email etiquette

I need your help.  I need help your help with email etiquette.

I receive, on average, 100 emails a day. That is not an exaggeration.

For instance, this morning I opened my email box with 103 messages awaiting my perusal.

Mind you, most emails are purely informational.  Less than 10% require a reply.  On average, only 30% are important or beneficial, while the remaining messages are junk.

Email reading can consume a lot of time, can’t it?  That is why I limit my email checking to twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.  If I leave my email box open all day, all I will do is respond to email.

Can I get a witness?

When it is time to study God’s Word, I close my email box.  I also put my phone on “silent mode”.  My time with God is too valuable to be interrupted by email or voice mail.

This is where you come in to the picture.

A good portion of the emails I receive say in the subject line, “You must read this” or ask, “Have you seen this” or state, “I thought of you when I read this.”

For those of you curious, if you think I need to receive, see or read an email, there is a REAL GOOD CHANCE I have already.  I am dead serious.  Fifteen other people thought the same thing and sent it to me last week, last month or last year!

What’s your point, you ask?

My point is: how do I communicate with someone in a gentle, Christlike way that I do not want to read, see or receive anymore of their forwarded emails?

You cannot imagine how many people have included me on their mass mailing list.  I am not talking about junk mail.  I am talking about CrossPointers and others who must do nothing but sit at their computer all day long and forward emails to everyone on their contact list.

Some names in my email box are immediately deleted when I see them.  I don’t even read the email because I know it is going to be junk.  And what bothers me most about that is that there may be an occasion when I do need to read it but I don’t because of all the junk they sent me previously.

I may be coming across as too harsh or too haughty or too mean.  If so, I apologize.   But let it be known I have seen every kind of conspiracy-related, you-aren’t-going-to-believe-this-story, written by a three year-old who once sold cocaine, but is now a born-again preacher, who plays point guard in the NBA, but also makes videos in his spare time, all the while running for president of the United States, just before he dropped out of school, after he having triple by-pass surgery, before he wrote his first song, all the while rescuing an animal off the coast of Maine, as a blind man, with one leg, kind of story.

Again, can I get a witness?

So, what do I do? I await your comments.


11 Responses to “email etiquette”

  1. 2 Searching
    January 28, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Amen Brother!!

    And if I see one more of those emails that seek to manipulate God if I send the email to 10 people I am going to just implode!! LOL

    I so wish I had the consumate answer for you Ryan.
    Perhaps you need to set up a second email account and allow your secretary to monitor one of them and give the second one out in a ministry capacity and not a general email structure. That might allow you to address the more serious and pastoral ones and she can alert you to any of significance in the general account. Another of my pastor friends utilizes this kind of system.
    One idea to consider.


    Soli Deo Gloria!

  2. January 28, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Hahahaha! Wouldn’t you love to meet that 3 year old? WOW. Haha…
    I do not receive that volume of email but can relate to the ‘forward frustration’. I so much more appreciate a brief personal “thinking of you and wanted to let you know” or “today stinks, can you pray for me?” or a simple, genuine, “How are you?” email than the mass mailout variety which, I agree, are time-eaters. I’ve been pondering the same as far as a delicate way to reply so the madness will stop. I care about the people sending and know that that is their way of sharing. It still doesn’t give me any insight into how they’re doing, what’s going on in their life or if there’s something they need from me which is what I’d really rather know.

    Maybe setting up an automated reply under those conditions which politely lets the sender know “The recipient appreciates your desire to share this information but in consideration of your time and his chooses to have this type of message blocked so more valuable energy may be spent on real stories and real people who have the potential of being impacted by the recipient or who may impact the recipient for the better. Any personal email with original information is preferred.” Would that work???

    What Searching said sounds good. Is there a way to keep from receiving any kind of forward? The sender would have to give more thought to what was sent to you by cutting and pasting. What if someone could categorize your emails so you could deal with them compartmentally? There may be times you want to refer to forwarded information but making sure you only have one copy as opposed to 50. Other categories might be staff-personal, staff-admin, congregational care, congregational testimonies by topic, humor, encouragement, etc. ?? That may create more work initially but I’m just thinking out loud of ways to organize what you receive without being harsh to church members who genuinely want to share things with you because you ARE their pastor.

    Is there a way to set up a rejection of duplicate info? “Thanks for forwarding but this information and those similar in content have already reached the recipient”. I don’t want to add work to people who already support and assist you. Streamlining is important for everyone.

    I’m curious also and would like to hear others’ thoughts. Peace on this issue.

  3. 4 Jeff C.
    January 28, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Amen brother, you have a witness here. I was receiving about 200-300 emails per day, with about half of those being FW’s, and the other half being business. One thing that helped me is this. If you are using Microsoft Outlook, you should be able to add any sender address to a junk email list. This would then filter all of the email from one particular person into the junk email folder. You would then need to periodically review the junk email folder for any possible important email from those on the list, most of them will of cours have the subject of FW: Yada Yada Yada, which to me is basically junk. You would then right click within the folder and select “Empty Junk-email folder”. You can add and remove members as you wish from the list. If you have any questions on this feel free to shoot me an email, you are not on my “junk email list”…

  4. 5 Stacy
    January 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    AMEN!!!!! I have told my family and friends many times that I hate chain emails. If you need to tell me something or ask a question, by all means email me. But don’t get your feelings hurt if I don’t respond to the many emails that end with the “if your really my friend,” or “if your a true Christian,” or “if you really love God,” or “if you really love me,” bull. I just want to scream, “You know who I am, how I feel about you, and what I stand for, so do I really need to respond.” Now, some of the “story” emails I received I like; however, I certainly do not receive the volume you do. Searching’s idea is a really good one, I think I would try that or create some rules that send FWD: emails to a different folder. Good Luck!

  5. 6 Kimberly
    January 28, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Well, I have been guilty of emailing you before, but I definitely put lots of thought into the importance of the e-mail topic and only included you if you needed to be “in the know!” I don’t like forwarded e-mails, and I receive tons of e-mails each day, so here is what I did to cut down on the forwards, I simply either sent another e-mail back or made a phone call or the next time I saw the person, I very lovingly said~ my e-mail is sometimes a lifeline so to speak, prayer requests are completely welcomed, your needs are important and I want to here them, I want to be here for you,etc…. however, please help me out, I simply cannot deal with the forwards, it worked wonders!! I will give you an AMEN though on the forwards~ any considerate person will understand when you lovingly ask them to stop, if they don’t stop, block them, I think the above post should also help!!

  6. 7 Searching
    January 29, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Allow me to elaborate just a little on my thinking that an additional email box might be advantageous for you. Now, you can set up your mailbox such that any email with “FW” at the beginning of the subject line is automatically sent to a folder of your choice and that might also work for you. The people who send you all of these emails are in their own way trying to connect with you personally. You are a very charismatic man and people want to be close to you and be thought of as your personal friend. That is hard to do with as many people as I suspect attend CrossPoint and also any others who meet you in various ways in your life. Sending you emails, for most, is like having a conversation with a close friend. They read something that touched them in some way or they feel compelled for some reason to send you whatever it is they are forwarding. You are thought of more as a friend that “the pastor”. Most people want to feel close to the pastor and feel like he knows who they truly are no matter how many other friends they have in church or how many other ministers there are; they still want closeness with the pastor. You come across as a friend to everyone and even with all the people and business in your life and ministry, these people long to be close to you. So I doubt very seriously if asking them not to send what for them is a part of themselves can be done without hurting them. The dual mailbox would allow them to send their messages and you could still maintain a more ministry centered mailbox as well. Just something to consider…

  7. January 29, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Okay,you have helped me. I now have two or three new strategies I am going to implement. I trust you recognized the “tongue-in-cheek” thoughts I communicated. You have to agree, though, the forwarded emails, day after day, by the same individual drives you crazy.

    Once, I did ask someone to kindly remove me from their email list. They called the next day to ask if they had offended me. I assured them I was not offended, just needed a break from their emails.

    While on the subject, our staff discovered the best response to an email pertaining to a prayer request or criticism or complaint or need is NOT with an email reply, but with a phone call or a personal visit. That is a good rule of judgment.

    One more thought: remember once you type and send it, that email message becomes a part of perpetual history.

    Blessings and grace to all

  8. 9 Curious Reader
    January 30, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    When you write comments such as ” I am talking about CrossPointers and others who must do nothing but sit at their computer all day long and forward emails to everyone on their contact list”, do you intend to come across as arrogant and condescending?

    Does this really reflect the heart of a man of God? Why not just delete the email and move on?

  9. 10 Trixie
    January 31, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Curious Reader; apparently you do not know our pastor or know him very well. He is neither arrogant nor condescending. In fact, he is one of the few pastors I have had in my 50+ years (and I have had many) that truly seeks God’s heart and reflects it in many ways.
    Sometimes you have to confront those that are rather annoying to get their attention. And what he said was truth, pure truth.
    Eccl 7:5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
    We have got to learn how to take the rebuke of wise men. It will profit you much.

  10. February 21, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Wow…..They way I look at e-mail is that if people care enought about me to share with me an e-mail, then I feel obligated to at least attempt to read a portion of the e-mail….Unless the e-mail is just a junk e-mail. People matter. And, I think since people matter, the Sick ones are really in need of our attention more than the well ones. Jesus came for the sick, not the well…..People are going to wear on us, tear us down, and weigh us down, I’m so glad that Jesus never hits the delete button.

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