This post is part two of a four part series on blogging and pastoral ministry. Part one is available here.
So, why should you, as a pastor, have a blog? Whether you know it or not, Hugh Hewitt has already answered the question for you! In his New York Times Bestseller Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World, Hewitt unambiguously states, “If you are a leader, then you ought to be blogging, and the folks you lead ought to be reading that blog.” (p. 124). Hewitt argues convincingly in his book that we are living in a pivotal time in the history of communication. It is a time most comparable to the period immediately preceding the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. “The sixteenth and twenty-first centuries share a dramatic element in common – the birth of a revolution in communication technology.”(Ibid., 47). The communication revolution caused by the invention of the printing press resulted in changes that continue to effect life in the Western world today. Hewitt believes that the rise of the blogosphere is a similar phenomenon in our lifetimes today. Now, as never before, individuals have the ability to allow their voices to be heard through this electronic media to people all over the world. It is important for pastors who will faithfully and uncompromisingly stand on the truths of God’s Word to let their voices be heard here as well.
In addition to the “big picture” reason given above, blogging also provides several benefits to you personally, pastorally and practically. Since you’re already reading this post, you may not need to be convinced of the benefits of blogging. But just in case there are any doubters reading, let me outline for you a few of the benefits of blogging as a pastor.
First, the blog is a great outlet for material discovered during the week. Much of what we read and study during our personal devotional reading, recreational activities and even our sermon preparation never makes it into the body of our sermon on Sunday. Some of this material would be edifying to the members of our congregation and to other believers around the world. The blog provides an outlet for that great quote which you came across in your reading, the story of God’s providence at work in the life of your family, or some contemporary news story which you believe deserves the attention of Christians. When I began blogging, this was one of the main reasons that I began to blog. I was already emailing my friends with links to news stories, movie reviews, and great quotes from my reading. I saw the blog as an opportunity to post this material for my own benefit (as a personal catalog of material of interest to me) and for the benefit of others. No matter how odd you might think yourself to be, there are many other people “out there” with similar interests as you. If you blog it, they will come.
A second benefit to blogging is related to the first: to provide a model for thinking from a Christian Worldview. The people in your congregation are reading, hearing or watching the same news stories that you are. They are watching the television shows and movies that you are watching or reading about. They are listening to music which you have read a review of in WORLD magazine. What they are missing is a framework for thinking about news, television, movies and music from a Christian perspective. Through your blog you can help fill this void in the lives of others. By thinking as a Christian yourself about the culture in which you and your church members live, and then providing thoughtful analysis about that culture; you can help other believers to learn how to think as a Christian about their lives in this world.
A third benefit of blogging as the pastor of a church is the opportunity that this provides to give more facts, sources, links, etc. for material referenced in the church during a sermon. A pastor can provide his sermon manuscript or outline for members who want to study more closely the Scripture passage on which that week’s sermon was based. In this sermon manuscript there can be hyperlinks or bibliographical references for the sources of quotations or illustrations. When the movie based on The Da Vinci Code came out , not only did I address the historical, scriptural and theological issues in one of our services; I also posted links online to articles by those who had researched the topic more thoroughly. Likewise, when the Gospel of Judas was released, I taught on the subject one Wednesday night, posted my notes online, and provided links to other resources from reputable ministries online.
A fourth benefit of maintaining a blog as a pastor is the discipline of expressing ideas in understandable ways. If you’re going to blog, you must write in such a way as can be understood by the average reader who might stumble across your blog. The discipline of thinking this way when preparing material for your church (which you know will also be used on your blog) will not only increase your ability to communicate in the pulpit on Sunday, but also around the world 24/7 on the worldwide web.
A fifth benefit of a pastor’s blog is the opportunity to expand one’s ministry. I pastor a small rural church in a city in East Tennessee with over fifty Protestant churches. There are less than a hundred people in my church on any given Sunday morning. I’ve often thought of how just ten years ago (before the first blog appeared in 1999) it would have been possible to have served this church faithfully for my entire life without ever having been heard of outside of Loudon County (which would have been just fine). But through this blog, I have been able to minister God’s Word to people across the United States and all around the world. It is humbling to look at my Site Meter and see the number of people who visit my blog, along with their respective locations. The blogosphere offers a tremendous opportunity for ministry to any pastor with a computer and internet access.
Now that you’re convinced of the benefits of blogging as a pastor, in tomorrow’s post we’ll consider the practical questions of how and what to blog.