Four Reasons Why Support Letters Are Important

I've made several trips to the post office in the past few days, mailing support letters from members of our mission trip team to their family and friends, asking them to support their trip prayerfully and/or financially.

While standard in many settings, the practice of using support letters to raise money for short-term mission trips is not without controversy. Despite this, I require short-term mission trip team members to write support letters for international trips. Here are four reasons why support letters are an important part of mission trip preparation:

1. They're educational. I used to think the act of writing support letters would increase the likelihood that students would one day support full-time missionaries. Unfortunately, the few studies I've seen on this suggest that for the most part that isn't happening, perhaps because many of today's high school students simply do not know full-time missionaries. As a result, they have no idea how such missionaries raise their support. While I still hope students one day will support full-time missionaries, I now advocate requiring team members to write support letters because of the teachable moments they provide us. In the process of teaching students about support letters, we can share the stories of missionaries with them. When we teach them what information to include in their letters, we can give them support letters written by missionaries currently in the field as examples. These simple practices make the abstract idea of mission work tangible and concrete. This, in turn, extends the impact of mission trips beyond the two weeks we actually spend in another country.

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Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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