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A View from Here

Exploring Faith and CommunityMacalester Plymouth United Church

October 15, 2020

Rev. Adam Blons

Are you getting a lot more emails these days? I couldn’t easily find statistics, but I would say my email volume has at least doubled on a daily basis during the pandemic. Along with managing the increase, each communication feels more important as we have fewer ways to communicate directly and connect with one another. Staying connected is so important. But our turn towards email raises the question: What should the role of email be in the life of the church? 
Email is a great tool that makes some things easier, like sharing information, scheduling meetings, and communicating quickly.  Email, however, is not the best way to have a discussion, deal with conflict, or make decisions.  Jesus didn’t imagine a world with email when he said, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20)  But I think he recognized that gathering (actually talking with each other) creates healthy relationships and accomplishes God’s spiritual work in the world. Even though we can’t gather in the usual way right now, we can still make our relationships a priority by connecting in direct ways like phone calls, socially distanced walks and video chats.  Email will continue to be a necessary and important tool, but I don’t think we can build the beloved community just through email. I am trying to keep this in mind as I respond to email while also making time for other kinds of connecting in my day.  The truth is, I just miss talking with you all.  The website Church Tech Today offered suggestions for the use of email in churches, that I adapted slightly:

  • If you are sending confidential or time-sensitive information, use the phone or meet in person. Don’t send or say anything you wouldn’t want to be repeated.
  • Never send an email message when you are angry. Take the time out to cool down and re-read a message before sending it.  Make sure that nothing has been written that may be regretted later.  Calling the person might seem harder, but will be better for the relationship in the long run.
  • Using all uppercase letters in your e-communication is CYBER SHOUTING. As an alternative, use asterisks to emphasize keywords. “We had a *wonderful* dinner last night.”
  • A joking email may seem innocent but it may be insulting to someone else.  
  • Keep it short. If your message requires more than one or two paragraphs it is probably a sign that you should talk with the person.  
  • A congratulatory email or text doesn’t have the same impact as a personal thank you note, no matter how many people you copy on the message. Besides, most people cherish typed or handwritten notes.
  • If you receive an email that was sent to a multitude of people, including yourself, reply only to those who need a response.
  • The tone in a message can be easily misinterpreted. Take the time to make sure your message communicates a tone that can be easily received. The best way to gauge this is to have another person read it before sending it.

I love hearing from you–phone calls, emails, texts, shout outs on Facebook, etc. Keep it coming! I am doing my best to connect with you as well. Our communication is part of how we are building the beloved community.