SixapartUPDATE: Only because I am one, and am trying to encourage my "peeps" to start blogging here are some Presbyterian Church (USA) clergy bloggers that I like . . . [Presbylist] [Kellyshould be more to come.

Today, on my officially "Unplugged" day off from my church work, I attended the Six Apart Business Blogging Seminar in San Francisco.  I figured it couldn’t hurt to check out what the pros are doing in the ways of blogging.  Turns out the event was quite eye-opening and has further compelled me to better improve the blogging conversations in the the church.  Plus . . . all the cool geeks where there πŸ˜‰

I will get to why I think Pastors need to move blogging up the in their order of modes of communications, let me first give a few highlights of the event . . . there is oh so much still waiting to be regurgitated, so I will try and be succinct.

At my table, folks from: INTEL, ISC Consulting, City of Antioch, HBANC, CMP Healthcare Media and little ole me.  Also at my table a SWEET gift bag!

Chief Evangelist: This was the title of the main speaker for the event, Anil Dash.  He seems to operate at the spokesperson for Six Apart and for good reason.  He was incredibly compelling, one of the most effective and authentic speakers I have heard.  He was not overly enthusiast, just enough to tell that he really loved his job and the products he was supporting. 

Buzz Phrase: Rohit Bhargava  gave us the term "Social Media Optimization"  Good stuff, much churches could learn from his marketing strategies.  You can see the entire presentation on his blog.  You should check out his post "5 Rules of SMO."

So what exactly did I learn while at this business seminar that further convinced me that church leadership should be blogging?  Unlike many business models that we have heard about where the translation to church culture can be difficult, it was telling that much of the information about why business blogging is working AND why business should be using blogging sounding almost church-like.  If I had a nickle every time the word, "Community" or "Relationship" was used, I would have about $5.65, give or take πŸ˜‰  From the conference here are a just a few of the "aha’s" that I had.  These are pretty close to quotes . . .

REASON #1 – "Blogs allow you to connect and share with and who you care about." and "Business is built on relationships." and "Businesses need/deserve to communicate as well as individuals do."  Change out "business" to "church" and it sounds like a pastoral leadership to me.  One part of pastoring for me that has always been central to my call has been to find ways to appropriately engage with and provide guidance to individuals; to provide and live out church-wide spiritual/thought leadership; and to build relationships in the ways that are most effective and appropriate.  And all of this done so the church can move forward and toward all that God hopes it to become.  Blogging, when done well can provide a great vehicle for that kind of influence.

Blogs also create community that is civil and reciprocal.  No wild west flaming, spamming, etc. Authentication and comment moderations creates an atmosphere of trust-building.  The reciprocal nature of blogging also brings in multiple voices to any conversation that happens to spark passionate response . . . again, building and strengthening a sense of community focused on common interests.

REASON #2 – "Blogs reduce obligation, but overcomes inertia." Combined with personal interaction, this mode of communication has much better longterm effects over IM, eMail, VOIP, searches and message boards for a few reasons:

  • Non-interruptive: All the other forms of communication are intrusive, blogs give people choice to read and engage as they want;
  • Permanent: IM and eMail content are temporary and/or easily lost.  Blogs offer the ability for permanence through bookmarking, linking, etc.
  • Butt-moving: Good blogs compel folks to engage.  If the content is rich enough, motived folks will be interacting.

For us ego-pastors, reality of permanence and motivation should be reason enough to engage in blogging.  Our profound words of wisdom (please hear sarcasm) are not just temporarily shared between folks directly engaged in the conversations, but are entered into bookmarked and entered search engines in perpetuity so folks can return again while others may also be exposed for the first time . . . adds a whole other level of weigh to the blogs don’t it?

REASON #3 – "Blogging has changed from EXPERIMENT to STRATEGY."  Seems as though churches are not the only groups of human beings afraid of change.  It was clear that there is a large segment of the business community (mostly web and IT folks) that still sees blogging as an immature, useless group of angry ranting teenagers with nothing to do but deposit useless crap into cyberworld.  And while there is surely a ton of useless ego-driven garbage out there, it was made clear that this mode of communication is incredibly effective in sharing stories, building community and spreading messages.  Seems to be a great deal of resistance by purists who see blogging as trying to take over or replace other types of communications: eMail, Message Boards, Websites, etc. when in fact, blogging is one more way to build networks, some would say even more effective.  Like Website and eMail before that, pastors need to come to the realization that blogging is here to stay!

That’s it for now.  There is still so much more that I am processing from the event but I can honestly say that my own blogging will get a new burst of attention and intentionality. 

For my blogger comrades out there, still thinking about the following issues questions:

  • For us church folks who tend to be generalists, how to build appropriate focus in our blogging?  I have a lot to say about a great many things: technology, church, urban life, pop culture and so on and so on . . . maybe THAT is the problem πŸ˜‰
  • What is the best of the best?  There are so many services out there: readers, bookmarkers, etc. Which ones do we choose to use?  Can be kind of overwhelming . . .
  • How do we integrate the use of Websites, Message Boards, IM, Mailing Lists, eMail etc to most effectively build community?
  • Typepad versus Movable Type . . .

Okay, so now I feel like I’ve just randomly regurgitated 5 hours of seminar.  There will be more later . . . .

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