Over on my 1st Friday: Ask the Moderator posting at Presbyterian Bloggers, Deanna posed the following question that I though I would address here . . .

How do you have the time to read much less respond to all the comments, questions, and e-mails from folks?

Good question, although there is an assumption that I, in fact get to ALL the the comments, questions, and e-mails.  To me making the time for this is held at the same level I make time for other important pastoral tasks.  First foremost I see my online interaction as part of my pastoral ministry as well as a spiritual discipline.  Online interaction is NOT an extra burden or item on my to-do list, but a natural extension of the way I interact with and have experienced the community and the world.  Now this is obviously dictated by the folks that I serve and connect with so everyone’s level of time, affinity and ability to engage will be different.

Basically, I am not sure I give any more time that others might if their context allowed it, more important to understand is the importance I assign this part of my ministry.  Because I feel that this is important, the way I interact online dictates the priorities of of my day and patters of activity.

But since you asked, here are a few ways that I stay connected to folks and just keep up with what’s being talked about.   I have also asked some friends to think about some of these things as well and offer their thoughts.  If you would like to add to it, please feel free!

Still, here are three things that I think you can do to get started.

READ BLOGS . . . Subscribe, read and comment on blogs that touch your heart, spirit and mind.  Think of it as a way to be part of small affinity groups that are passionate about certain things, have great stories to tell and otherwise intrigue you.  The blogging landscape is on one hand pretty complex like any communication medium, but on the other hand, quite simple.  The best thing to do is to use something Google Reader to subscribe to blogs and be able to keep up with their content.  The best way to do this is to start using a readers such as Google Reader.   Robert Austell, pastor in Charlotte, NC offers this explanation of Google reader in his post, Why I Use Google Reader.

START FACEBOOKING . . . Okay, if you have not started using Facebook yet, you really should at least think about it.  I know that not everyone will get into it as much as others, but now about 25% of my eCommunication with the larger church, my presbytery and the church I serve happens via Facebook.  I have posted on Facebook before, but here is a good one from Monte, pastor in Oakland CA, Facebook 101.

START TWITTERING . . . Blogging "light," Twitter allows you to post what you are doing at any particular time, respond to what other folks are doing and generally stay connected throughout the day.  Yes, it seems a bit silly, but from a pastoral perspective, I get to keep up with folks in ways that would have never been able to just a few years before.  Here are a few folks who may help you get a handle on this . . .

Shawn Coons: Twitter 101 or Why do I care what you are doing?
Fritz: those updates to the right, aka twitters
Adam: Signing up for and using Twitter

And for the REALLY ADVENTUROUS . . .

START BLOGGING . . . Sure, most folks think, "no one wants to know what I think" but you would be surprised as there are many folks who want to know what you think.  I firmly believe that EVERYONE has something to offer to the conversation of faith.  Certainly not everything will/should be embraced, but why not offer your voice?  Here are some pastor-types contributions to why they blog.

Jan Edmiston, Why Blog
Carol Howard Merritt, Why Blog
Monte McLain, Why I’m a Blogger
Me, Blogging as pastoral practice and spiritual discipline

If you want to get started, there are plenty of blogging services such as Blogger, Typepad and WordPress as well as Myspace and Facebook.

So there you have it, just a few ways I keep up with folks, interact and otherwise stay "plugged into" this part of the Presbyterian world.  I know it is not for everyone, nor is everyone equipped for such tasks, but if any of it looks interesting, feel free to drop links to your twitter, Facebook and/or blog here and see how you may connect to others.

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