My name is Bruce and I am a blogger! – Group response, “Hi Bruce.”
There I said it, I am an unapologetic blogger. And not just any blogger, but I am a blogger that also happens to be a quickly aging Presbyterian pastor who is probably not as cool or hip as I once thought I was 😉 Please don’t hold any of this against me.
As one of those folks who’s age allows me to bridge the gap between knowing a time without the internet – gasp! – and experiencing online social networking as a natural part of my life, I feel like I have not just lived the great technological transition of the world, but have been able to be transformed in the midst of it all. THANK YOU JESUS! But I will say that this journey has not been easy, nor is it getting any easier, so I empathize with colleague for whom this whole “Blogging Fad” makes no sense at any level. Still, firmly standing in the “technology is not inherently evil” camp, I say we move forward not with a sense of defensiveness about the role and understanding of technology’s impact on spirituality, the church and our walk with God; but rather a posture of discovery; discovery of how the movement/s and presence of God are made real through the interactions that today’s provides.
One of the ways that I have most strongly experienced this discovery and awakening, not just in my own spiritual well-being, but in my call as pastor, is in the area of blogging. While some who may still not see, understand or acknowledge the power and effect of blogging on the wider culture may resist embracing the role of blogging in the church, I fear that we may be missing out on an opportunity to be a better church. I say this because clearly there is something spiritually life-giving about this whole blogging thing and the church can either embrace that reality or ignore it and run the danger of further missing out on an entire generation of people. I offer a few of the gifts that I think blogging offers to any pastor willing to embrace the possibilities.
But first lets start with a couple of working definitions . . .
spiritual disciplines are those thing we do to acknowledge God in our life and the world and to connect with God both personally and communally; with a hoped for outcome of growing in our understanding of and relationship with God.
pastoral practices are the manifestations of healthy spiritual disciplines that allow us to be effective and in walking with others on their journey of faith.
Like any true blogger, I realize that there are many ways to connect with God and I only offer these observations in the hopes that there may be some a nugget or two that will bring about an exhale or aha. These things may, of course, change and grow with time, but blogging as spiritual practice and pastoral practice holds the following gifts . . .
- DISCIPLINE of time /// blogging offers me a dedicated reflective time to gather my thoughts and reflect on how I have seen (or not seen) God active in my life, the city, the church and the world;
- REFLECTION about god /// blogging allows me to be in conversation with God about my life and journey of faith. Where has God been for/with me, where is God now, where does God hope for me to go? How do I grow into who God intends for me to be?
- COMMUNITY of christ /// blogging and the interactions that blogging encourage makes real this idea of geographic boundary free connectedness of the Body of Christ.
- UNDERSTANDING of faith /// blogging is an unobtrusive offering of ideas and perspectives to the larger community, a kind of open source theologizing where we are given space, time and permission to exchange and debate ideas that lead to personal transformation.
- IMPACT in the world /// blogging allows for the possibility that one small thought, action or response can have rippling transformative effect far beyond our own imagination, ability and control.
- NURTURING of the community /// blogging allows for people to engage with me on their terms and on a platform that is safe and authentic for them. Face-to-face interaction should and does happen, but blogging offers a way to enter into and nurture pastoral relationships with far less “stuff” to get in the way.
- RE-CREATION of the spirit /// blogging brings me joy and on a pretty regular basis, a bout of the giggles. The freedom to be both genuinely deep and meaningful as well as playful and irreverent is one of the best gifts of blog culture. This posture, that is not often visible in public interactions, allows us to see one another as the wonderfully complex creations that we are.
- CONVERSATIONS with God /// blogging is a form of public prayer. Thoughts, complaints, hopes and dreams all offered to God through the voice of the blogging community. And all God’s people say, AMEN.
Now I am sure the list of gifts that blogging brings to one spiritual and pastoral walk is as long as there are bloggers. These are mine and I humbly offer them to the blogosphere.