This post was published as an article in the “Connections” magazine which is a periodical put out by the Western Ontario District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (with whom I hold my credentials). I publish a regular column for this magazine called “Tech Pass”. If you are visiting this post from that article please leave a comment at the end!
Hopefully by now, most of you reading this post have heard the term blog and have some idea of what it is. If not, then its time to get away from the monastery for a bit
The simplest definition of a blog is that it is a place on the internet where an individual publishes their thoughts. When blogging first started it was viewed as the online scribbling of people with too much time on their hands people writing about what they eat for lunch or their cat, Scratchy. However, blogging has become a journalistic phenomenon worldwide that is even beginning to overtake printed media and large news organizations as the purveyor of ideas, news reports, and articles.
A big reason for the prolific spread of blogs is that they put the power of publishing in the hands of anyone within reach of a computer and internet access and make it as easy as sending an email.
To expand on the definition I gave of a blog above, a blog is a regularly updated website with content organized by date and the most recent post on top. The typical blog contains short paragraphs or posts on various topics, with links to other blogs and online conversations. Readers are usually able to add comments. Most blogs make it easy to stay up-to-date by allowing you to subscribe and receive updates and changes as they are made (see the .rss article I wrote in previous edition of TechPass).
I decided to take the space in this TechPass column to write a little bit about why I think its a good idea for your church (and pastor[s]!) to have a blog:
Reasons to have a blog:
1. Blogs help establish a sense of community.
Especially among the younger generation. Of course this sense of community doesnt happen overnight but when the blog is contributed to regularly, and the readership base grows, that sense of community begins to follow.
Of course, community as pursued in the church isnt something that will happen just because you have a blog! But what it does do is supplement what people hear in the pulpit and experience through the week. It helps to personalize and define the community you are trying to create as you communicate with your blog.
2. Blogs give you a world-wide presence
The internet has global reach. It is entirely possible to create connections with believers and non-believers all over the world that would never have been created otherwise when you and/or your church blog.
3. Blogs are interactive
Blogs provide an opportunity for people to comment on what is posted and in this way conversations can be carried out that might not take place in other environments. Readers can give feedback and the comments and conversation could even provide the ideas for future ministry!
4. Blogs are EASY and FREE form of publishing.
and they help to develop your communication skills (i.e. writing/speaking).
5. Blogs can aid discipleship and conversion.
They can continue the teaching begun on Sunday. This is a biggie. As a pastor there have been times where 80% of the research going into the sermon for a service doesnt make the cut for what I actually preach. Blogging provides an outlet for that extra research and can help people go deeper into what they heard on a Sunday.
Not only that but the conversations that take place on your blog (via the posts you make and the comments that follow) might even be instrumental in providing the extra nudge for someone to put faith in Christ.
A blog is also an incredible way of communicating your vision as a church. Rather than just a static page stating what the churchs vision is a blog provides the opportunity for continually emphasizing and sharing that vision in various articles communicating the ideas, the testimonies, and the stories of that vision unfolding in your church.
6. Blogs can introduce searching people to your church.
More and more people are using the internet to check out churches before they attend. A blog can give those searching people an opportunity to learn a bit about the uniqueness of your church and this is a biggie if the churchs pastor blogs, people will get a chance to know his/her heart before they hear his/her voice. A blog provides the opportunity to introduce yourself to people who havent even come through the door yet.
7. Blogs can communicate the continuing story (that people sometimes dont hear).
One of the realities of being in leadership at a church is that you see and hear way more than what most of the congregation sees and hears. Some of that is good, and some of that is bad. However, a blog gives a venue for you to share some of that behind the scenes stuff. Sometimes, even sharing the bad (in a good way) can help illustrate the truth that really the church (or you as a pastor) isnt perfect (sorry to burst your bubble) but God is so when GOOD stuff happens it becomes readily apparent that it really IS God who made it possible!
Dangers to be aware of:
I believe every church should have some sort of blog. However, there are some cautions that should be acknowledged:
1. Your blog shouldnt be your only means of connecting with people.
This applies especially to pastors. Dont think just because you are writing about something and publishing it to your blog that people are getting it. Even among the people who read what you wrote, most of them wont get it. What you write must complement what you live. Youve still got to work on investing in relationships.
2. Once its published its forever on the internet be careful what you write!!
Make sure you reread what you wrote before publishing. Let me repeat: make sure you reread what you wrote before publishing. Its that important. Once you publish to your blog it is now live to the world and WILL even persist if you delete or edit your post later. The reality is that people who subscribe to your blog feed (automatically offered on every free blog software) will see what you publish almost immediately. Search engines will read the new post and a cached snapshot will be saved on their servers (so even if you delete the post it will still show up in search results). A good question to ask before posting is, Would I say what Im writing in front of the Deacons? Well, you know what I mean (wink).
3. Can be a time waster.
Make sure you balance carefully how much time you spend in crafting that blog post against the other things that you do. Is it worth a time investment? I believe yes. BUT, and this is a big but, it isnt worth investing most of your time. The best thing to do is get into the habit of just posting drips – short paragraphs of insight on a frequent basis that challenge your readers, give insight to your thoughts (or your church), and ask questions that encourage conversation.
How to get started:
The best way for your church to do blogging is to have it integrated with your church website. Of course, this may not always be possible. In those cases you can link from your church website to one of these free online places to host your blog:
- WordPress.com (or the self-hosted version, WordPress.org) ** This is what I use and strongly recommend it! [free]
- Blogger.com blogging provided by Google [free]
- TypePad.com [not free] or you can download the open source version to host on your own server (moveabletype.org)
Blogs to check out:
To see how others are doing it heres a few blogs you can check out.
http://blog.marshillchurch.org/ (Mars Hill Church Blog)
http://www.newspring.cc/blog (NewSpring Church Blog)
http://perrynoble.com (NewSpring Lead Pastors blog Perry Noble)
http://waterlooassembly.org/wpa-newsposts/ – (Waterloo Pentecostal Assembly Blog – this is the church I pastor at weve still got a ways to go but at least its a start!)
http://revkevinrogers.blogspot.com/ – Kevin Rogers Blog (pastors NewSong Church in Windsor, Ont)
I wish I could have included more churches/pastors from our district with blogs but none have entered my radar if you know of any leave a comment below with a link to their blog!! Id love to add some more Canadian Christian bloggers to my feed reader if I get enough new interesting links Ill make sure its get published in some format!
Till next time
Some free resource links
- http://www.blanksheetmusic.net/ – great website for quickly designing and printing off blank sheet music templates for all your music writing needs (Worship Team resource)
- http://sumopaint.com free online image editing software (its amazing what kind of image editing you can do via this website).
- http://photl.com/ – free stock photography
- http://faxzero.com/ – use this to fax something for free anywhere in Canada or the US while on the road or when your fax machine is down (now really you still fax stuff?).