Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate

With apologies to the Captain of Road Prison 36 (Strother Martin) in the movie ‘Cool Hand Luke‘ (1967):

What we’ve got here is… failure to communicate. Some email addresses you just can’t reach … I don’t like it any more than you men.

Yesterday I was asked why I hadn’t attended any youth leadership meetings for the past month or so. My reply was that I didn’t know there any meetings. Their reply was that they sent me emails.

Now before you send me a ‘love note’ about my back-fallen nature, allow me offer some context. Our hip-cool youth pastor is on six week sabbatical, something we bless our ministers with after five years of faithful service. It keeps them fresh, and it reminds us of why we need them — that is, though we have talented volunteers and summer interns, sometimes some things fall between the cracks. In this case, it was email.

Circular Logic

About a month and a half ago, just before our youth pastor went on his sabbatical, we have a serious hardware failure on the webserver. Unfortunately, my personal domain/email account was also on the same physical server, so I couldn’t put in a help request because our hosting service will only accept an emergency request from, you guessed it, my personal domain/email account.

To circumvent this Catch 22, I had to move my personal domain/email account to another webserver; a procedure known in webmaster parlance as changing nameservers. During this time, church staff was instructed to contact me via their personal email accounts.

Once my nameserver change propagated, I was able to resolve the problem … and in the process, create a new one.

Collateral Damage

Because this failure blacked-out several sites for a couple of days, there was a big huge mess to clean up. Which I did, overlooking one very important detail: deleting my old personal domain/email account from the old webserver.

The result was that email sent from redlandbaptist.org to deanpeters.com was getting filed into the proverbial ‘bit-bucket‘ … a binary black hole for those of you who don’t speak pure geek.

So I missed meetings because I truly didn’t get the email. The summer interns couldn’t understand what the deal was because they were sending emails. In other words, what we had here was … a failure to communicate. A problem that was masked by the fact that the pastors were were still contacting via their personal email accounts.

Now, I realize that as a self-proclaimed ‘Sr. Systems Psychic‘ I should have sensed something was amiss when last week I called one of the church administration staff for some calendar information, and she had replied that she had already emailed it to me. Considering this staff member is always on top of things, I should have immediately realized there was a breakdown in the system instead of giving her an alternative email address for a re-transmit.


Granted, while the specifics of the above case are rare, you might want to email a link to this article to your pastor and/or church staff to remind them that email is not foolproof.

In a day and age where many webmasters are jumping between servers, and where a greater number of church members are protecting their email with increasingly stringent spam blocks and filters, that sometimes a phone call may avert a situation where the wrong person is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the meantime, I need to go see if I can recover any of this lost mail to see what I was missing over the past month — once I get this plank removed.

One Comment

  1. This has happened to me… It’s both scary and a pain when you realize people have been trying to contact you for months and you have not recieved any of it.