When I first started this Moderator thing, I was asked a few times about my blog. Was I going to go through it and sanitize the content? Was I going to go back and edit out all of the unwise political statements? For a nano-second, I did think, "Hmmmmm . . . . maybe titling a post, 3 Rules of the Naked Pastor, might not be the wisest thing." I could also have taken out the A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality post because its better not to talk about such things. And who cares about Ramblings when you have nothing else to write about? And the Brain Candy posts, the incessant brain candy.
And the big question, "Do you think blogging will help you get elected?" Ummm No. While blogging may indeed help folks to get to know me and is indeed a manifestation of who I am, blogging for me is an outward expression of who I am as a pastor and person, not a means to an end.
But . . . when it comes to the larger church now and in the future, I think understanding and embracing the nature and culture of the blog – as well as Web 2.0 issues – is vital to the future health and effectiveness of the church.
So for those of you for whom this is all a bit new, welcome my friends to the world of blogging in general and pastoral blogging in particular. I know some of you who are reading this blog may have some experience wandering the land o’ the blog, but for others, you are still getting your bearings in this strange new, and often incomprehensible world called the Blog. Thanks to input from friends, you can read more about the Basics of Bloggin, but I wanted to give a little more insight into why I think blogging is so important for pastoral ministry.
Unlike traditional websites that are made to push information one way – Web 1.0 – blogs are a controlled medium where interaction in encouraged – Web 2.0 – . Bloggers can set the rules for engagement from a free-for-all environment to a rigidly controlled setting. You can let anyone into your blog life or limit it to those with whom you wish to share. The key is that it is interactive and two-way.
Another reason blogs are important is that they are real, or at least should be. It is pretty safe to bet that about 50%-75% of folks who visit Mission Bay Community Church will look at both my general blog as well as the MBCC Group Blog. They do this because, after seeing our effective, but traditional 1.0 website offering, they want to see if we are indeed real people with on-going thoughts, opinions, warts, life experience, etc. Plus, for good or bad, many want to make sure that the pastor is not just some yahoo with good hear. This does not mean that churches that do not have a 2.0 presence do not have tell people about the church and/or the pastor, but there is something about a website that could be 1 day or 1 year old that is different. Traditional websites lack a sense of being up to date and unresponsive to one’s daily life. Effective blogs let folks know that you are deal with life not just from the last time the website was updated, but yesterday, today and probably tomorrow.
From some of the comments I have received about this moderator stand blog, it seems that the church wants us to be wary of this kind of sharing. There are huge fears about what we put out there, what we invite, what can happen. Honestly, I am not sure what we are afraid of other than simply sharing who we are more fully. All the fears can be pretty easily addressed.
Nasty Comments // Don’t allow anonymity and/or have a clear comment policy.
Privacy // My mom used to tell us all the time, "God didn’t raise us to be stupid." If folks want to find you, they can, but just be wise about what you put out there yourself.
Content // This is pretty easy. Don’t publish anything that you would not be willing to share in public.
Retaliation // I think many folks are afraid one’s words will be used against them. "You have the right to remain silent . . ." This is true. The less one puts out there, the less, fodder for the cannon. We can’t control what other people will say or do. We can choose how to engage, how to respond and what we offer to the conversation.
Valid concerns all, but honestly, none of these things has happened at any level that negates the positive aspects of pastoral blogging. People get to know me and the church faster. There is a level of trust already built that makes that initial visit easier. I stay connected to people beyond just Sunday interactions through my blog as well as the many bloggers in our community. So many of the walls and barriers to church that we often put up are simply removed. Most importantly people can be freer to engage with and within the church community about things of life and faith.
And as a pastor to this wonderful group of folks now and to come, I could not ask for anything more than that.
A couple of posts that expand on this whole blogging things: