Where’s the Negativity? A Good Question

David, who describes himself a church planting missionary in Thailand sent me a great question the other day. I figured there would be others interested in the answer, so here it is:

Let me start by saying that I really enjoy your site. I praise the Lord for all I have learned from reading the articles. I was just looking at the “Current Issue of Body Life” and decided to go to the “Letters from Our Readers”. I have an observation and a suggestion that I would like to make.

As I looked over the letters I couldn’t help but notice that EVERYONE had ONLY positive comments to make about the site. But, I was wondering, why don’t you post the negative letters that you receive? One of the things that I really enjoy about the site is the feeling that you are trying to be “honest” in your approach. As a word of constructive criticism please let me say, you make yourself look much less “honest” by not also sharing the letters from folks who are against what this web-site is all about.

Here is my response: Thanks for your email and your input and I do appreciate your perception of what we’re trying to do here and your concern. Let me try to answer you as honestly as I can.

The Letters we use in BodyLife are designed to encourage people on the journey or help them see how others are finding encouragement on the Lifestream site. I have never considered running negative letters there because people I’m want to encourage already hear the negative voices from people around them. That section is really meant to ‘build up’ people with positive encouragement to pursue the work God is already doing in them.

That said, I do not often receive negative email about my site. Most of the negative comments come secondhand and thus they are unusable. The negative comments I do receive directly usually fall into two categories—(1) vitriolic rants by people who are incredibly destructive, and (2) honest questions or struggles with something I’ve written or espoused. Let me tell you how I have handled both of those. I respond personally to the first group, assuming they are someone who has been badly burned by some Christian experience, and with gentleness reach out to their concerns. Most I never hear back from, but occasionally some engage an email conversation that opens some real doors in their heart to see past people’s failures to God’s reality. I don’t consider posting those anywhere because I don’t know who they would help.

I also respond personally to the second group, but if I think their concern would be shared by a number of others, I post that exchange (anonymously, of course) on the blog, with my response to show how I processed it. So that is where you would find the negative comments or struggles with my content. More often, however, differing viewpoints appear in the comment sections of the blog. I do not delete negative responses unless they are intellectually dishonest or resort to false accusations or name-calling. In the 21 months I’ve had the blog I have only deleted one comment due to these concerns.

So the disagreeing dialog is there, it just isn’t in the BodyLife “Sharing the Journey†section, because I want that to be encouraging to others just embarking on this journey. Perhaps that will change in the future, who knows? This is (or better said, I am) a work in progress and what we do here will continue to unfold. Please be assured that I deeply appreciate people who take the time to let me know how we might do this better or more honestly. And those suggestions often shape what I might do in the future.

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8 Comments
  1. wayne denlinger December 14, 2005 at 10:06 pm

    I’m having a little difficulty navigating through your website and thought others might also appreciate an overview of the whole thing. Thank you.

  2. wayne denlinger December 15, 2005 at 1:06 am

    I’m having a little difficulty navigating through your website and thought others might also appreciate an overview of the whole thing. Thank you.

  3. geo December 15, 2005 at 4:42 am

    As I read David’s question I had to think, “What is it he is against here”? It sounded a little like the question the sick person asked the doctor, you know the one?
    Hey Doc I have this “friend” who has a pain right here.
    So David, What is your “friend’s” problem/pain?

    Peace
    Geo

  4. geo December 15, 2005 at 7:42 am

    As I read David’s question I had to think, “What is it he is against here”? It sounded a little like the question the sick person asked the doctor, you know the one?
    Hey Doc I have this “friend” who has a pain right here.
    So David, What is your “friend’s” problem/pain?

    Peace
    Geo

  5. Ron December 15, 2005 at 9:07 am

    Wayne: I am one of those to whom you and your website have become an encouragement to keep pursuing what God is already doing in my life and to keep doing what I understand He wants me to do. Thanks

  6. Ron December 15, 2005 at 12:07 pm

    Wayne: I am one of those to whom you and your website have become an encouragement to keep pursuing what God is already doing in my life and to keep doing what I understand He wants me to do. Thanks

  7. Wayne December 23, 2005 at 2:46 pm

    Wayne,

    The best way to navigate the site is by using the pull-down menu bottons across the header. They will take you completely through the website. There is also a guided tour page at: https://www.lifestream.org/LStour.html

    Hope that helps…

    Wayne

  8. Wayne December 23, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    Wayne,

    The best way to navigate the site is by using the pull-down menu bottons across the header. They will take you completely through the website. There is also a guided tour page at: https://www.lifestream.org/LStour.html

    Hope that helps…

    Wayne

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