I have often received emails and messages on this network from pastors all over the world inviting me to visit their countries and preach at their churches and events without giving much detail.
They expect me to jump on a plane because they have written to me (which may take 10 minutes to write) and I have to spend thousands of dollars, (to travel to Africa in many cases will cost me about $3,000US for economy flights) disrupting my normal schedule and away from my family, church and income, (I am not paid by a church - I earn my own income) just to do what he has requested.
This invite is then watered down in my mind when I notice that I am one of a large number of people the invite was sent to and I am one of the many CC people on the list. This pastor is taking the approach, 'ask as many as you can, maybe someone will come.'
This does not incline me to even want to reply.
I have found that God does not usually work this way.
God has a divine purpose and He is specific and detailed. I know because I have experienced the goodness and mercies of God when He specifically told me where to go. I find often that such a person has no means or intention of covering my costs and is expecting me in many cases to help cover his costs.
Brothers, because someone lives in a so called, "western. or 'rich' country": do not suppose that they are able or inclined to pay your costs, or even their own. It may be that they can and are willing to (2 different issues) but this matter should be clearly discussed in the invitation along with some other important issues
Therefore I thought it prudent to lay out some suggestions for offering invitations which will help all parties inviolved avoid uncomfortable situations and embarrasment.
If you are inviting preachers to visit your church and country, please be more specific or you may not get an answer to your request or receive a decline.
The following should be covered.
Be clear with the type of meeting, dates and what you are specifically asking them to do. You can always ask for their feedback and suggestions as well
1) We are inviting you to be one of our speakers for our 5-day Revival Meeting from 1-5 Sept.
2) There will be 2 meetings a day and you will be one of 3 guest speakers and we would hope that youi would be able to bring 3 messages along the topic of a revived heart. We will let you know your schedule once you have accepted. We will also arrange for you to speak at our Sunday service on Sept 6 and at another church in the area on that Sunday evening
Explain clearly what you can afford to cover in their costs and if you will remunerate them with a set amount, a love offering or some other form of gratuity.
1) We will pay for your economy class airfare and pick you up at the airport. If you want to bring your wife and any of your church leaders, currently we cannot afford.to do this, they are welcome but would need to make their own arrangements.
2) We will pay for the 3-star hotel accommodation. However if you were to bring your members, we will take care of up to a maximum of 3 rooms. Alternatively we have a church member who has offered accomodation for you (and wife if accompanying) should you prefer this.
3) A love offering will be given to you at the end of the meeting.
Some info on your church and the meeting:
Give a very brief outline of your church history, current attendance, where the meeting is to be held and any other special details, such as combined with other churches etc.
1) Our church is now 7 years old, this is our annual conference which began 3 years ago and we invite the congregations of our 2 sister churches in the area to participate.
2)Currently our church Sunday attendance is around 300 people. For this conference we expect the number will be around 600 people.
3) The meetings will be held in the public town hall which accomodates about 1000 people
I am not suggesting that the examples above are the details you have to make in your invitation just the way to make the invitation. You may not be able to cover air fares or hotels, the point is just be clear about this.
Even with such info, the invited guest will have to pray and seek God if it is His will for them to attend. Keep in mind that many ministers have their travel schedule booked up to a year in advance.
Give plenty of notice.
If you are organizing such an event, you should pray and seek God if it is God’s plan for you to have such a meeting and seek his direction for your guest speakers.
This will often come from those with whom you have established some kind of relationship.
When you write to request (a phone call is often the best way to start this and follow it with a formal written invitation) always address the message to the person by name.
Using terms like "Dear Servant of God" suggests that you have sent the same message to many and weakens the strength of your invitation.
I hope this helps you to be clearer in your communication regarding invitations to your church and/or event and avoid embarrasment for you and your guest.
Acknowledgement to Ps Randy Tan from Singapore for the basis of this information.
Ps Howard Sands preaching at youth Conference in Uganda.
Ps Howard Sands making salvation appeal at village meeting in Tanzania
Ps Howard Sands ministering at rehabilitation centre in Singapore
Ps Howard Sands at church planters training seminar in India
Ps Howard Sands ministering at a healing service in Indonesia.