The odds are, since I’m writing this in a blog, that I am probably preaching to the choir. I certainly don’t stake any claim as a master Christian blogger or social media maven. Yet, as I become more involved in writing blogs, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, and involving myself in the blog/social media community, I cannot help but think how important blogging is, or could be, for pastors. Of course I realize that I am nowhere even close to being unique in having this sort of epiphany. The power of blogs and other social media platforms is readily apparent.
Blogging, tweeting, and the power of social media should not just be employed by pastors of large churches. Without citing any sort of statistics, If your congregation, home church, life group, etc, is made up people ranging from 16-50 years of age, the odds are that your “tribe” is at least minimally acquainted with technology and social media. I would even venture to guess that a large and growing portion of your congregation has smart phones of some sort. Americans love their gadgets. As a pastor, no matter what size your church, it is irresponsible to not take advantage of the tools available to reach your audience in every way possible; especially since many of the tools are free.
I won’t go so far as to call it a sin if you, as a leader, communicator, or pastor, are not blogging and using social media tools to communicate with your tribe. But, it is food for thought. Sure, you may hate writing, you may have an allergic reaction to technology, you may think that blogging will be the final straw that breaks the pastor’s back. I’m sorry. These don’t qualify as valid excuses anymore. Again, I realize that I’m probably preaching to choir here, but the value of blogging for pastors, communicators, and leaders who are trying to develop and promote a sense of community in a group, cannot be overstated.
In one sense, it is a matter of perception; how one approaches blogging. If one views it as a monthly “pastoral perspective,” it is probably not going to have much value. On the other hand, if a pastor or leader values blogging/social media as a tool for building a positive sense of community within the church/tribe, then members will value it and use it as well.
If you are a pastor or communicator, you may say to yourself “Alec, my schedule is already beyond insane. I don’t have time to try to come-up with interesting content for a church blog on top of everything else I need to do!” I agree. BUT… I don’t think content is going to be your problem. I think the issue will be one of priority. Is it worth your time and effort?
If you are allergic to technology or new software, you still have no excuse. You cannot tell me that if you made it known you are interested in writing a blog that some technology-obsessed young adult or teenager in your congregation wouldn’t jump at the chance to help you. A little vulnerability is a good thing. As a matter of fact, a smart pastor might even target a technologically savvy individual in the congregation who might be ‘drifting’ spiritually as the perfect candidate for the job…enough said. Go ahead, do the research on blogs, blogging, and blogging tools; then create a WordPress blog.
As for coming up with content for you church or ministry blog, here are some thoughts:
1. Use your blog as a “message teaser.” Use your blog as a tool to draw people into your message before you speak. Get them ready. “Soften them up.”
2. Never, Never, Never use your blog as a soap box to address church problems or people in a negative fashion. People will never read your blog again.
3. Use your blog to explore some of the tangents you discover, but won’t have time to explore in your message. You know what I’m talking about. Every pastor or speaker has divergent thoughts that are close but not quite on target for ‘this particular message.’ Discuss the divergent thoughts on your blog. You know you’ll feel better if you get them off your chest.
4. Have fun with your blog. If you are strictly spiritual in your sermon presentation, then let your lighter side come out in your blog. Don’t be afraid to use humor, cynicism, sarcasm or wit in your blog. Your tribe will appreciate the opportunity to see ‘the real you.’
5. Build a sense of community with your congregation by giving them an insider’s view of ‘the process.’ By using your blog as a teaser tool or tangent discussion, before the actual message, your tribe will get begin to get an idea of ‘where you are going’ in your message preparation. They will feel like they are part of the process, and thus be more invested in the message when they hear it. Not to mention, it will keep you honest as a pastor. You won’t be able to procrastinate til the last-minute, and your message will be better for it.
6. Use your blog as an opportunity to ask for illustrations or stories relating to a specific point you want to make. Imagine how cool it would be, as a tribe member, if the pastor used your story to illustrate a particular point in his message. Granted, as leader, you might receive a deluge of emails and stories, but that’s okay. File them topically for later potential usage.
7. Use your blog to discuss cultural issues that you value, but don’t want to discuss from the pulpit. You may not want to lend ‘the weight of the pulpit’ to some topics, but still want to voice your thoughts. Do it in your blog.
8. Link your twitter tweets to your blog so that people will have an excuse to check it all the time for new content. For that matter link pictures, books you like, and other content as well. For small churches, your blog might even become your church web-site. Explore all the plug-in options.
These tips and thoughts, with regard to pastoral or leadership blogging, may or not be helpful to you. Take a look at other blogs. Look at all the topics that are being addressed. How you use your blog is only limited by your creativity and your willingness to think outside the box. Paul was willing to be all things to all people so that he might win some. Don’t be afraid to build bridges.
What do you think? I welcome your thoughts and comments.