If you’ve ever gone on a mission trip you wrote one of these letters. If you know anyone that went on a mission trip, you received one of these letters. This is the simple piece of paper that asks you to give money to a friend or family member so that they can go on a mission trip. They are a staple of Christian life and I should practically apologize for how long it has taken me to address this subject.
The main problem is that for the last 30 years or so, we’ve all been sending out the same letter. Here is the basic outline:
Two or three sentences of pleasantries, how are you, how are things on your end, boy it sure has been a hot summer/cold winter, do you think the mayor will do something about the geese problem, etc.
2. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
Now that I’ve asked about you, let me tell you a little about me. Things are good, I’m staying busy with school/work/the flounder farm. One of the things I have started to get involved with more is my church.
3. Church Transition:
Whoa, speaking of church, I’m going on a mission trip this summer/spring/fall/winter. Few sentences about the place you are going, what you will be doing, etc.
4. Money Pitch:
The cost of the trip is $#,###. It would be great if you could support me and the church in this endeavor.
5. The Pretend You Don’t Care about the Money Line:
You’ve just asked for money, so it’s good to soften that hard sell with a sentence like, “Whether or not you are able to support the trip, I would greatly appreciate your prayers.”
Maybe the letters you receive are completely different, but for the last 20 years, that is essentially the letter I have written and received. Until today.
In addition to starting what may be the largest “we named our kids after Lord of the Rings characters community,” I thought it might be good to write the next mission trip fundraising letter you send out. You don’t have to use it, but at the bare minimum it might give you some ideas. Anywhere you see “/” that’s me trying to account for different situations. Simply choose the option that fits you best.
I never write you letters.
That’s a weird way to open a mission trip letter. My youth minister/pastor gave me a form letter to follow but that felt even weirder. The truth is that I don’t write anyone letters and if I opened up this letter by pretending this is just the latest in a long chain of correspondence we’ve kept up oh these many years, that would feel as fake as when people run out of things to say and ask you questions like, “hot enough for you?” Wow, that was a really atrocious run on sentence, but I’m excited about this trip and I’m not going to let sentence structure stand in my way.
If I were you, I would probably be thinking, “_______ is going on a mission trip?” That’s a completely fair thought. I keep asking myself that too. I’m not the first person people think of when it comes to feeding the hungry/helping the poor/working on a coconut farm. Plus, I’m so busy. School/work is really intense right now and this is not a good time to go on a mission trip. But I’m not sure if there is ever a “good time” to go on a mission trip. And I could probably come up with a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go, but I keep coming back to the one reason I should – God loves people.
I’ve been trying to live that in the life I currently have. I mean it’s easy to pray for far off places and far off people, but loving who you live and work with is a challenge. I’ve been trying to see my life as a mission field, not just this trip. And it’s been cool to see the way God has used this new approach to everything from the way I tip at restaurants to the way I treat people in traffic. But now, it’s time to take the things I’ve learned to a new longitude and latitude.
I’m going to _______ for ________days/weeks. Going wasn’t a hard decision. When it comes down to it, Jesus laid out a pretty simple religion for us, didn’t He? Love God, love others, and love ourselves. Nope, deciding to go was easy. Paying for it however, is a real challenge.
To be honest with you, I just don’t have $#####, laying about the house, eating baked Tostito chips and watching soap operas. So, instead of selling my plasma 87 times, I decided to send letters to people I don’t usually write and ask for something I don’t usually ask for, money. I’d love if you could financially support me on this mission trip. A little, a lot, any would be great. And if you want to know more about the trip, please let me know and I will give you a call.
The one thing on the form letter I got from church that I agreed with was the request for prayer. If you could pray about the trip, that would be great. As much as God loves mission trips, other people don’t. There will be a whole host of obstacles that pop up and entangle themselves around our ankles as we prepare to go love the people of ______. And knowing that you are praying would mean a lot to me.
Thanks for reading this rambling letter. I have included the form letter version as well in case you prefer a more traditional approach to the “can I please have some of your money” letter.
P.S. If you do give, there’s a good chance that you will be famous, or at least regionally famous because my friend Jon at Stuff Christians Like, God’s favorite sarcastic Christian blog, will probably give you a shout out. I’m just saying, something to think about.