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Ministry Etiquette

10 Tips On Writting E-mail When Sending For or on Behalf of Ministry

When drafting emails for ministry purposes, although the task of emailing certainly has its own universal rules, most of these rules are grounded in traditional common courtesies. The Golden Rule of "Doing onto Others" should definitely be a staple concept when sending out email on behalf of your ministry to others, especially your colleagues in ministry. Thinking before you compose your next email may be the one thing that will save you and your ministry from undesired responses and potential embarrassment. Therefore, consider the following etiquette tips before you hit SEND!
Fine Dining EtiquetteE-mail Etiquette For Ministry
 
10 Tips On Writting E-mail When Sending For or on Behalf of Ministry
 
When drafting emails for ministry purposes, although the task of emailing certainly has its own universal rules, most of these rules are grounded in traditional common courtesies.  The Golden Rule of "Doing onto Others" should definitely be a staple concept when sending out email on behalf of your ministry to others, especially your colleagues in ministry. Thinking before you compose your next email may be the one thing that will save you and your ministry from undesired responses and potential embarrassment. Therefore, consider the following etiquette tips before you hit SEND!
 
1. ) SUBJECT LINE: The SUBJECT line is the heart-beat of your e-mail and can many times determine if your e-mail makes it to the inbox, junk-mail box or deleted mail box of your recipient. When sending an email preferably solicited, or based on an existing or intent to establish a relationship, be sure to have a short subject line that indicates clearly what the topic of the email is. Typos, ALL CAPS or all small case can lend to the impression you may be spammer or diminishes the credibility of your email.
 
2.)  Addressing: When addressing your ministy contacts, including your colleagues in ministry, initially assume the highest level of courtesy. For example:  Greetings Evangelist White, Hello Bishop Graham, or Dear Rev. Jones, etc. Unless you contact states "call me Janet" or "you can call me James" it would be best to remain formal and respectful. You don't want to be perceived as taking premature liberties in the relationship if too soon or as too common in an existing relationship.
 
3. ) TO:, From:, BCC, CC: fields:  These fields, not used properly, could certainly cause some un-necessary confustion.
  • TO:  Make sure you have your contact's name formally typed. Rev. John Jackson- not in lower case or all caps.
  • FROM: Make sure you have your full name formally typed. Example: Nancy P. Bible  Not in lower case or all caps.  The later two can give the perception of lack of education or limited experience with technology.
  • BCC: According to technology muse Judith Kallos, use this field when e-mailing a group of contacts who do not personally know each other. By listing an arm's length list of e-mail addresses in the Cc or TO fields of contacts who do not know each other or who have never met is conducive to publishing their e-mail address to strangers. This is a privacy issue! With those you are forging partnerships with, visibly listing their e-mail address in with a group of strangers will make one wonder what other privacy issues you may not respect or understand.
  • CC: Use this field when there are a handful of associates involved in a discussion that requires all be on the same page. These people know each other or have been introduced and have no problem having their e-mail address exposed to the parties involved. If you are not sure if a ministry associate would mind their address being made public, ask!

4. Formatting: In ministry email etiquette, unless you would type something in special fonts, bold or all-capital letters on your ministry or church letterhead, don't do it when e-mailing on behalf of your ministry. The more formatting or embedded images you include in your email the higher the chance that your e-mail could be blocked, too big to receive, or perceived as spam. Even something as simple as using a different font makes your e-mail's display contingent upon the recipient having that specific font on their system. Keep in mind the recipient may not have their e-mail program configured in such a way as to display your formatting the way it appears on your system - if at all.

5. ) Attachments: Be very aware of sending large attachements, i.e. 10M Power Point presentation that the recipient didn't request and you fill up their inbox causing subsequent business correspondence to bounce as undeliverable. This could cause a lot of frustration for the recipient and they could decide to block future correspondance from you. Especially, if they do not have Power Point or the program necessary to open your attachment. Never assume your ministry colleagues have the software you do to open any file you may arbitrarily send. If you need to send a file over 500,000 in size, courtesy dictates you ask the recipient first if it is okay to send a large file. Next, confirm they have the same software and version you do and what is the best time of day to sent it to them to ensure they are available to download the large file and keep their e-mail flowing. Never send large attachments without warning, on weekends or after business hours when the recipient may not be there to keep their inbox clear.

6.) Using Previous E-mail for New Correspondence: If you want to give the perception of lazy, find a previous e-mail from the party you want to communicate with, hit reply and start typing about something completely irrelevant to the old e-mail's subject. Always start a new e-mail and add your contacts to your address book so you can add them to a new e-mail with one click.

7.) Down Edit Your Replies: Do not just hit reply and start typing -- that's called top posting. Editing is a skill those you communicate with will appreciate as it lends to reflecting a respect for their time and clarity in your communications. Removing parts of the previous e-mail that no longer apply to your response including e-mail headers and signature files removes the clutter. By making the effort to reply point by point keeps the conversation on track with fewer misunderstandings.

8.) Common Courtesy: Hello, Hi, Good Day, Thank You, Sincerely, Best Regards. All those intros and sign offs that are a staple of professional communications should also be used in your ministry e-mail communications. Always have a salutation and sign off with every e-mail. Here again - think ministry letterhead.
 
9.) Signature files: Keep your signature files to no more than 5-6 lines to avoid being viewed as egocentric. Limit your signature to your Name, your title, your ministry name, and phone number. Include a link to your Web site where the recipient can get all your contact information from A-Z - that is what your site is for. Do not forget to include the "http://" when including your Web site address within e-mails and your signature file to ensure the URL is recognized as a clickable URL regardless of the user's software or platform.
 
10.) Level of Formality: Try to avoid the prevailing assumption that e-mail by it's very nature allows you to be informal in your business e-mail. Only time and relationship building efforts can guide when you can formalize your ministry relationships and therefore your e-mail's tone. One should communicate as if your e-mail is on your company letterhead at all times.
 
Avoid ALL-CAPS - this symbolizes shouting or anger
Avoid smileys and symbols- your ministry counterpart may not be up to date on these symbls and they are informal
Avoid Acronyms- avoid saying this like FWIW (for what it's worth), FYI (for your information), TTYL (talk to you later) - these can come across very informal, immature or social media-like, and sometimes rude, based on the context.
 
Always remember, this is ministry communication and your ministry image you are branding. Once it's out there, it's out there!
 
Author: This article was based upon technology concepts by Judith Kallos. The article has been adapted for ministry purposes and permission requested to the author.