Keeping in Touch

            At Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren, we use the internet to connect with our people on a weekly basis. Our average attendance for worship is 90 persons. The deacons keep track of who is missing, taking turns with attendance. This information is used a) for the pastor and deacons to be aware of trends. For instance, if someone is missing for several Sundays, this may be saying something to which the church needs to pay attention - and reach out. On a week-by-week basis, however, the deacon's attendance-taking work b) allows us to send a note to those who were absent on a given Sunday.

            These letters somehow express that we missed those who were away from us. As our time of sharing "Joys and Concerns" is very important to us, we include a listing of them with a request for prayer. We also share the sermon - as a link when sent via e-mail, or attached to the note when sent through the regular mail. Additionally, we highlight upcoming events. Below is an example of our letters. At the top is a sample of the e-mail version, at the bottom is what the postal service version of the lead-in message might be. The "Joys and Concerns" remain the same for both. We do not send to "casual" attenders, unless we think this might lead them into a more regular involvement.

            As 2/3 to 3/4 of our members and friends have e-mail, we can afford to do this now. If we had to send letters through the postal service every week out to all who missed, at 37¢ a piece, the cost would be prohibitive. For example, on the date below we sent out 22 e-mails, and 10 letters. Our cost was $3.70, but would have been $11.84 without e-mail ($192.40 a year as opposed to $618.68).

            Churches need to use multiple media. If we only sent out e-mails, we would miss those who are not connected to the Internet, folks who are just as important to us as those who are computer-minded. Often our shut-ins fit in this category. E-mail is not the cure-all, however. Folks don't treat e-mail the way they do regular mail. Sometimes they don't check their e-mail for weeks, and they change addresses frequently to avoid spam. As a church, we need to use as many ways of communicating as possible - internet, USPS, phone, and (most important!) face-to-face.

         p.s. I wish to thank Richard Fairchild of the Sermons and Sermon - Lectionary Resources website for suggesting this possibility in a personal e-mail. It has worked very well in this setting. A "pastoral size" congregation (60-150) seems ideal for it. Other types may not.  -plh

            By the way, we have some folks who "tune us in" on a Sunday morning when they can't make it to church, "worshiping" from home by listening to the messages and/or following the order of worship when illness shuts them in. The regular sending of these notes to those unable to be with us on a given Sunday makes folks aware of this resource. Whether they make use of it or not is always the question. One of our members listens to and writes down an abridged form of the joys and concerns which we use for our mailing. As this person lives part of the year in Florida, our digital recording of the service allows her to do this even there (and feel like she was here).


sample e-mail

Dear ,

            We missed you in church yesterday. I’ve included the joys and concerns below. Please pray over them. My sermon can be read at <http://rockhay.tripod.com/sermons/2002/02-08-11.htm>. Next week is Camp Sunday - a time to celebrate what God is doing at Shepherd’s Spring and Camp Mardela. Those who went as campers or adult helpers have been invited to share about their experience. Come prepared to sing camp songs and rejoice in this valuable ministry... We’ll start a whole new year of Sunday School two weeks from now on September 1, dedicating our teachers and learners of all ages.

            Enough previews of coming attractions. I hope we’ll see you here. Until then, God bless.

Your brother-in-Christ,
Pastor Pete

*******************************

Lillian Reichart passed away Saturday night. The memorial service will be held in our church this Wednesday night at 7 pm, with a meal beforehand at 6 pm.

Chuck Tipton’s brother-in-law, Ron LeCount, died on Friday morning. The funeral will take place Tuesday at the Oakland C.O.B. near Greenville, Ohio. Be in prayer for the whole family.

Gail Hanna’s mother, Libby Johnson, went back in Union Memorial hospital last Monday.

Lois Webb went back to the hospital on Friday for more chemotherapy. Hopefully, she will only be in the hospital 4 days. Omitted from the sharing last Sunday was the birth of Miles Hartman Webb on August 9, weighing 8 lb 1 oz (not 11 oz) and 20 inches long. His parents are Jennifer & Randy (son of Lois & Ron) Webb.

David Ricci asked prayers for his grandmother who begins radiation treatment which will last for six weeks.

Glenn Raistrick shared that he had a good visit with his grandmother, Dixie Wells, last Sunday and found her in good spirits.


sample postal service letter
(with the above "Joys and Concerns)

August 19, 2002

Dear ,

            We missed you in church yesterday. I’ve included the joys and concerns below. Please pray over them. My sermon is attached. Next week is Camp Sunday - a time to celebrate what God is doing at Shepherd’s Spring and Camp Mardela. Those who went as campers or adult helpers have been invited to share about their experience. Come prepared to sing camp songs and rejoice in this valuable ministry... We’ll start a whole new year of Sunday School two weeks from now on September 1, dedicating our teachers and learners of all ages.

            Enough previews of coming attractions. I hope we’ll see you here. Until then, God bless.

Your brother-in-Christ,
Pastor Pete


Long Green Valley Church website

Pastor's Messages website