Yesterday’s post reminded me of a very funny typo from an email I sent out last year. I was working at Cross Timber Community Church and we were getting ready of Venture Quest (our version of VBS). We had close to 1000 kids registered and I was sending an email out to all the parents of the kids, close to 1500 emails.

The email had instructions on what the week would look like, what they should expect and how they could be prepared to have the best experience possible.

I’m smart enough to know that before sending an email out to that many people, I should have the email proofed. So I typed up the email and sent it to my assistant. I emailed the letter to her just as I would everyone else, but in the subject line I said, “hey, will you proof this before I send it out?” My assistant proofed it and sent it back to me. This is usually a good plan as I usually then take out the forwarding mark-up, take out any editing notes and then add all the recipients to the BCC line. Then I hit send. I always include myself in the list so that I know when the email is delivered. Just a few seconds later I was horrified by my error. In my inbox was a an email from my mass mail out with the subject line of “Hey, will you proof this before I send it out?”

A very funny thing happened though. Within an hour, I had at least 20 responses of parents happily offering me suggestions of how I could make the email better. Fortunately there were no typos, so the only suggestions were personal opinions and thoughts. I was getting emails from people I didn’t even know. Certainly there were hundreds of people who were thinking, “Why in the world does this guy want me to proof his emails?”

I was able to resend the email later that day with a humorous response to my faux pas. After this experience a thought occurred to me. Perhaps this mistake could even be used as an intentional strategy. If I’ve got some information that I need a group of leaders of volunteers to really understand and know, I could send them an email or letter asking for there help in suggestions and thoughts. Letting them be a part of the process lets them feel like valued contributors as well as a crystal clear way for me to communicate my thoughts to them as well. I’ll let you know when I try it.