This story was submitted via our submissions page.
There’s nothing missionaries like more than being given what feels like “the runaround.” Especially when it is from the church where we became a Christian.
Allow me to set the stage for the following email exchange.
I had been calling (on a daily basis) and trying to set up an appointment with the pastor. I had sent a hand-written letter to the church, and began following up via telephone. I got to know the receptionist quite well, and could even recite the voicemail greeting of the pastor, matching his cadence exactly. I’ll ball-park it and say that I had left 15 messages.
Then, I found his email, and shot him the following message. (names and details have been changed to protect the–ahem–innocent.)
Thursday, November 4, 2010 9:36 AM
Hi Pastor Jenkins,
How are you? I hope the Fall ministry season is going well and the Lord is teaching you news things daily about his character. I have been trying to reach you for a month at the church office. I pray you received my letter and have had a chance to read it. I tell so many people that I came to know the Lord at Hope Church! I really believe in your church and what you are doing. I pray we are able to connect very soon. I think Cindy [the aforementioned receptionist] may be growing tired of me; I am totally kidding, she takes my messages and is very gracious every time.
To which I received the following response (go ahead and note the time)
November 4, 2010 at 10:08 AM
I have received notification of your calls. I appreciate the work of your ministry. However, at this time I am not interested in adding another person to my list of people in ministry to support through prayer or to support financially. As for the church, we are not taking on additional missions, missionaries, or mission projects at this time.
Please discontinue efforts to schedule a meeting with me. I have your information. If I change my mind, I will contact you.
With great hopes for the success of your efforts,
At this point I could have just stopped communicating, but I like to grow in my knowledge and abilities, and I’m a pretty abrupt person, so I sent this email the next week:
First, thanks for responding to my email so quickly. And, thanks for providing me with a response to my letter. I totally understand the position of you and the church. I am glad to see you are already involved with missions.
I do have a quick question, to help me in my future attempts in the supporting raising process. I desire to learn and grow so that I might better be efficient in trying to connect with believers to share about our work. So, here is my question: Why do you believe you were able to respond to my email in less than 30 minutes once it was sent rather than return my calls to the office over the course of 4 weeks? This is not meant to combative or argumentative, I just want to learn how to better communicate with others in the church.
In His Service,
And 15 minutes later, I got this:
First, responding to email can be done on MY schedule. So I do not need to interrupt my train of thought, or sequence of work in order to communicate.
Second, I use email as my primary means of communication along with Facebook—even with the congregation. That is probably not the pattern of many pastors, but it is with us.
Third, Email, etc is much faster and less complicated. A telephone call consumes way too much time with unnecessary pleasantries that are inefficient.
Fourth, Email forces me to consider the request, pray about it, and formulate a proper response, because it must be written out in a form that is understandable.
I hope this helps.
Also, it might be helpful for you to know that I come from 22 years in the financial services business in which I found it necessary to avoid distractions from a variety of solicitors.
I teach my staff that just because someone leaves a message for them, that does NOT obligate them to return the call. I also teach them that if they see that they have missed a call, but there is no message left, then the person must think that it was not important enough to expect a return call.
Highlights from that email include but are not limited to the fact that email doesn;t interrupt his train of thought, but he responds within minutes, and that he considers pleasantries “unnecessary.” (facepalm)
My last email went like this. Too passive aggressive? You be the judge:
Thanks for responding to my email and answering my question. I am glad to see you using email, facebook, etc as a means of communication.
I am saddened to hear you count my work as solicitation. I understand that terminology may come from your 22 years in finance, but I will be very honest with you when I say our work is not anything like soliciting. We share our vision, our calling, and God’s work. We don’t sell anything. Did you read the letter I sent? We can end our conversation here as I don’t want to waste your time or efficiency beyond this point.
Oh the joys of support raising. Who’s with me?
(if you are with me, feel free to submit your own tale like this one by clicking here)