I had quite a funny thing happen to me today. Last week I launched with my husband a funny spoof website called New Wineskins Dictionary. I sent the link to a friend saying ‘I thought you might find this amusing’. I got an email back with this single emoticon:
I instantly panicked and thought, because the site is poking gentle fun at the church, that my friend was offended. I was really worried and started planning to take the website down as the last thing my husband and I wanted was for our website to upset anyone – we’ve just made it for a bit of fun.
My husband very sensibly suggested giving the friend a ring. After a hasty prayer I rang the friend. Turns out they meant to convey that they were crying with laughter!
I was so relieved I can’t tell you!
The whole episode has been a really good lesson.
Firstly I was glad that I was willing to shut down the website (despite having got rather excited about it and even bought a domain name) if it upset someone that much. I guess this is trying to live out this advice from St Paul:
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. – Romans 14
The other lesson is that in this world of text based conversation – we send emails, texts, tweets and comments on Facebook walls – the written word can always be interpreted wrongly. If you’re in doubt – pick up the phone or try and meet the person face to face. If I hadn’t made that phone call I’d have been worrying all day and maybe even have deleted the website unnecessarily!
My friends know that I love mucking around online. I do, but I’m learning a lot at the moment about the importance of keeping communication personal when it’s appropriate, and showing I care by picking up the phone or going to visit a friend.
May I never put my own amusement above the needs or feelings of a brother or sister in Christ.
After this incident I wrote a new section on our new website which reads as follows:
The humour on this website is akin to gentle teasing of one’s family. The church has been our home for all of our lives, we love it but there is a lot of humour to be drawn from this unique family! The references on this site do not apply to one single church community but are an amalgam of church experiences from a variety of places over the years. We have loved many buttresses in this time and have even ourselves been a pallium and also done a dowry. We hope this website raises a smile and only increases affection for the wonderful community that is the church.