a failure report from cccc
A jagged arrow hitting the ground like lightning. Used with Permission.

Well don’t that beat all!

I just wrote about producing failure reports, like Engineers Without Borders does. And I said it’s a great idea for ministries to be real with their donors and admit not only what they’ve done well, but also what they’ve done that crashed and burned. The idea is to show what has been learned from failure.

Of course, as I wrote the post, I was thinking mostly in terms of what other ministries would write about, although I admit that we’ve learned a few things from experience at CCCC too. We should be accountable to our members just as they are accountable to their donors. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander and all that. Right?

So picture this. You are in front of a target with a bow and arrow. With the arrow between your fingers, you pull the string taut, your fingertips turn white, and you say, “Ready, aim, fire!”

And you let that string sing. Twang! The arrow’s away and you watch it arc through the air to the intended target. And then that moment of awful realization, when your stomach goes tight and your heart jumps out of the way. The arrow has landed, but far away from the bulls-eye you had in mind.

An off-target arrow
An arrow that hit near the outer edge of a target. Used with permission.

That’s what I felt yesterday.

So now I have a failure report from CCCC. There’s no getting ’round it. Time to ‘fess up.

Here is a story of ‘reckage, rebuke, restitution, and redemption.

  • ‘Reckage
    • Each month we email a different selection of our members telling them that we will pray for their ministry this month at staff meetings. They can send me a prayer request if they want specific prayer.
    • The idea is that my email address goes in the “To” field and theirs go in the “Bcc” field. Can you see what’s coming?
    • Their emails go in the “To” field. Hit “send.” Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?
    • Many people reply to me, and to me alone. Can you feel the other shoe falling yet?
    • A fair number of people gamely send their prayer requests using “reply all.” If you are like me, at this point you are about to be sick! I know what I have to do to make things right and I lay out an action plan for when I get back to Canada the next day.
  • Rebuke
    • About a dozen people send me emails essentially saying “What do you think you are doing? PLEASE don’t put my email address in the “To” field!!!!!” One particularly blunt and directive email stands out. Once back in Canada, a phone call comes in that repeats and augments this email’s message to be sure I really get it.
    • I’m now feeling really, really sick about the whole episode.
  • Restitution
    • The mailing list is recreated and out it goes: an apology for the error, a request to use “reply” and not “reply all,” and a reminder to delete the email and not use the email addresses for anything.
  • Redemption
    • Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
    • The Holy Spirit is at work and one by one, the responses start trickling in through the afternoon. The best part of all was that God left one special message right to the end, so that I would have a good out-loud laugh just before heading home. God is good. And his sense of humour is alive and well.

Here are the messages I received throughout the afternoon:

  • No worries. It has been a non-issue for me and I have enjoyed that people have used reply all and that I have been able to share in the prayer requests.
  • You’re a kind man to correct the group-hugging 🙂
  • John, I noticed the over site but as the requests began coming in I was encouraged to join in agreement with any and all who saw them. Be at peace, my brother.
  • Although it may have been an error – I have enjoyed hearing what others are doing and I have been praying for each request as it comes through.  For me, at least, it has been a great mistake.
  • No problems; I have no time to read the other emails. Ha ha! Thanks for the reminders though.
  • Most appreciate your efforts. no worries from my end. Praying for you, as well.
  • No problem, John! Warm blessings to you!
  • Just wanted you to know that I appreciate your dilemma! Just know that I’m sure everyone knows that we all make mistakes. And here’s one positive that came from this…I found that it was actually cool to hear of some of the prayer needs for the other ministries! Thanks for all that you and your team do – it is greatly appreciated.
  • I just wanted you to know that I have deleted the original and all responses relative to your e-mail indicating that at CCCC you pray for the member ministries. I do appreciate the fact that you remember us before the Lord in this way.
  • Thank you John. I really do appreciate your last two emails following up on privacy concerns. Take care. A breath of fresh air…none of us are exempt from “messing up.” it’s the nature of who we are and He will use this for His good purposes…your heart is in the right place. His peace to you and yours.
  • I realized what happened, but it was nice to see some of the requests being shared with everyone.
  • Nuts. I was just going to advertise my used car to that whole list.  😉 God bless.

Thank you Lord. I get it. And, to all and sundry who receive emails from us, we at CCCC take to heart the difference between To: and Bcc:

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