse as a closing thought. Here are a couple to consider:
Final Tip: Pray the Directory
Suggest that the congregation do what you do: use the church directory as a prayer tool. The Bible says that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). A very simple approach to strengthening the prayer life is to use your church directory as a prayer tool. Using the directory one can easily develop a praying strategy for everyone in the congregation on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The pastor need not hesitate to assure the congregation that you pray for them every week. People might even appreciate knowing when he or she is praying for them.
God bless you as you write this important family note for your church directory. It will help the church family feel as though they are known and loved by all, including the pastor.