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Ten "Commandments" for Writing Better Letters

All Purpose Letter Writing Outline

Tips For Using This Book

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Letters to Members of All Ages

Chapter 2
Letters to Other Members

Chapter 3
Letters to Nonmembers

Chapter 4
Letters to Church Staff

Chapter 5
Letters to the Community

Chapter 6
Letters to the Media

Chapter 7
Letters to Vendors

Chapter 8
Letters for Special Occasions

Chapter 9
Letters of Acceptance, Confirmation, Invitations, & Refusal

Chapter 10
Letters to Raise Funds

Chapter 11
Letters to Colleagues

Chapter 12
Letters of Policy & Doctrine

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Chapter 9 ē Letters of Acceptance, Confirmation, Invitations, & Refusal

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Ministers are asked to speak before other congregations and groups, and ask others to be speakers at special church functions and services. Ministers also are asked to serve on commit tees and boards.

Sometimes these invitations to speak and to serve are welcomed by the minister and are easily accepted. Other times, the invitation is felt to be inappropriate, or the minister is just too busy to schedule yet another engagement on a loaded calendar.

Letters of acceptance, and especially letters of refusal, require dignity and tact. Also, letters of invitation must be clear in what is being asked, and convincing that the invitation is sincere. It is equally important that when an invitation has been extended and accepted, a follow-up letter confirming all the relevant details be sent.

9-1 / To Groups about Accepting New Position

Thank you for your recent invitation for me to join the board of the County Substance Abuse Program. As you probably know, I have been for some time concerned about the number of people in our community who abuse alcohol and drugs. I have had opportunities to work with some of them in trying to help them deal with their problems, and it has been challenging yet rewarding. Therefore, I am pleased to accept your invitation and join forces with you in helping with a cause which is so worthwhile. I am confident that by combining my efforts with your groupís, many more will find the assistance they need to break away from abusive behavior.

Thank you again. I look forward to attending my first meeting.

9-2 / To Groups about Accepting Speaking Invitation

An acceptance of this type may be brief and courteous. Itís wise to restate the specifics of the offer, so as to be certain they were understood correctly.

Thank you very much for asking me to speak at the High School Commencement at 2:00 PM on MONTH XX. I consider it a privilege to accept your invitation.

As you suggested, I will plan on talking for twenty minutes. Within the next month, my office will forward to you the title of my address.

Again, I appreciate this opportunity. As the date approaches, I will be in touch with you.

9-3 / To Groups about Accepting Recognition

I was delightfully surprised to receive your letter announcing that I have been selected as Man of the Year by the city. This is a great honor indeed, one that I did not expect. There are many here who have done much more than I have, but I will always appreciate my having been chosen. I look forward to the annual banquet on MONTH XX, and as you suggested, I will prepare some brief remarks to make after the presentation of the award.

Again, my deepest thanks to each member of the committee who decided on my receiving this recognition. With Godís help, I will do my best to continue to work for the betterment of the city.

9-4 / To Groups about Confirming Dates & Times

It is with great anticipation that I await the coming of NAME OF GROUP to Community Church. We have started publicity for your visit, and the congregation is eagerly beginning preparations for it. Truly, this will be a time of special ministry.

To confirm our plans, you will be appearing at the 7:00 PM service on Sunday, MONTH XX. The group will arrive at the church at approximately 4:00 PM, at which time the sound equipment will be set up with help from the men of the church. A potluck supper will be served at 5:30 PM

I will open the service, which will then be turned over to you. After your ministry, which should last about an hour, I will close the service.

If you have any questions, please contact my office. Thank you for your willingness to come, and may God bless you as you travel to other churches to sing in His name.

9-5 / To Groups about Confirming Telephone Conversations

Telephone conversations should always be followed up with a letter; even with the best intentions, itís easy to forget or confuse matters discussed. In this example, the pastor names the person he spoke with, so that if there are any questions about the details worked out, they can be referred to him.

It is with great anticipation that we look forward to your coming to present the NAME OF PLAY at Community Church on MONTH XX. Having never had professional Christian drama in our sanctuary, we are expecting a great evening of inspiration and entertainment.

As I discussed on the telephone with NAME, your group will plan on arriving at the church at 4:30 PM. A soup/salad bar will be served to you at 5:30, and you will have the remaining time before the 7:30 service to set up and rehearse. Following the conclusion of the program, members of your group will be assigned to host families in the congregation, where they will be spending the night.

Other details may be worked out upon your arrival. However, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. We are eager to have you here at Community Church!

9-6 / To Groups about Inviting Groups

Through our members NAME and NAME, I have recently heard about your ministry in music and how God has been using you. I would very much like for Joyful Sound to come to Community Church and sing for a Sunday evening service.

If you would be interested, please send me information about the group, including what sound equipment would be needed and what financial arrangements you make. Our policy has usually been to take up a freewill offering the evening a group ministers, with the total amount collected going to them. In addition, they are permitted to sell records, tapes, etc. after the ser vice.

We would also need to know any other requirements your group has, such as for meals or housing. Please send the name and address of your pastor in order that I may contact him if necessary.

The congregation is always enthusiastic about special services, and I am certain that if we can work something out, it will be a great blessing for all of us. I look forward to hearing from you.

9-7 / To Groups about Inviting Special Guests

I would like to extend to you a special invitation to join us for our evening service on Sunday, MONTH XX, at 7:00 PM. At that time, NAME and NAME of CITY, STATE will be sharing their testimony.

Since part of their experience deals with NAMEís loss of over 000 pounds with the help of God and Weight Watchers, I wanted to be certain your weight loss group knew about it. I would encourage as many members of it as possible to come hear this inspiring program.

I hope to see a number of people from your group as our guests on MONTH XX. It will be well worth your time!

9-8 / To Groups about Refusing New Position

Thank you very much for your letter of MONTH XX, offering me the position of chaplain at the PRISON NAME. While I have been greatly blessed during the times I have come to your facility to visit the inmates, I find I cannot accept full time employment. I am satisfied with my job as pastor at Community Church and currently have no desire to move on to another place.

Again, I do appreciate your thinking of me. Perhaps at some point in the future, God will call me into prison ministry on a regular basis, but for now, I must decline your offer. Naturally, I will continue my monthly visits to the reformatory, and I look forward to working with your new chaplain when he/she is hired.

9-9 / To Groups about Refusing a Group

Itís always difficult to say ďno,Ē but unfortunately, itís a task which must be done at least occasionally. This warm refusal candidly states the reasons for the negative response, making it clear that it isnít a personal rejection, and leaving open the possibility of another time.

Thank you so much for the information about your group NAME OF GROUP. It sounds like the Lord is truly blessing your ministry.

However, at this time, we cannot ask you to come to Community Church. On several occasions during the past year, we have had musical groups share with us, and another one is scheduled for next month. I certainly feel music ministry is important, and our members have always been receptive to them. But I believe that by having too often the same type of ministry, its effectiveness can be lessened.

I will keep your information on file, and perhaps next year we will be able to work out a date when you can come. In the meantime, I pray that God will continue to use you in His service.

9-10 / To Groups about Refusing an Invitation

Thank you so much for inviting me to speak at your annual Father/Son Banquet. I would like to accept, but unfortunately, I cannot.

Over the past six months, I have spoken to a number of groups, which has been a great blessing to me. However, I have recently felt God calling me to spend more time with my family. Iím sure you can understand my desire to be with my children while they are young. Be cause of this, I have decided that I will not accept any speaking engagements for the rest of this year.

If, at some point in the future, you again have the occasion to need a speaker, please feel free to contact me. I may be open to accept at that time.

Again, I appreciate your offer. May God bless you and send you the right speaker for this yearís banquet.

9-11 / To Groups about Refusing Recognition

I appreciate very much your recent letter inviting me to serve as honorary chairman of the 200X Tourney with the Pro Golf Fundraiser to benefit Mental Health. It is a great honor for me that you want me to serve in this position.

However, I find that at this time I am unable to accept your kind offer. During the tournament, I will be in California attending a conference, which will not be over until several days after the end of the fundraiser.

I certainly want to help fight this cruel disease in any way in which I can, and I deeply regret that I cannot accept the chairmanship. But I am confident that you can find someone else even more deserving to take my place. Perhaps in the future I will be able to do something similar to this.

Again, thank you for thinking of me. I wish you all the best as you plan the Tourney with the Pros.

9-12 / To Groups about Refusing Speaker

It was with interest that I read your recent letter offering to provide a speaker for one of our menís fellowship meetings. However, upon sharing your proposal with our board, it was decided that we will be unable to schedule such a program at this time. While hearing about energy conservation would prove to be helpful, it is not in line with the type of meeting that we attempt to provide for our members. That is, the thrust of the evening is to offer spiritual enrichment.

Nevertheless, I will keep on file the information sheet you sent. If circumstances should change, I will contact you. Again, thank you for your interest.

9-13 / To Speakers about Confirming Costs

Thank you for your letter of MONTH XX, 200X, specifying the terms under which you will be speaking at Community Church in MONTH. We will be more than happy to provide the $00.00 you requested for travel expenses, as well as allow you the opportunity to sell your book after the service. In addition, we will provide a meal for you upon your arrival at the church, approximately 5:00 PM

We are excited about your coming and are confident that God will use you in a mighty way as you minister to our congregation. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

9-14 / To Speakers about Confirming Dates & Times

It was with regret that we received your letter indicating that you will be unable to speak at Community Church on MONTH XX as planned. However, the alternate date which you mentioned as a possibility for your coming, MONTH XX, would suit us very well. Why donít you plan on ministering to our congregation on that Sunday instead? All the arrangements can remain the same; the service begins at 7:00 PM, and you will have thirty minutes for your presentation.

While it is unfortunate that the original plans will not work out, we understand the situation and feel confident that the new date will be just as satisfactory for all involved. I appreciate your promptness in informing me of the change, and I anticipate a good time of fellowship with you upon your arrival.

9-15 / To Speakers about Confirming Special Events & Facilities

As the time for you to speak to Community Church approaches, I join the congregation in a sense of growing excitement. Truly, we have a wonderful evening in store for us!

I wanted to inform you that I did talk to the church council about the possibility of renting the high school auditorium for your program. The members agreed with me that a large crowd could be expected to attend and that our own sanctuary just would not be big enough. There fore, we have arranged with the school to use the auditorium, located at ADDRESS (the south end of the school).

As we discussed before, the time for the service to begin will remain at 7:00 PM. All other arrangements will also stay the same.

We are confident that this larger location will provide a superior setting for the presentation you will be making. We look forward to an opportunity for great ministry.

9-16 / To Speakers about Confirming Speakers

While this letter is enthusiastic about the speaker coming, its rather formal tone stresses the importance of the guidelines for his visit. Numbering them adds emphasis.

We are glad of your willingness to share with us at Community Church on Sunday, MONTH XX in our10:35 AM morning worship service.

We have sought to have your ministry here because we feel it is compatible with our vision and will be strengthening to the Body. Please allow us to help you make your visit a memorable one. You will love the Community Church people and find them very responsive and kind.

To make your ministry most effective, we ask that you observe the following five guidelines:

1. The pastor will be in full control of the service. At the conclusion of the ministry, the guest will turn the service back to the pastor for final announcements and the closing of the service.

2. Since the Community Church worship is a complete service, each service will include a time of singing and worship. Itís our desire for the guest minister to be present, on the platform, from the beginning of the service. (Our people will not respect dramatic entrances just before the ministry.)

3. The pastor is the only person authorized to receive offerings. The guest minister will not take any offering. This must be strictly adhered to. Community Church is a generous church and we will bless you.

4. It has been popular not to be strict concerning time limitations. This is not our belief. We are considerate of our people, the hour, and the many babies in our nursery. The pastor and the guest minister can discuss these things and work together on them.

5. We feel it is the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as well as the years of practical experience that has helped us develop these guidelines. We thank you for working together with us to have a great meeting.

9-17 / To Speakers about Confirming Telephone Conversations

It was a joy for me to talk to you over the telephone last week. Iím sure that having you here will be a great blessing for the congregation.

To confirm what we agreed upon, you will speak for about thirty minutes during the 7:00 PM worship service on Sunday, MONTH XX. A freewill offering will be taken to go toward your expenses in coming to Community Church, and a table will be set up for you to use after the service to sell copies of the book you have written.

Please send a bio sheet/press release with a photo of yourself as soon as possible, in order that we may begin publicity.

Should you have any questions, contact my office.

Again, thank you for your willingness to minister to us. May God bless and guide you as you prepare.

9-18 / To Speakers about Inviting Speakers

After hearing you speak at Faith Memorial Church recently, one of our members suggested to me that we invite you to come address our church as part of a Sunday evening service. If you would be interested, please let me know so that we may select an appropriate date. Also, what do you charge for speaking engagements?

I understand that you are an inspiring speaker, and I would like very much to have you come here in the near future. I look forward to hearing from you.

May God bless you richly!

9-19 / To Speakers about Refusing Speakers

I recently received your resume and your request that you be considered for a possible speaking engagement at Community Church. While I would like to be more positive, I must tell you frankly that, at this time, I do not feel that your presentation would be of interest to the majority of our congregation. The average age of the members is28 and only about five families who regularly attend Community Church are nearing the retirement age. Therefore, while I am certain that your talk about ďPlanning Your RetirementĒ would prove to be helpful and interesting to people in older age groups, our church would not be open to such a ministry.

Nevertheless, I will keep your letter on file, and if in the future circumstances change, I will not hesitate to contact you. Thank you, and may God bless you as you present your talks.

9-20 / To Individuals about Accepting a New Position

Thank you for your letter of MONTH XX, 200X, offering me the position of professor of New Testament at Bible College. It is with great anticipation that I accept your invitation. For several years, I have had a strong desire to get back into the role of a full time teacher, and being part of the faculty at your institution will be an answer to that prayer.

Naturally, my family and I will be relocating to your area as soon as possible. I have submitted my resignation to Community Church, effective MONTH XX. By the start of the school year, I shall be more than ready to begin my new duties.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to serve God in this new and challenging calling, and I look forward to working with you and the other staff.

May God bless you.

9-21 / To Individuals about Accepting Speaking Invitation

Thank you for inviting me to speak to your sixth grade class about my recent trip to Mexico. I would be happy to accept. Would you also be interested in my bringing some of the slides I took while on the trip? If so, I can plan on bringing those as well as some of the interesting things I purchased there.

As far as the dates you mentioned, either DAY, MONTH XX or DAY, MONTH XX would be fine with me. Please have your teacher contact me and we will set up the details.

Again, Iím glad you wrote me. I look forward to speaking to your class.

9-22 / To Individuals about Accepting Recognition

I was touched by your letter requesting permission to nominate me for the High Schoolís Hall of Fame. Certainly there are many more deserving in the community than I am, but if you wish to do this, go ahead.

In the years in which I have worked with youth, especially those in trouble, I have found great satisfaction. Not only has it been exciting to see the successes in which someone totally turns his/her life around for the good, but the so called failures have been a lesson in perseverance to me. From them, I have learned never to give up Ė that God can reach even the toughest heart.

Again, I truly appreciate your kind gesture to acknowledge my ministry in the school. While I certainly didnít devote all those hours with teens merely to gain recognition, itís still nice to have some!

9-23 / To Individuals about Confirming Costs

It is only several weeks from when I will be addressing the Father/Son Banquet at Community Church, and I am very much looking forward to coming. I trust that the bio sheet/press releases which I mailed you last month are sufficient for your publicity; if you need more, please contact me.

Thank you for your willingness to accommodate me financially. The $00.00 for my travel expenses plus the opportunity to sell my book following the service will be more than adequate in providing for my needs.

Again, I am expecting an enriching evening with your congregation on MONTH XX, and I appreciate your confidence in me as shown by your inviting me to come.

9-24 / To Individuals about Inviting Special Guests

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join us for worship at Community Church on Sunday, MONTH XX, at 10:30 AM. At that time, NAME will be recognized for twenty years of service as Sunday school Superintendent. I know it would mean a great deal to him if as many as possible of his children and grandchildren could be present.

It is quite an achievement to have faithfully served the church in this position for so long, and we want to do everything possible to honor him. Following the service, an informal reception will be held for him in the Fellowship Hall.

9-25 / To Individuals about Refusing New Position

Thank you for writing to me concerning your desire to do more to fight pornography in our community. I certainly share that desire Ė we desperately need to eliminate the adult bookstores and convenience store sales of soft-core porn in order to return to the type of community in which we can raise our families in traditional values.

However, at this time I must turn down your offer to join you in forming a new task force to combat pornography locally. I feel that with several branches of national organizations active in our city, it would be counterproductive to have another group with the same goals. It makes more sense to me to join forces even more with the existing organizations than to begin some thing new.

I hope you understand that I am totally sympathetic with what you want to do; I just differ with you as to the means to accomplish that goal. Again, Iím grateful that you contacted me. May God bless your labors for Him.

9-26 / To Individuals about Refusing Invitation

Handling this delicate situation isnít easy, because the parents are almost bound to be upset by the refusal, no matter how well he handles it. But in cases like this where itís strongly felt that there is no possibility of compromise, one can only explain his rationale, and hope the recipient will at least eventually understand.

I recently received your request that I come speak to your daughter about her alcohol problem. Your confidence in me is appreciated, and normally I would be more than willing to help in situations like this. However, in dealing with substance abuse, success in breaking the cycle is possible only when the abuser herself is to the point of acknowledging the difficulty. Thus far, I have seen no evidence that NAME wants to change. You have made the call for help, not her.

Therefore, I must refuse your request. When she herself is ready to recognize the problem and asks for my assistance, I will be more than happy to respond. But until that time, I believe the best course of action is to wait.

May I recommend that you consider attending Al Anon, meetings for those who live with an alcoholic? The people there can help you learn how to cope with your daughter, and I am sure you would find it helpful. If you are interested, please contact me and I will supply you with the time and location of the nearest meeting.

If I can be of service to you any other way, please let me know.

9-27 / To Individuals about Refusing Recognition

Thank you for your recent letter expressing your appreciation for my efforts to help your son. I join you in rejoicing that NAME has made definite steps toward progress. Breaking away from the cycle of drugs is extremely difficult, but I am confident that with Godís help he will continue to rebuild his life in the right direction.

As for your establishing a scholarship at the high school in my honor, I must ask that you not name the scholarship fund after me. In my work with troubled youth, it is important that they see me as a friend on their level, not one linked with the police, school officials, etc. Having my name on the scholarship fund might jeopardize this trust in at least some of the teensí eyes. I want to keep my role in helping kids low-key, in order to make it most effective, and while I would normally welcome the chance to have some recognition of my efforts, in this case I feel it might prove to be detrimental.

I am confident that you will understand my feelings and respect them. Again, my thanks for your gesture.

Copyright © by Stephen R. Clark. All rights reserved.