Handwritten correspondence is an almost-forgotten form of communication. And with this dying form of communication comes the slow death of a wonderful art form: handwriting, penmanship. Correspondence is now relegated to text messages, emails, Facebook posts, and the dreaded 140-character tweet.
As seen in my own life and ministry, it takes a lot less thought, effort, and commitment to fire off an email or other form of digital communication. With less thought, effort, and commitment come more frequent opportunities for thoughtlessness, laziness, and other forms of sinful thought and communication.
In an effort to live a more sanctified life and to seek greater purity and care in my written communication with others, I’ve decided to develop a correspondence ministry. I’m also motivated to do this by a love for my Christian brethren and a desire to edify them. Furthermore, I hope the Lord will allow me to engage unbelievers in this form of communication, providing me with yet more gospel opportunities.
I Loved Report Writing
Early in my law enforcement career came advancements in in-car technology. Gone were the handwritten patrol logs. They were replaced by mobile digital terminals that allowed field deputies to maintain their logs on “Pong” generation computers. It wasn’t until after I retired that patrol deputies were able to utilize word processors in their cars to complete and submit field and crime reports.
For 20 years, I wrote thousands and thousands of words, in hundreds of reports, with a #2 pencil. Along the way, I developed a love for penmanship, which further inspired my love for writing. Yes, I was one of those strange law enforcement professionals who actually liked report writing.
A Love My Dad Fostered in Me
While all of my report writing was in the form of capital block letters, I never lost my love for cursive handwriting. But long before I started writing crime reports, my father instilled in me a love for penmanship. My dad had beautiful handwriting. Every stroke of the pen or pencil meant something to my dad. Part of him was transferred onto every page, on which he placed a mark.
My dad loved straight lines, symmetry, and drafting. He also loved various forms of artistic impression. Whether it was painting a watercolor version of the Last Supper, or helping me win my 7th Grade Science Fair (hand-drawn star charts), or painting a lettered sign for our apartment complex, my dad loved to put pencil, pen, or paint to paper.
Wow. I had no idea writing this would evoke so much emotion. I sure do miss my dad.
Written Correspondence: It’s All They Had
If you know me well, you know that I love to read biographies–specifically, biographies about great preachers of yesteryear. Whether open-air preachers or pulpiteers, whether pastors or evangelists, almost every biography I’ve read has included exemplars of the subject’s written correspondences.
Rutherford, Whitefield, Spurgeon, and the many other biographies I have read of lesser known (but no less impressive) men of God include letter after letter written to believer and unbeliever alike. Their letters were often worshipful, theological, pastoral, and evangelistic. In a word, they were powerful.
Beyond in-person, oral communication, written correspondence was the only form of communication these men had. Testimonies abound of how, after long days of ministry and travel, men like the before-mentioned would sit down at a table or desk, light a candle, and write letters for hours.
My New Correspondence Ministry
Inspired by godly men of old, and worn out by the drama of communication on social media (much of it self-inflicted), I’ve decided to spend less time on social media and utilized some of the saved time to engage in handwritten correspondence ministry. The structure and function of the ministry is simple enough.
You write me letters and I’ll write you letters. You can correspond with me at the following address:
P.O. Box 2602
Davenport, IA 52809
I will correspond with anyone, with the following caveat. Any letter I receive from or send to a member of the opposite sex will be seen by my wife, and possibly my elders. Handwritten correspondence can be an intimate activity. Therefore, I will guard my own heart, my wife’s heart, my marriage, my family, my church family, and my ministry by having as many forms of accountability in place as possible.
Before you write and send me a letter, please make sure you do not include anything in your correspondence you don’t want anyone else to ever read. I cannot promise that level of privacy or anonymity.
Please remember, I am not a pastor. I am not your pastor.
Unless I know you well (a close friend with whom I have years of relationship, like someone in my biological or church family) I cannot provide you with deep, meaningful, counsel from afar, via letter. Even if I know you well the role, responsibility, and privilege to provide you with pastoral care belongs to your pastors/elders, in your local assembly. The men who should be your first line of defense, counsel, accountability, and encouragement should be the shepherds overseeing the local flock to which you belong.
With the above in mind, I hope to hear from you soon!
P.O. Box 2602
Davenport, IA 52809
Wesley Tennent says