From the Editor

Putting Our Best Feet Forward

Other people’s first impressions of us can be lasting.

Surely I’m not the only one to whom this has happened. I’m driving down a street, past the front door of a Lutheran church building. It’s now late in September, but the signboard out front announces Rally Day. Unless this congregation is unusual, they will already have celebrated the start of the fall Sunday class schedule just after Labor Day.

So why is the signboard out-of-date by half a month? And, what does that communicate to the community?

I recently phoned a congregation to get some needed information. There was nobody available at mid-day (no doubt everyone was at lunch), so I punched my way through the inevitable menu of keypad options, finally reaching the secretary’s desk. I got her voicemail. It was late September, so I was taken aback to hear, “Due to the holiday schedule, our office is closed on Monday, the 6th. Please call us tomorrow, on the 6th.”

This was clearly a message for Labor Day weekend which was, by then, a couple weeks in the past. And I was pretty sure both Monday and Tuesday could not have been the 6th.

I used to work for a synod in a different state. One day, years after coming to Minnesota to serve as editor of Metro Lutheran, I felt a wave of nostalgia washing over me. I decided to cure it by going online and pulling up the Website for the bishop’s office in my former synod. While I’m confident this sort of thing is no longer happening, on that particular August day I discovered announcements for the ‘coming’ synod assembly. The trouble was, I knew for a fact the event had already been held the previous spring.

There were other outdated items on the same Website. For a moment I wondered whether time had frozen in the Buckeye State.

What are we communicating to people who drive by our church buildings, who see our signboards, who go to our Websites, who read our parish newsletters, when we show such carelessness? The Apostle Paul once described carrying the treasure of the Gospel in an earthenware jar. But he didn’t mention using a cracked one, letting the Good News leak out and dribble away.

Lest we beat up on ourselves too unmercifully, let it be known that expensively-produced glossy publications, and highly respected daily newspapers sometimes print gaffes. People like me tend to notice them. But when we have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Great King, let us make every effort to put our best feet forward.