We All Make Mistakes: The Accidental Email

We All Make Mistakes: The Accidental Email

April 16, 2018 by

In celebration of our newest book, You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators by Kelley Hartnett, we’ve been talking about mistakes. Kelley shares one of her mistakes in the book, and rather than being ashamed, our failures are an opportunity to improve.

We asked for your best mistake stories, and we got some whoppers. The five best stories won a copy of Kelley’s book, and we’re going to share those winners.

The Accidental Email

Here’s one of our winners:

We use an online database system for our office. It’s cloud based and houses all of our congregants’ addresses, contact information, social media links, giving statements, service opportunities, etc. As the media and communications director, this system lets me send out church-wide emails (this includes new attendees, one-time visitors, active attendees, and members—so it’s a big list!).

The only people who have access to this system are the church staff and a select few volunteers who have very specific roles. Well… turns out there was a mishap with the security settings for one individual.

This well-meaning individual logs into our system to email our main pastor about his concerns with the layout of our past Sunday service. But instead he accidentally sends this email to every address in our system.

Talk about a communications nightmare: Waking up one morning to a church-wide email that you did not send about things that should not be discussed with literally everyone. Ha ha. -Karlie Pickett

Oh boy. Karlie’s able to laugh at this one, but we can all tell that’s a painful “ha ha” and not exactly an LOL.

That deserves a pep talk.

Thanks for sharing. It takes guts to share your mistakes.

How to Stop the Accidental Email

So how do we make sure the accidental email never happens? Well, much like typos, we have to be vigilant. Here are a few tips to help you avoid these mistakes:

  • Data privacy policy: First and foremost, make sure your church has proper data privacy policies in place. Churches tend to be lax when it comes to data, and that can lead to mistakes and an erosion of trust.
  • Vigilant about vigilantes: Secondly, you need to be vigilant about access. You can’t let just anybody have access, and that means being very guarded about it. Especially when staff or volunteers come and go (a common mistake is to leave access in place for an employee, long after they’re gone). It’s a good idea to have an annual security audit to make sure only the right people have access to important systems.
  • Check it twice: Finally, you always need to double and even triple-check anything that has to do with contacting the entire congregation. In this case, that means double-checking those security settings. It also means double-checking links in your emails and testing everything to make sure it works. It’s awfully embarrassing when you have to send out a follow-up email with a correction (been there).

We All Make Mistakes

In the end, remember that we all make mistakes. And we survive. We get to a point where we can sort of laugh about it. Ha ha, right?

But it does suck in the moment.

We all make mistakes. The best of us learn from them.


Still need a pep talk? Check out You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators. And check out some of our other mistake stories:

Need more help? Our Courageous Storytellers membership site has a number of resources to stop mistakes, including proofing checklists and how to vet proofreaders.

Need a pep talk?

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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