10 Reasons to Use the Telephone Rather than Email in Ministry

I appreciate email, especially because I can communicate with people around the world at the touch of the “send” button. So, I’m not arguing against using email. I’m simply arguing that there are still good reasons to use the telephone when doing ministry. Here’s why:

  1. The telephone often takes less time. I can usually ask a question and get an answer more rapidly over the phone than I can by typing, sending, receiving, and responding to multiple emails.
  2. A voice can exude passion much more than an email can. If you want to convince someone to join you in a ministry task, you’re more likely to show your fire for the task in a phone call than in an email. Urgency in a voice goes a long way.
  3. Emails can be easily misread. We’ve all spent far too many hours explaining and re-explaining emails that recipients misunderstood. All the emojis in the world can’t take care of what a simple phone call can.
  4. An email can’t always do what ministry requires. An email in a time of grief or anger or questioning or fear might be a start, but it’s seldom the best way to minister to someone who needs to hear a comforting word.
  5. Ministry is about people . . . with names . . . and faces . . . and voices. Frankly, I have friends with whom I communicate often, but whose voice I haven’t heard in years. Even I as write these words, I realize that I’ve been missing a bit of who they are.
  6. A telephone call is almost unexpected now. We’ve become so accustomed to emailing that a phone call catches us off guard. Maybe that’s a reason to use the phone: to show somebody how much he or she matters.
  7. Email can be a ministry copout. Sometimes we use email to avoid the hard work of face-to-face, voice-to-voice confrontation or challenge. That’s more cowardice than effective ministry.
  8. Ministry is incarnational. That means that ministry requires our being present “in the flesh.” I realize that a phone call isn’t fully incarnational, either, but it still requires us to talk to somebody. Even the letters in the Bible were often hand-delivered and read by a person.
  9. Phone calls sometimes allow for dealing with urgent issues more rapidly.  Sure, email is instant, but that assumes the recipient has immediate Internet access. Sometimes it’s just quicker to make a phone call when dealing with a pressing matter.   
  10. Ministry is often about oral communication. Most of us (including me) will continue doing emails, regardless of this post – and I understand that necessity. The more we can actually speak to people and communicate clearly, though, the more we can improve this critical aspect of ministry. Practice – even on the phone – is good.

What are your thoughts? 


  • Allen Baker says:

    I agree Chuck, 100 percent. Long ago after seminary I sent an email out to a church member and came back angry and mad at me, which wasn’t my intention. I have to make a phone call right away to settle our miscommunication. From then on I call my church members always just to avoid another situation like that.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, Allen, for the illustration.

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