To those reading these articles on crosswalk, sermoncentral, and churchleaders.com

There is a reason very few who write articles for the various “preacher” online services such as churchleaders.com, sermoncentral.com, and crosswalk.com reply to those who leave comments.

It messes up their day.

Case in point. This morning, I decided to check the replies on an article of mine which one of the above services had sent out recently to 50,000 of their closest friends. There might have been 15 or 20 comments.  Several said things like, “You didn’t give us a remedy” or “You misinterpreted that text” or “You didn’t quote Bonhoeffer” or “What do you have against preachers?”

Ugh.  I hit reply a time or two and left notes. And then regretted it.  It’s so hard not to sound defensive when you are trying to explain why you said one thing and not something else.

That’s what has prompted this.  I’d like to explain a couple of things about these articles and then make a suggestion or two. As always, your comments are welcome at the end. (Whether I will read them or not is another matter. Smiley-face goes here.)

EXPLANATIONS….

1) Most of the articles in those online magazines are lifted in whole from the authors’ websites.  And that’s important.

On my blog, www.joemckeever.com, there must be a thousand or more articles penned over a decade. And sometimes, the online mag will lift one from a couple of years back.

In most cases, this blog was NOT a carefully researched article written for some print publication at the invitation of an editor who then sent a check.  They are rather hastily done, sometimes several a week.  And they are only one aspect of everything the writer has to say on that subject, one sliver of his thinking. (This morning, one person slammed my piece because I didn’t offer remedies for angry pastors. The fact is I was not writing to the pastors; I was telling church members to avoid angry pastors, and search committees how to identify them.)

So, keep this in context. The article may be only one segment of the writer’s thoughts on a particular subject. To get the full range of his views, you’d have to read everything he has said, or at least several of his pieces.

2) In 90 percent of the cases, the writers do not know when the online magazine will pick up an article and run it or which article they will use or if they ever will. (In typing this, for instance, I hope each of them will run it. But I have no idea.  In fact, I don’t even have a contact at most of their offices.  We simply have an agreement, one I gave them a couple of years ago at their request, that they may use any of my stuff at any time.)

And, the writers are not paid for their material. Most of us are just honored that someone thinks we’ve written something worth sharing.

I for one am not writing with “the world in general” as my focus.  I’m not even writing to Christendom in general.  I am a Southern Baptist preacher of fifty-one years experience, and that is my frame of reference. (So, in the article from this morning, when someone criticized my reference to “an African-American woman pastor of a United Methodist church,” by asking if I always give the race and sex of people in my stories,  I replied, “It’s just so unusual.” Now, in many circles, that would not be a rarity. In my world, it’s unique. She is the only African-American woman I ever met who pastors a UMC church.)

SUGGESTIONS.

1) Read these articles looking for helpful insights.

I expect most bloggers/authors do not read the comments because people can be so negative, can criticize what they know so little of, and slam someone whom they have misunderstood.  Reading them would be like self-flagellation. Therefore, my suggestion is this: “Read these articles with a view toward finding anything helpful, period. If there’s nothing helpful in the first one, go on to the next one. But if you read it looking for faults, you will always find them. Always.”

Love does not look for faults. And it also covers a multitude of sins. (I guarantee you some reader will attack those two statements from Scripture.)

There’s not a pastor on the planet who wants church members to listen to their sermons looking for something to criticize. But it would appear that quite a number of preachers open these articles intending to find fault. (Frequently, after reading an article by someone else, I’ll scroll down to the comments. It never ceases to amaze me how people can find something negative about the most inspiring of articles. “You left out this” or “You overstated that” or “you offended this group” or “you clearly do not believe such-and-such a doctrine.”)

2) Leave positive, helpful comments at the end of articles. Or, if you must criticize, try to do so as a brother or sister in Christ.

That’s just basic Christianity and one would think it does not need to be said to people in the Lord’s work.

But it does.

My wife says, “If you can’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it at all.”  A good rule.

Part of the problem is the impersonality and remoteness which the internet fosters.  Since we can leave instant responses, the temptation to do so is overpowering.  Whether doing so was wise is another matter.

So, having let eight hours elapse since I read the harsh comments at the end of my recent article, and after spending two hours in church this morning, I’ve reconsidered and decided not to trash my laptop or take the cyanide pills.

I plan to stay with safe subjects for a time, those which everyone can support and “amen,” such as gun control, abortion rights, Obamacare, and whether preachers should wear blue jeans in the pulpit.

That’s a joke.

 

 

5 thoughts on “To those reading these articles on crosswalk, sermoncentral, and churchleaders.com

  1. Bro. Joe, I have found in my own comments and articles I have written there is always some who either misunderstand what I am saying or totally take it out of the context in which it was written. Sometimes I become angry and defensive but then I just pray that my words will be taken as they are meant and within the context written. I can’t please everyone and in some cases it seems I don’t please anyone. I write as the Lord leads me and in the end He is who I am accountable to. Keep your head up and keep the articles coming. They bless me.

  2. Dr. McKeever,

    Although you’re certainly not Jesus (news flash!), this sounds akin to how the religious leaders of Jesus’ day seemed to dedicate themselves to watching Him closely that they might accuse Him of something (Mark 3:2, John 8:6). As we oftentimes see from situations such as the ones you have noted, the Pharisaical spirit is more prevalent today than we may realize. Regardless of how much good you may do or say, there simply are some people who are watching closely so that they can accuse you of something. On behalf of the multitudes who are blessed by your writings, my prayer is that you won’t be distracted by the naysayers (a.k.a. Pharisees) who find fault with some minute detail or incorrect parsing of a Greek verb and that you will remember that “your words have stood men on their feet” (Job 4:4).

    Write on, my brother, write on!

  3. I read your article, brother, and didn’t find it to be pastor bashing. It may have been the “packaging” and not the article itself that led to the negative reviews. When I first went to the article the first thing to catch my eye was the Satanic looking red picture at the top with a grimacing or evilly grinning man scrawled across his face “ANGRY Beware of Angry Pastors”. You probably had nothing to do with the packaging, but that picture was very insulting. As I read the article I was looking to be slammed because of the packaging. The picture slammed your article before the readers ever did. The article itself seemed to be well balanced, as is most of what you write. As I wrote, I’ve never met an angry pastor. We probably run in different circles. In 16 years of ministry the only “staff” I’ve seen is a Deacon leading music, a “I know it all” Youth Minister, and a building custodian I rarely see. Most of my Churches have been small, and the Deacons usually have more authority to hire and fire people like me than I do over them. I don’t let anger consume me – as the Bible says “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”. All I know to do is just keep preaching God’s Word and loving His people until this Church sends me on my way and God opens a door somewhere else. P.S. When I write articles – or even comments on the articles – I RARELY go back to see who said what. When you do you’re setting yourself up for heartache. Don’t plow looking backward. Plant the seed and let God do with it as He will.

  4. I came to know of your blog through crosswalk.com, and then signed in here directly.

    Found what you were sharing interesting (yes, any piece of writing is always a snapshot of whats on the writers mind at that particular moment. One cannot tell about a person’s life from just one photo snapshot ), and the way you wrote refreshing – its like listening to a friend talk.

    Didn’t know that the articles are usually just lifted off (without u knowing sometimes when) but crosswalk always credits the writers (which is how i found my way here 3 years ago).

    Thank you for sharing, and please continue writing … 🙂

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