Unsubscribe?

Each week, the first thing I check is UNSUBSCRIBED.

 

Don’t ask me why, but I do; and every week, beginning just minutes after I send out my Meetinghouse material to almost one thousand people, my Report registers at least one UNSUBSCRIBED.

 

Yes, there are hundreds who receive my material, open it, and read it; and each week a few of you respond—with a comment, a question, a recommendation. And I thank you.

 

But the first thing I check is the UNSUBSCRIBED box.

 

There are always email addresses listed. I can’t recall a single week, now numbering almost 50, when there was not at least one UNSUBSCRIBED. Sometimes as many as five or six.

 

I know why this is.

 

When I set up my email distribution system through Mailchimp, I violated one of the basic rules. I created my distribution list by simply dumping every name and email address in my gmail account into the MailChimp AUDIENCE bin. I did this without anybody’s approval; and

 

I suppose I need to apologize to all of you.

 

Of course, if you are reading this you have not UNSUBSCRIBED, not yet, at least; and so, in a sense, you did not mind me adding your address. Thank you for not being irritated by my presumption.

 

But almost one thousand other people have UNSUBSCRIBED. Out of just shy of two thousand. Which means that a little more than half of the people in my personal gmail archive have decided they do not want to read what I write each week.

 

How can that be?

 

Yes, I know: we all receive way too many emails, many of them bringing very good stuff to our attention. But it is still too much. Even I think this. I can’t begin to read all that comes to my email or Facebook feed.

 

I have UNSUBSCRIBED to a few things over the years. I understand why people want to declutter their IN box. But one thousand?

 

And you know who they are? Friends of mine, and former students, and Young Preachers I mentored in the Academy of Preachers. And family! Yes, people I am related to by marriage or blood—they have dumped my weekly contribution to their awareness of what it going on in the world. How can this be?

 

I can tell you how it be.

 

It be humbling.

 

Yes, every week I am humbled by the folk who tell me, politely and directly, I don’t want your stuff anymore.

 

As a preacher, I have endured this before. At the three churches I was pleased to serve as pastor, I had people who came to me to say, “Pastor, what you are giving is not what I am needing. I’m out of here.” Or some version of that message. So, I know what it is to be shut down and shut off.

 

And yes, I know there are other reasons people UNSUBSCRIBE. They have moved and changed email addresses; or they have more than one address and don’t want to get the Meetinghouse twice each week. I get that.

 

And then some people don’t like my progressive/liberal slant on religion and politics. A few have written me to complain first, and when I did not change my tune, they quietly UNSUBSCRIBED.

 

This week two people UNSUBSCRIBED and, thank God, I don’t know either of them. One checked the box, NO LONGER INTERESTED and the other sent this message: INAPPROPRIATE CONTENT. What does that even mean?

 

But why should I care?

 

But I do. I want everybody to read my stuff and like my stuff and pass it on to their friends with a recommendation like, “This is great! You must subscribe!”

 

But, alas, that is not what happens. And I can’t blame it on the divisions in our country or church—this was happening to me way back when there were fewer divisions or when we were more accommodating of people who thought different, felt different, voted different.

 

I appreciate my readers, and each week about three hundred of you open The Meetinghouse and at least take a look at what I am sending out. Many of you open one or two or six or seven pages on the web site. A few weeks ago, somebody (and I know your name!) opened 50 pages!

 

I know because the same Mailchimp analytics that tell me about those who UNSUBSCRIBE also tell me who opens and reads what and when. Right below the UNSUBSCRIBED box is the list of the five people who have opened the most Meetinghouse pages that particular week. If your name has appeared on that list more than twice, I have entered you into the drawing that will accompany the reading of my will.

 

But not all the cleverness of modern technology can protect me from that tinge of disappointment that comes each week when somebody dumps The Meetinghouse.

 

Here is the way I look at it. More than most I need that weekly dose of humility, that regular reminder that I am not all that as a thinker and writer. That’s ok, I suppose. “Let no person think of himself more highly than he ought,” Paul wrote a long time ago, and this weekly exercise helps me obey that gospel command.

 

Another way in which “all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to God’s purpose.” And I think my writing ministry each week is God’s purpose for me at this time in my life. So I keep at it in spite of the weekly dose of UNSUBSCRIBED.

 

copyright 2019 Dwight A. Moody