Frequently Asked Questions About
Pastoral Ministries' E-Newsletters

The Pastor's Weekly Briefing®
The Shepherd's Covenant Encourager™
Pastor to Pastor Alert™

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What is The Pastor's Weekly Briefing?

The Pastor's Weekly Briefing is a complimentary current events e-mail newsletter published each Thursday evening for pastors and other Christian leaders by the Pastoral Ministries department of Focus on the Family.

Created to keep busy pastors up-to-date on the latest issues affecting the family, this weekly newsletter contains current event summaries for use in church bulletins, sermons, newsletters and personal discussions. It also includes brotherly encouragement from H.B. London, challenging commentaries by several experts, suggested resources and a variety of informative features to assist you in being the cultural leader God expects.

As a non-profit organization, Focus on the Family relies entirely upon donations to sustain its various ministries, including The Pastor's Weeking Briefing. If you would like to make a contribution, please call 1-800-A-FAMILY (1-800-232-6459) and mention the code at the bottom of your newsletter (i.e., PEZZXEM) or visit this page.

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What is The Shepherd's Covenant Encourager?

The Shepherd's Covenant is an integrity and accountability commitment that Focus on the Family offers to pastors on a complimentary basis. At its heart is a covenant between the pastor and God, his family, his congregation and an accountability partner. It is based on the acronym G-R-A-C-E.

Among the numerous features of this covenant program is a complimentary weekly e-mail newsletter of encouragement from H.B. London for all Shepherd's Covenant members. The Shepherd's Covenant Encourager

As a non-profit organization, Focus on the Family relies entirely upon donations to sustain its various ministries, including The Shepherd's Covenant Encourager. If you would like to make a contribution, please call 1-800-A-FAMILY (1-800-232-6459) and mention the code at the bottom of your newsletter (i.e., PIZZXENS) or visit this page.

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What is Pastor to Pastor Alert?

Pastor to Pastor Alert is a complimentary e-mail notification that is sent to all P2PA subscribers to let them know that a new edition of our flagship audio series, Pastor to Pastor, is available in an online audio format on the Parsonage.

As a non-profit organization, Focus on the Family relies entirely upon donations to sustain its various ministries, including Pastor to Pastor and Pastor to Pastor Alert. If you would like to make a contribution, please call 1-800-A-FAMILY (1-800-232-6459) and mention the code at the bottom of your newsletter (i.e., PAZZXEP2PA) or visit this page.

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How can I have my name removed from the PWB, SCE or P2PA subscription list?

At the bottom of every issue of PWB, SCE and P2PA, there is a well-marked icon or link to our subscription update form ( This form makes it very easy to remove your name from our subscription list by simply entering your e-mail address in the appropriate section to Unsubscribe.

You may also unsubscribe by visiting the Focus on the Family E-Mail Preferences management system, signing in with your e-mail address, and unchecking the box beside either PWB, SCE or P2PA.

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How can I change the e-mail address at which I receive PWB, SCE or P2PA?

At the bottom of every issue of PWB, SCE and P2PA, there is a well-marked icon or link to our subscription update form ( This form makes it very easy to change the e-mail address you wish to use for your subscription by simply entering the requested information in the appropriate section named Change Address.

For PWB or P2PA, you may also change your e-mail address by visiting the Focus on the Family E-Mail Preferences management system. You will first need to sign in with your new e-mail address and check the box beside the appropriate e-newsletter to subscribe with that address. You will then need to sign in with your old e-mail address and uncheck the box beside either PWB or P2PA to unsubscribe that address.

Please note that, since those who receive SCE must first sign and return a Shepherd's Covenant covenant card, the E-Mail Preferences management system cannot be used to sign up for SCE with a new address and, therefore, cannot be used to both unsubscribe one e-mail address and subscribe a new one. Thus, you must use the subscription update form mentioned above or call 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

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Why don't I receive PWB, SCE or P2PA at my wireless e-mail address? Are some e-mail addresses restricted?

Federal Communications Commission regulations do not permit unauthorized e-mail newsletters to be sent to wireless e-mail domains. This is partly because there is often a cost to the user for each such download. Our distribution service is, therefore, required by law to suppress them. While there is a way of personally authorizing our distributor to send messages to your address, it is very complex and we do not recommend using it. If you use a wireless domain, your easiest solution would be to create a second e-mail address at a free non-wireless domain. You may even be able to forward all incoming messages at that domain to your wireless site.

Our distribution service, SilverPop, currently suppresses all e-mail broadcasts being sent to certain restricted domains and restricted prefixes. Here is the legal explanation of this complex situation that has been provided by SilverPop:

As you probably know, CAN-SPAM required the FCC to create regulations regarding wireless device (e.g., cell phone) messaging. In August 2004, the FCC issued regulations requiring "Express Prior Authorization" to be obtained before commercial messages can be sent to wireless device domains, and made provisions for establishment of a wireless device domain registry.

On February 7, 2005, the FCC released the wireless device domain registry with a surprisingly large number of domains, and mandated 30-day compliance with what amounts to new — and very strict — opt-in rules for those domains. A list of these domains can be found at

According to the ruling, "Express Prior Authorization" may be obtained by oral, written or electronic means. Written authorization must contain the subscriber�s physical signature. Electronic authorization must include a formal, full electronic signature as defined by the Federal E-Sign Act. For all practical purposes, since most individuals do not know how to set up or use a formal electronic signature, this means having the prospective recipient sign and fax in an opt-in.

As a result of this ruling, unless we had received "Express Prior Authorization" from recipients with email addresses in the designated wireless domains, we had to cease all commercial mailings to them by March 9, 2005, or risk substantial fines from the FCC. Therefore, Silverpop began automatically suppressing all email addresses based at the wireless device domains in the FCC registry as of March 8, 2005. This disables all outbound emails to these domains.

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Why am I being advised to add "[email protected]" to my personal address book to authorize delivery?

There are numerous new standards being adopted by the e-mail industry. Many are being established to protect e-mail recipients from spam and other undesired messages. Some are intended to improve and standardize industry efficiency.

It is gradually becoming necessary for anyone receiving repeated or bulk e-mail messages (such as newsletters or any message sent to many recipients at the same time) to include in his personal address book the e-mail address of the sender of each regular message he wants to receive. This is being implemented to place the control of what is authorized and received into the hands of the individual and to block spam. For example, to continue receiving any regular e-mails from Focus on the Family (such as PWB, SCE or P2PA), it will soon be necessary to add "Focus on the Family <[email protected]>" to your address book to authorize your e-mail provider to deliver messages from this address. Doing so now will help prevent any future blockage of newsletter deliveries.

Please also note that if you use a spam-protection service that sends an automatic reply to any "unauthorized" e-mail message requesting a response in order to authorize the sending e-mail address, our site and staff are not able to respond to such messages since the subscription process for our e-newsletters is automated. If you use such a service, you will need to authorize our sending address yourself by manually adding "Focus on the Family <[email protected]>" to your address book or white list.

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I have noticed that PWB often includes links to the Web sites of other organizations, usually as a source for a story itself or for further information on a story. Can I assume that all of these links go to safe, unoffensive Web pages?

No. Such an assumption should not be made. We sometimes provide referrals to and links to other World Wide Web sites from our PWB stories or other Focus on the Family Web sites. Such a link should not be seen as an endorsement, approval or agreement with any information or resources offered at other sites. If in doubt, always check the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address provided in your WWW browser to see if you are on a Focus on the Family-operated site or have moved to another site.

When Focus on the Family provides links or references to other Web sites, no inference or assumption should be made and no representation should be inferred that Focus on the Family is connected with, operates or controls these Web sites. Further, Focus on the Family is not responsible for the content or practices of third party sites that may be linked to our sites.

For more information on Focus on the Family's privacy policies and terms of use, visit

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Can I reproduce and redistribute material in PWB or SCE?

PWB subscribers are authorized to reproduce and redistribute this newsletter in whole or in part without any changes and with full credit citation for non-commercial purposes only. Excerpt credit lines should read, "Taken from the Pastor's Weekly Briefing, [issue date]. Copyright © [year], Focus on the Family."

Mass electronic re-transmissions are prohibited without prior written permission, although forwarding as e-mail to a few friends or colleagues is authorized. Instead of redistributing this newsletter yourself, we recommend encouraging your friends and colleagues to sign up for their own complimentary subscription at

"From My Perspective" commentaries may not be excerpted, reproduced or redistributed without the permission of the individual author. Our permission to use these commentaries does not extend to our subscribers.

SCE subscribers are not authorized to reproduce or redistribute this newsletter without prior written permission. These messages of encouragement are one of the benefits of joining the Shepherd's Covenant and are intended for members only.

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How can I receive PWB, SCE or P2PA in a plain-text format instead of HTML?

Those wishing to receive either of these e-newsletters only in a plain-text format may typically do so by configuring their receiving e-mail software account with this preference. Most modern e-mail software allows the user to designate whether to display HTML or plain text. Instructions for setting up user preferences can be found either under the Help area of the application or by contacting the support department of the Web service provider. New e-mail industry standards will soon place the responsibility for setting such preferences solely on the e-mail receiving software service.

As a result, e-mail distribution service providers (including ours) no longer allow individual subscribers to indicate a format preference (HTML or plain text) that is configured and maintained at the provider. Thus, we are unable to offer this customization on our end.

Microsoft Outlook, one of the most popular e-mail softwares, does allow the user to indicate that they wish to view all messages in plain text. The Help text basically says ...

On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click Preferences. Click E-mail Options, and then select the Read all standard mail in plain text check box. To include messages signed with a digital signature, select the Read all digitally signed mail in plain text check box.

Even Outlook, however, does not yet allow the user to assign a specific text format to mail coming from individual address book accounts.

For what it's worth, most email systems do add a link at the top of each HTML message that reads, "If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view." We have found that clicking on this link will often fix the appearance and allow the HTML version to display properly.

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Since color ink cartridges cost so much, is there a way to print a graphical version of these e-newsletters in black and white?

Over the past five years, color printing has become extremely popular. Even though the cost of printing in color has dropped greatly, however, printing in color can still prove expensive. With this in mind, 90% of all color printer drivers allow the user the option of printing in grayscale (black and white). To select this option for printing our newsletters, follow these steps: (These are standards for Microsoft Windows. Steps for other operating systems will be similar.)

  1. With the document you wish to print displayed, press <CTRL> + <P>.
  2. Select Printer Preferences (Properties for older versions of Windows) from the drop-down menu.
  3. Within the dialog box, select the tab which allows Color, or Quality, or a similar option.
  4. Select the Grayscale or Black and White option, then click on OK. (You may need to click on OK again to close the window.)
  5. Your printer should now print the displayed document in shades of gray. Other documents should continue to print in the default format you have defined using the Printers and Faxes option of your Start menu.

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Why don't any of the links work on my e-mail newsletter in Outlook?

There are a number of possibilities that would cause a problem link this. Our experts have noted the following information:

Microsoft® Outlook has the ability to turn off links on HTML e-mail. Recently, Microsoft delivered a security update which made this option automatic. This means users receiving e-mail which Outlook thinks might be spam, initially view the e-mail with most links turned off. In order to turn links back on, please do the following:

Adding a Specific E-mail Address to the Safe List:

  • Right-click on a link.
  • When the context sensitive menu appears, select "Add this e-mail to the safe senders list."
  • You may also select "turn on links" for a one-time, single e-mail use.

Turning Off Automatic Link Suppression:

  • From the Outlook main screen, select Tools & Options from the Menu Bar.
  • From the Options pop-up window, select the Junk E-mail button.
  • From the Junk E-mail pop-up window, uncheck the "Don’t turn on links …" box — usually located at the bottom of the screen.
  • Select OK.
  • Select OK.

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My e-mail message fonts do not appear to be formatted properly. What would cause this to happen?

Some free e-mail services (Yahoo, Juno, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) do not completely recognize cascading stylesheets (CSS) when they display messages. Since our newsletters are constructed and formatted using a CSS, they will often display awkwardly in some of these free e-mail services. The good news is that this is becoming less and less true as even these services become more sophisticated.

With most of these services, there is an instruction inserted above the newsletter message that reads something like, "If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view." By clicking on this link, a fully formatted version of the newsletter may be displayed. If this option is not available, one of their more deluxe versions should properly recognize stylesheets. You might also consider switching to another e-mail service if the display is too difficult to read.

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My e-mail newsletter has a lot of blank boxes with little Xs in the upper left corner. Is there a way to fix this?

The problem sounds like there is no active Internet connection when the e-mail message is opened. The boxes with the Xs identify where images are supposed to appear. However, to keep the size of the e-mail message file as small as possible, the image locations contain links to where the actual image files are stored on the Internet. As the message is loaded on the screen, the images are found on the Internet and displayed in the document. Therefore, if there is not a current Internet connection active when the message is opened, the link to the image will not work and the box with the X is displayed instead. The solution is to connect to the Internet first, then open the message.

This is also why e-mail services that allow you to download your messages to your local computer, then disconnect from the e-mail site for offline processing (i.e., review, printing and response), will have similar troubles. Without that active Internet connection at the time the message is opened, the software cannot follow the links in an HTML-formatted message (with color, pictures, font variations) to the intended images. The best solution is to use the online or Web mail version of these software services in which the message is viewed and processed while signed on to the Internet. (The standardization of HTML as the normal format used for e-mail today and its subsequent need for an active Internet connection is why nearly all of these download services have been phased out.)

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Why do I not receive my e-mail newsletter some weeks?

The most common reason that an e-mail newsletter occasionally fails to deliver to your mailbox is that the mailbox is full. When your mailbox exceeds the maximum megabytes of storage to which you are allotted, your e-mail service provider will not deliver any additional mail. The sending service provider will be notified of a "soft bounce," indicating the address is valid, but the message is undeliverable. After a few soft bounces, most service providers automatically suppress sending any further messages to that address until they have been notified the address is now ready to receive messages again.

Another major reason that a particular e-newsletter fails to be delivered is that your e-mail service provider may be blocking it because it thinks it is spam. This typically occurs when one message is being received for numerous users of the e-mail service. It can usually be quickly resolved by contacting your e-mail service provider and explaining the problem and expressing your desire to receive this newsletter. We usually try to help in this endeavor by contacting the larger providers and requesting to be "white listed" among those sending messages to their inboxes. To learn more about what you can do, read the information above for the question, "Why am I being advised to add "[email protected]" to my personal address book to authorize delivery?"

Please note that, if your e-mail service provider blocks delivery for several weeks in a row for any reason, our distribution service will assume the e-mail address is no longer valid and will automatically remove, inactivate or suppress your address in our list. This can be corrected by visiting our subscription form ( and using the section to Subscribe once again.

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What are the Pastoral Care Line and the Parsonage (mentioned in the footer of some e-newsletters)?

The Pastoral Care Line (1-877-233-4455) is a toll-free crisis line for members of pastoral families. Our staff of pastors offer a listening ear, a word of understanding advice, a supportive prayer and pertinent referrals and resources.

The Parsonage ( is our Pastoral Ministries Web site, our "Internet home for ministers and their families." It provides lots of material, information and encouragement in support of the personal and family lives of pastors, with even some assistance for their professional and ministerial lives. It is the most complete description of our entire Pastoral Ministries effort.

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Toll-Free Care Line for Pastoral Families: (877) 233-4455       Web Site:

Pastoral Ministries
Focus on the Family
Colorado Springs, CO 80995-7001