The Christian Email Signoffs Debate

I would like to raise an issue of critical importance that I have been considering for some time now, and that is the issue of Christian email sign offs. Let me explain.

When it comes to email, Christians tend to fall into two groups. The first group, which includes myself, concludes every email with a simple farewell, such as “thanks” or “sincerely”. The second group tends to conclude every email with a Christian sign off, a biblical John Hancock if you will, such as “blessings” or “grace and peace”. My question is: am I the only Christian who thinks it’s weird to end an email with a benediction?

I think it’s weird for several reasons. First, the benediction ending often doesn’t fit the context. I’ll get emails like:

Yo homey,

You up for getting some wings tonight and watching Monday night football? You better be there or you’re a loser!

Rejoicing in the abundant grace of God,

John

Or, as happened to a friend who asked for help moving (I assume the signoff was automatically inserted):

Hey Eric,

No.

Saved to Serve,

Nick

Second, I don’t talk like that in normal life. I don’t end my phone conversations by saying, “May the blessings of God follow you throughout the day.” People would probably think I’m a bit weird if I did that.

But here’s the thing: I have many godly, reasonably well adjusted friends who use Christian email signoffs. And they don’t think it’s weird. One friend, who I won’t identify other than saying that he is an assistant to C.J. Mahaney and that his name sounds like “Bony Deinke”, concludes his emails with the word “blessings”.

So could somebody give me a definitive ruling on this? Should I be concluding each email in the same fashion that Paul concluded his epistles, or is a simple “thanks” enough?

Comments

  1. says

    I’m afraid there’s a third group: those who react to Christian signoffs by purposely putting a secular one. It’s not quite the same as those who naturally put a regular signoff.

    That said, I’ve occasionally bowed to (perceived) pressure and signed emails to the worship team with a sanctified signoff.

    Anyway, if the content of the email merits it, that’s fine. But I doubt my CFO would be excited if I wished him God’s very best for his life every time I give him a project status update.

    Though come to think of it, saying “thanks” is quite a holy thing – a fruit of the Spirit. Does that me some kind of double agent?

    Thanks,
    Ben

  2. says

    I have often wondered the same thing. I usually just end with "thanks" and sign my name. Although that is sometimes awkward when nothing in the email indicates the need for my gratitude.

    "Hey Lisa,
    What did you think about the Red Sox game last night?
    Thanks,
    Nicole"

    See? Makes no sense. So I end up staring at my computer screen with the cursor blinking and blinking and blinking, just waiting for me to choose an alternate word. It takes a lot longer than it should.

  3. says

    I have come to the conclusion that using a "sanctified" signoff doesn't make you more spiritual and not using one doesn't make you less spiritual. Use what is comfortable and appropriate and don't feel guilty about it either way. And don't make others feel guilty about it either. To do otherwise would be legalism.

    I'm just happy to see that I am not the only one that has struggled with this issue.
    ______________________
    Robert

  4. Chris says

    Mark, I totally agree with the "sent from my iPad/iphone" thing. I try to remember to delete that before sending emails from said devices. I use "Grace and Peace" but sparingly, and normally for more "official" emails. So if I ever ask you to come speak at a Wellspring family retreat again, don't get mad if you see it!

    • Nelly says

      Haha Chris! I saw “wellspring” and knew it was u! I’ve seen u on ur iPhone at church but I assume ur looking at scripture. ;)
      I agree with Stephen Altrogge, I’ve always been conflicted with Christian sign offs so I do neither. I sign off with my name unless something more thoughtful is warranted.
      Thanks for posting this, SA. This is my first time reading this blog and I really enjoyed it!
      Blessings!
      Nelly

  5. Tricia says

    I think you can mix it up depending on the context. Like someone said earlier, work related emails should probably end professionally (i.e. Thanks or sincerely). But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with ending an email containing encouragement and thanks to your ministry team with something like “Many Blessings to You” instead of “Thanks Again.” The important thing is to be sincere.

  6. says

    I thought I was the only one who had this dilemma. Love the conversation it has generated. I do both but mostly just sign my name. Can we over spiritualize? Wonder how Paul would have ended his emails? :)

  7. says

    Wow – how rude am I? Usually I just type my email, hit enter twice and type my name in all lower case. If I am replying, I don't even do that! I just reply and hit send. At work I use "Best" or "Best Regards" for the initial contact.

    With one exception: we are pre-field missionaries, and I usually end our prayer letters with a Christian signoff related to the content of our email: if we are rejoicing because of increased support, I usually say something like, "Because He provides, Chris and Rosalie…." or if we have shared a story of bearing fruit, "In awe of His grace," etc. But, they're prayer letters, and I try to choose one that makes sense for the context of the letter.

  8. dennydaugherty says

    I would say it depends on the context and the recipient. If the context is casual or conversational I may end with a "Thanks" and my name, or if it's part of an ongoing discussion I sometimes leave it out altogether for the sake of brevity.

    If it's more of an official correspondence, I'll put a full signature and either a "Thanks", "Kind Regards", or whatever seems appropriate. Although I have used "In Christ" on occasion which I picked up back in college. It stuck with me because it was brief, subtle, yet very meaningful. Those tend to be the more important and thought-out emails among colleagues in ministry or others close to me. I think using a Christian sign-off is fine, but if it's over-used like anything else it can dilute the meaning.

    By the way, while we're on the topic, I'd like to advocate for using the standard signature delimiter. In case you don't know, it's two dashes followed by a space.


    Denny

  9. says

    There's something to be said for sincerity and genuineness and personalization — especially in a Christian context. We Christians are all too apt to try and impress others with our perceived holiness — whether in speaking, writing, dressing, buying, or you-name-it. We need to encourage our fellow-believers to br real by being real ourselves and showing genuine interest in what God is doing in their lives — and all the more so when interacting with non-believers.

    Keep it simple and real!

    I've been enjoying your tweets and even reading a few blog posts, and appreciate your honesty and approach. I hope God will continue to bless and utilize you in His work of grace!

    Sincerely,

    — Mark 8-)

  10. Sarah says

    I usually just sign off with whatever I'm feeling at the time… usually something like,

    From a very happy person,
    Sarah
    or:
    Feeling extremely sorry for the shocking lack of grammar and construction of this email,
    Sarah
    or: (If I really, really like the receiver of the email)
    I LOVE YOU A MILLION POUNDS OF STARBURSTS,
    Sarah
    or sometimes:
    Humph,
    Sarah

    and sometimes I just say:

    Goodbye forever,

    Sarah

    P.S. It works nicely that way.

  11. says

    At some point I adopted the sign-off "Warmly" to conclude my correspondence with others. I'll add something more Pauline toward the conclusion if the letter warrants it, however, I've found that "Warmly" almost always seems to fit well. It can soften the tone of a letter or affirm genuine affection and is typically acceptable for either gender. Of course, my husband has just informed me (and I agree) that this is a very feminine conclusion to a letter and that "Thanks!" is sufficient for the men-folk.

    So….

    Thanks!

  12. says

    My hubby and I have raised our brows at this a time or two.
    I guess I'm lazy. I usually don't have any signature at the end except my name and sometimes not even that.

  13. lmichellephillips says

    I would say it's personal preference/ conviction/ heart issue all rapped up into one. If you are doing it to impress then it's pointless. If you don't do it simply because you would be embarrassed by what people may think then you should examine your heart (if you are convicted about that). All in all I like what Samuel Dye said about using common sense.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    Laura
    (or for simple emails)
    ~Laura

  14. nicole says

    The most annoying I've seen was from our pastor who decided to put an auto signoff on all of his texts, saying (name changed to protect the innocent.. :)
    Jesus Loves You! Pastor Smith.

    It was awful. If we were in a back and forth conversation, it was always…
    (me) I'm doing the bulletin – what did you want me to put in there about the upcoming missionaries?
    (him) The date they will be here, and where they have been serving will be fine. Jesus Loves You! Pastor Smith.
    (me) And that would be the 17th right?
    (him) Yes. Jesus Loves You! Pastor Smith.
    (me) AM only, or will they be at PM?
    (him) AM. Jesus Loves You! Pastor Smith.
    (me) Got it.
    (him) Thx for all you do. Jesus Loves You! Pastor Smith.

    It was really bad when someone, like my husband, who is a board member, would be having a somewhat serious discussion about church related stuff and while the message is eternal, and very much to the heart, it's not quite … well… it doesn't quite always fit the context of a conversation.
    (him) We are having an issue with a request from one of our congregants and I need to board to weigh in. Jesus Loves You! Pastor Smith.
    or… (him) I'm not sure that so-and-so is quite ready to become a member and won't be participating in the welcome this Sunday. Jesus Loves You! Pastor Smith
    or…(him) Sister Betty was put in the hospital this morning for a potential stroke. Jesus Loves You! Pastor Smith.
    Needless to say, being that he is a good friend of ours, and a very down to earth guy – he got a lot of grief and removed it after only a few short (or maybe rather long…) days…
    But it's the ongoing joke among us – when we might send an uncomfortable message, or just need a good ending, we'll throw it in there as a signoff of our own, being sure to include the Pastor Smith part as well. It's better than an LOL!

  15. Ed Butler says

    I was very fond of Roger Bennett – the great pianist who played 20 years for the Cathedral QT before co-founding Legacy Five. In his last years – he wrote a blog and always signed off…In HIS Grip. I use it on 95% of my personal e-mails.

    In HIS Grip
    Ed

  16. Megan H. says

    Perhaps, if we are aiming for the Pauline approach, we should begin our emails in a similar manner.

    Jane, a servant of God, a member of my local church, and rejoicing in His grace, to Bill, a fellow disicple and brother: Grace and peace to you!

    Do you think we should have cupcakes or cookies at our party on Sat.?
    ….

    That would actually eliminate the benediction. "Grace and Peace, Jane" would be a little redundant.

    Just saying! :)

  17. says

    This is so great! I have thought about the same thing. When I was involved in co-leading a Confirmation class, I felt guilty sometimes by not closing with a Spiritual reference, but none ever sounded right. I just ended with my usual "thanks." It worked much better and was sincere.

    Anyway, really loved this post!

    Thanks,
    Jon

  18. says

    I do not put a "sign off" in my automatic signature. I type it in if I actually am thinking it and meaning and doing it.

    So, often it looks like this …

    —–

    Great to here from you! The Lord Bless You & Keep You, Stephen.

    —–

    Then I will actually pray for the manifest presence of God to shine in your presence so that God might grant peace and that He would be gracious to you.

    By the way, I just finished your book today. Thank you for the simplicity of your statement and reflection upon Christian contentment.

    So, you know I'm praying for you that The Lord Would Bless You & Keep You, Stephen.

    —–
    Jeremiah Fyffe http://bibletogether.com

  19. Sarah says

    I think we should all adopt the apostle John's signoff.

    Dear children, keep yourself from idols,
    Sarah

  20. Bethany says

    This is hilarious because there's a whole section on this in "Younger, Restlesser, Reformeder" (by Ted Kluck & Zach Bartels) that had me dying laughing!! They even get into the five Solas, because if your signoff is in latin, you are that much more spiritual than your friends.

  21. Rhonda says

    I've found it both entertaining and a document of my real life to have a personalized tagline that describes my life at that time. I tend to use it in most manners of communication. It doesn't take long – I just look around and think about what's happening in my home at that time or what's on my mind at that time:

    closing in personal email:

    Rhonda justfoundpurplecrayoninthegrout ellis or..
    Rhonda didmychildreallyjustdial911andthepoliceshowup?AHH ellis

    closing for lettter of recommendation for someone:

    Rhonda you'llbereallypleasedifyouhireSarah.She'sAMAZING ellis
    Rhonda hischaracterisnotonlyawesome:HeisFANTASTICwiththeGUITAR ellis

    and, if nothing comes to mind right away or you need a "safe" closer, you can choose something more generic:

    Rhonda itsureisaBEAUTIFULdayheretoday ellis

  22. Gus says

    Hey Stephen,
    I'm confident that most secularists would also, as you put it, find this "weird". One Muslim girl I corresponded with had a signature along the lines of "Allah requires your submission,". I find signatures such as this, and the ones presented here, a little creepy in that it signifies the depth at which the sender is in the grasp of whatever religion that they invariably were born into. As such, I would advise limiting such signatures to correspondance sent within your particular religous community.
    Cheers,
    Gus

  23. Dirk says

    Finally! Somebody said it! My heart is sincerely warmed and filled with the blessings of grace and peace after reading your post.

    Signing off with a christian benediction is sort of like taking your huge family Bible out on visitation with you. "Here I am, your Super Christian friend! Ready to minister in a moments notice!"

    I think most emails require no salutation or benediction. I mean, you see who its from before you ever open it, right? and if you are prone to maintain the 20th century etiquette rules for communication just write a letter, put it in an envelope, address it, affix some postage and mail it.

    So in a show of solidarity I am not signing off. You can catch my handle at the top of this comment.

    p.s. How 'bout a post on the adult use of emoticons!? haha. :)

  24. says

    Pretty funny post. I think most folks just have an auto-filled reply that may or may not fit the email. “Blessings”, or “God bless”, are nice ways to close an email I think.

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