Hallmark and The Missional Church

Let’s talk about greeting cards.

Every church has at least one lady who sends greeting cards to church members.  Birthday cards. Get well cards. I’m-praying-for-you cards.  We sometimes call this a card ministry.  But I wonder how effective this is as pastoral care for a 21st Century Church. As I leave a conference about offering pastoral care to caregivers, some of us were talking yesterday about the dear ladies who send the cards.  For a certain generation, sending a card is one of the most thoughtful gestures of affection.  To other generations, it’s not at all meaningful, especially when it comes with a platitudinous blurb or just a signature. My grandmother always sent me a birthday letter about the day I was born and I have dozens of them.  They are almost identical as she sent the same tale every year. Those are precious letters, written thoughtfully and with some effort especially in her older years. SBC used to get a card from a church lady for his birthday, but she didn’t have his name right. Ever. I’m sure she meant for the cards to be a meaningful gesture, but they struck SBC as a inauthentic.  She didn’t even know his actual name. One older lady I know was hurt when her daughter didn’t send a birthday card to her.  The daughter had taken her mother out to dinner and given her flowers.  But there was no card.  Fail. A guy told me yesterday that people under the age of 40 find greeting cards to be a fake form of showing real care – unless the card contains a personal note or a check.  This seems to be a generational preference.  What seems thoughtful to some seems inauthentic to others. Having said this, we all need to send Thank You notes – real, handwritten, heartfelt thank you notes. Do it for your grandmother.


4 responses to “Hallmark and The Missional Church

  1. This blog reminds us that what we do or don’t do are reflections of what’s important to us. For someone from the generation that survived the Great Depression, and probably the first generation after, the idea of spending hard earned money on a greeting card showed that you cared? For modern generations where time is precious the receipt of a thoughtful note is warmly appreciated; a handwritten one even more?

    So perhaps, making the effort to determine what the recipient or sender of a gesture holds dear is more precious still; as well as cross gender/generational/whatever-divides-us?

    Maybe it boils down to communication that tries to understand rather than be understood?

  2. As part of the stewardship campaign this year, the congregation sent three handwritten postcards to all the members. That’s nice and all, but it was obvious that the people writing the post cards were copying from a script, because none of those folks spoke that way. My first thought in getting them was “The printing press was invented for a reason.” My second thought was, “Gee, we have an awful lot of retired people desperately looking for something to do. Why don’t we mobilize them to make a difference in the community?” To me, that’s real stewardship – using the gifts God gave us.

    • Sheryl – may I use your stewardship postcards example for a sermon this Sunday? I’m preaching on 21st Century Stewardship which could easily be about “what not to do” but I’m hoping to include some “to do” as well.

      • Sure. If I can still find one at home (they really made no impact on me), I’ll even scan it and send it to you.

        If you want a better example of stewardship, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago this link on their student portal. I just sent it to my pastor in the hopes that he would share it with council.


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