Surely We Can Do Better – We Must

Quick posts are sometimes the bane of blogdom. So, I sat on this yesterday morning. I did not write before the story ran on a local television station. I wanted to hear all of the comments available.

Yesterday I received a call from a local religion news writer about an incident with our state Baptist newsletter. I was pointed to this online piece drawing attention to the matter. If you are bothered by sarcasm and pointed criticism, don’t bother to click the link. Just read on.

First,  the Baptist Messenger is generally considered a religious “newspaper.” But, I contend we have a print media outlet to let us know what is going on with the BGCO and its member churches. In that sense it is a newsletter. Sure there are editorials and reprints from other “news” outlets, but it is really a newsletter. I am good with that. Even the last Editor noted he was fine with being considered a newsletter.

Second, newsletters, like our own church’s, can be perilous. Typographical errors and poor proof reading can really send some into a tailspin, especially if the mistake derails the intent of the piece. I recall sending out a weekly email a few years ago. I begin by typing, “Hello” and the word processor grabbed the first name from the created database. Simple enough. Except on this occasion I left the “o” off of my introduction. You can imagine how quickly that was pointed out to me. I raced to make the correction and offer apologies. Some laughed. Others may not have so much.

The problem in this instance is the error took more than losing the “o.” I have taken a Photoshop course. Quite an amazing program. But, it is not a simple program. It takes work to take letterhead and a seal form one image and put it on another. It is not like merging two written documents in MS Word or Pages. You cannot blame some “merge” feature. I am not suggesting mal-intent. Just noting that a graphic artist knows this is not like “Oops.” We have to do better. Even if it is a newsletter.

Further, the matter leaves a good organization in an uncomfortable juxtaposition. Taking a “Proclamation on Morality” and editing the document to include features foreign to the original is itself, im-moral. The online site for the Baptist Messenger posted a note about the error. They apologized profusely according to the local newspaper. Retractions will come out for the next two weeks. Thankfully this did not occur under the watch of the new Editor who arrives on the scene on August 1.

What really troubles me is that we often have pieces in our newsletter about our convictions on moral issues. We suffered a hit. Frankly, it is an embarrassment to me. Why one senior (in his 70’s) in our church approached me last night prior to Vacation Bible School and noted he saw the story on the local news. He went on to say, “My pastor from days gone by told me that one day we may be embarrassed at the name Baptist.” He shrugged as if to say, “Well this is sure one of those times.”

I am not ready to jump ship over this error. But, I am ready to say, “Surely we can do better.” “Surely we must do better.” Newsletter or not.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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