Why Church Leaders Should Write More Handwritten Notes

November 18, 2020

Handwritten notes are rare. Electronic communication has all but erased the whimsy of cursive writing. The average adult writes something by hand about every 41 days—even rarer is a handwritten note snail-mailed to a friend. The average home receives a personal letter in the mail every seven weeks. 

In our wired world, handwritten notes seem to be a waste of time and money. Who would have thought fifty years ago that a postage stamp would cost much more than wireless texting into the sky? You can fling SMS characters through the air in an instant. Why take the time to write a letter or send a card? 

I believe every leader—especially pastors—should write handwritten notes. It’s not just for nostalgia. There are good leadership principles found in a handwritten note. 

Investment. Handwritten notes take time. Time is money. Money is important. When you take the time to write someone a handwritten note, you are sending a message that is greater than the few sentences contained in the note. A handwritten note demonstrates personal investment in an individual. 

Beauty. Even if you have sloppy penmanship, there is a beauty to handwritten notes. The slant and curves of letters give a glimpse into your personality. There is a vulnerable beauty to writing something by hand and giving it to someone. 

Memory. People tend to keep handwritten notes. Electronic communication is permanent in a different sort of way. The email masses stay in internet hinterland even after you hit the delete key. Handwritten notes are memorable to the person, not just contained in the memory of the computer. 

Gratitude. Handwritten notes show gratitude in a much greater way than other forms of electronic communication. You don’t typically ask for things in a handwritten note. Handwritten notes usually have thankfulness as their purpose. 

When do I use handwritten notes? Our staff sends a signed card to every person we pray for in our weekly staff chapel. I also write personal notes to church members who minister faithfully. The notes are as much for maintaining my humility as they are thanking a member. I will also occasionally write a note to a key national leader or influencer, especially if I had the opportunity to meet him or her.

Take the time to write a handwritten note. Make it a weekly habit. You might be surprised at the fruit from such a simple discipline.

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6 Comments

  • Robin G Jordan says on

    This is decidedly a good practice. The pastor of the church in which I was involved for ten years–from roughly nine months after it was launched until I became involved in a preaching ministry at a declining older church encouraged all of his ministry team and small group leaders to adopt this practice. Receiving a hand-written thankyou note made volunteers feel their contribution was really appreciated. The pastor also hosted a volunteer appreciation party every year.

  • Great reminder of a lost medium of communication. It is rare in our instant society where fast food dominates the table over a home cooked meal made with loving touch, for someone to invest their time in a well thought out and personalized hand written note. It can be a real standout, in the over saturated electronic world we live in today. Now why didn’t I put this on a card in the mail? I still value you.

  • I starting writing hand written notes when I was chair of the regional American Heart Association to contributors. The notes were so well receive, I carried it over to the Church.

    It is a lost art that the receiver of such notes cherish,

  • Completely agree. I’m the new lead pastor that was part of a planned transitions. Covid has been great blessing to this change in leadership, but the cards I write every week have proven worth every minute. I write to each person on the the weekly prayer list, leaders and people who have done special activities. WORTH IT! Everyone should make a bit of this.

  • I listened to your Radical Mentoring podcast. I then went to the website to sign up. I was really excited to get involved in mentoring men, a passion I’ve had for many years. That passion was fed and shaped by my years on staff with Word of Life Fellowship.

    My frustration is that I cannot get into the site. I followed instructions and filled out the forms, but it just kept sending me back to the beginning. Can you help?

  • I have practiced sending handwritten notes for many years. People like to receive these; believe it or not, they like to get something in the mail. As electronic communication has become more and more prevalent, USPS mail has become more and more a breath of fresh air to many. It does cost a little more and takes a bit more time, but I feel it is worth it.

    A team in our church meets every two weeks to send handwritten letters of sympathy to families who have recently lost a dear loved one. We also send handwritten letters of encouragement to individuals who have recently been diagnosed with severe illness. In addition, notes of congratulations are sent to newlyweds, those having new babies/adoptions, special anniversaries, etc. We have received great positive feedback from this ministry.