Don’t Use the Pony Express to Mail Your Prayer Letter

pony express postage stampCommunication has changed drastically. The thought of a horse and rider delivering my personal messages seems like a thing of the ancient past, but in reality, it was only 150 years ago that people in the Wild West were using the Pony Express. I have to admit, the Pony Express sounds romantic, but I’m very glad to have Google Chat instead (one second vs. ten days). This is a perfect example, albeit an extreme one, of just how dramatically things have shifted in a relatively short amount of time. The whirlwind of technological changes has left people, especially those in ministry, scrambling to keep up.

One of my main goals at WIM is to educate our missionaries on how to effectively engage their network of supporters. With all the current options such as social media, email, Skype, etc., everyone seems to be asking the same burning question: “Is traditional mail dead?” Some people (trying to sound edgy, I think), talk about snail mail as if it were as obsolete as the Pony Express. I have some news for you, people: snail mail is alive and well!  People are over-stimulated with the hundreds of texts, status updates, chat messages and emails that bombard them everyday. If you are prepared to compete with that, be my guest, but you’d better make your e-communications exceptional if you want people to see them, let alone read them. Because of this, I believe that there is still a strategic place for the tangible, paper newsletter (check out this eye-opening article). While you’re at it, you might as well make it exceptional, too.

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you not to abandon snail mail altogether, let me say that the true sweet spot might be found in combining the best of both worlds. As this article suggests, you don’t want to write prayer letters as if technology didn’t exist. Then you would just seem, well, ignorant. In the future I plan to write a post with creative ideas for multi-channel communication.

While we are grateful for technology, it’s not without challenges for missionaries. It can be overwhelming. How do you keep it all balanced and stay connected with everyone? Please comment.

Father, sometimes missionaries feel overwhelmed by all the options they have for how to spend time, keep in touch with people, and minister well in their fields of service. They desperately need your Holy Spirit to guide them moment-by-moment and show them how to strategically and creatively use the tools you’ve given them to stay connected.

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