My purpose in this section is not to provide a technical “How to . . .” of the mechanics of blogging. Others have done this more ably than I could (For help starting a blog, see Cory Miller’s “I Help Pastors Blog” series available here and Joe Carter’s “How to Start a Blog” series available here.). Instead, I would like to offer here some practical advice regarding the reconciliation of the demands of ministry and blogging. Admittedly, I pastor a small church. But I do have five children under the age of seven! I am also working on a ThM (a research degree) in Church History. I also teach at two Seminary Extension centers hosted by local associations. In other words, I stay busy. How then do I maintain a blog on which I post fairly regularly? The key is to blog out of the overflow. By this I mean that pastors should continue doing whatever they are already doing in their ministry to their local church (provided that it is biblical) and allow their blogs to be an overflow of that ministry. This should come as a great relief to you if you have been trying (or thought you would have to if you blogged) to produce material on a blog that was entirely separate from your ministry in the local church. You don’t have to be clever and creative, just faithful. If you are faithfully serving the congregation where God has placed you, then you are producing material that can be posted on a blog out of the overflow of your ministry with only minor editing.
In creating and maintaining a pastoral blog we want to avoid merely manufacturing another ministry activity. John Piper has warned that ministry can become “its own worst enemy” (Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, 59). Instead, we want to see our blogs as an extension of our Bible saturated local church ministry. I could not blog if I were constantly being forced to come up with fresh material which is divorced from the preparation which I am already doing for my ministry in my local church.
In order to have an overflow, one must first have an inflow. As pastors, we are not self-sufficient. We can’t keep giving out without replenishing ourselves daily by the spiritual disciplines; especially the disciplines of Bible study, prayer and the reading of God-exalting books. What John Piper has confessed of himself is true of all of God’s ministers:
I, for one, am not a self-replenishing spring. My bucket leaks, even when it is not pouring. My spirit does not revive on the run. Without time of unhurried reading and reflection, beyond the press of sermon preparation, my soul shrinks, and the scepter of ministerial death rises. Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation (Ibid., 66).
Does your bucket leak? Then you must constantly be at work refilling it by the practice of the spiritual disciplines (For biblical and practical help on this topic, see Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Discipline for the Christian Life, NavPress, 1991.). As pastors, our primary responsibility is to be devoted “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). The way to have something to say on your blog on Monday, is the same way in which one has something to say on Sunday – the study of God’s Word and prayer!
Your blog should reflect who you are and what you are learning as a Christian and a pastor. For example, if I am reading a biography from church history, then I share an interesting anecdote from the life of the individual that I’m reading about. This helps me to remember these stories and allows others to benefit from my reading. If I’m listening to a new CD that is helping me in my personal worship, then I share the lyrics of songs and links to the artist’s webpage so others can benefit from what is benefiting me. In short, whatever you’re reading, studying, listening to, and enjoying can be translated into material for your blog. In this way you avoid artificiality and instead produce posts that flow naturally out of the overflow of your own life and ministry.
Let me add a word about evangelism on your blog. There should be clear presentations of the gospel on your blog on a regular basis. But these do not have to be synthetic add-ons! If you are doing what you are called to be doing as a pastor, namely doing the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5), then there will naturally be an overflow of evangelism in your blog. Again, the key is to be the kind of pastor which is described in the Pastoral Epistles of 1, 2 Timothy and Titus. Your blog will then simply reflect that same biblical view of ministry.
Tune in tomorrow for the final installment on blogging as a pastor in which I will warn of dangers to avoid.