Mt Soledad
Welcome to the
Christian Citizenship Council
of San Diego
San Diego
“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

“Email Warriors ”

E-mail, like it or not, curse or blessing, is here to stay.  It can inform many people at the same time, with the same message, with virtually no expense.  To mobilize your church for a work day, share prayer requests, or give a sermon preview – e-mail can be a powerful tool.  It can also educate church members on current cultural or policy issues, mobilize them to pray about pending legislation, and energize many to contact their elected representatives to encourage them to do the right thing.  If used correctly, it can be a very effective organizational tool.  Like any tool, however, it can be harmful if not used in a mature fashion.  The following are some suggestions on how to use this tool within your church so that it doesn’t cause more problems than its worth.

First, work with your pastor or ministry leadership to gain their approval and oversight.  They’ll help you define the purpose of an e-mail alert system and the rules governing use.  It may be purely informative on issues Christians need to know about, or it could mobilize writing or calling campaigns with legislators on pending legislation (good or bad).  Establishing purpose is the key to setting bounds on what will be acceptable uses and types of information allowed.  Since it’s within a church environment, it’s important that everything be done under the authority and oversight of your church leadership.  Remember, a church can exert influence in legislative matters, but taking positions on candidates for elective office can cause legal problems. 

Second, there are many ways information can be distributed: one person selecting or providing everything; a group of people with equal access to both contribute and receive notices; comment boards (e.g. Blogs); group subscriptions to trusted organizations that provide routine information or alerts; or combinations of these.  Choose what comes closest to meeting your purpose.  Remember, to keep people motivated focus on what’s important, not on minor issues.  This helps prevent “spam-fatigue” and keeps people interested.  Also, keep in mind this is only for those willing to be included, so manage your expectations – start small and grow over time.

Third, whatever is posted should reflect an attitude of humility and gentleness towards those that may differ (Rom 14:1-19).  Personal evaluations or attacks on others should be avoided and replaced with facts and reasoned logic so that our personal example will be as Christ-like as possible (Col 4:5-6).  Long treatises, needless repetition, or sounding off on personal “hot button” issues should also be avoided.  These become tiring and quickly ineffective.  Few people have the time to read material in depth and will become turned off to someone grinding on their personal platform.    Remember, our Christian witness and credibility is exposed every time we send something over e-mail.  Always keep the admonition of Col 3:17 in mind: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”

Forth, when forwarding information, use only high credibility sources, organizations or people known to be thorough in their research and analysis.  Reference the source when possible (names, publications, organizations, dates, etc.), this provides credibility and helps preserve your own reputation.  Give talking points or background information if calls or letters are asked for.  Make use of urban legend web sites to check out the truthfulness of some claims if there is some doubt (i.e.  Also, don’t violate any confidences in relaying information, be circumspect at all times, and avoid any hint of gossip or slander (Prov 11:13). 

There’s always potential for someone to abuse any e-mail alert/education system to push a personal agenda, conspiracy theory, or just plain be immature.  Having a good policy outlining rules of participation will go a long way to help maintain an effective tool to mobilize church members to take action on important issues.  If the policy is routinely violated by someone, your ministry leader should be involved to help correct the situation in a pastoral way.  Don’t become discouraged, however, since difficulties provide opportunity to grow and mature together in applying a Biblical worldview to all of life. 

If you’d like a typical church policy statement on using e-mail as described above, just ask.

Frank Kacer
Executive Director, Christian Citizenship Council of San Diego

First published as a Guest Commentary in the March 2007 issue of Good News Etc.