Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Why Blogging is Not The Last Word

There is a tendency in the mind of pioneers that their pioneering ways are the very best and most laudable. Bloggers are no exception. Bloggers love blogging and, please don't be surprised at this, regard blogging as the very best thing since sliced bread. 

Well, sliced bread has its limitations, and so does blogging. 

Blogging is still a reasonably pioneering passtime, more especially in Christian circles. There is a small and ever-increasing circle of Godly Blogglies, but we are a mere soupcon of the expression of the church writ-large. This means that we are either pioneers or a marginal sub-denomination. The jury will remain out on this for some time to come. 

I am one who blogs, lest you hadn't noticed - and so I am one who supports it as a thing and as an expression of something far greater. I have typed many words about the art itself, largely in warm favour, so am writing this post by way of balance. We need balance, you see. 

Until a few years ago, if someone wanted to preach, they had to take a little training, the calling be discerned, recieve a license and given a pulpit (or equivalent) from which to peddle their evangelistic wares. The great and the good would say that this is to ensure that preachers are working with God's calling, not just hobby-horsing. This may have poured into inventive means of creativity as in the example of Baron Soper and his soap-boxing ways. He too was an accredited minister in the Methodist church. Now, of course, anyone with an internet account to thair name can create a blog, type stuff into it, publish it, and have it read by larger crowds than any standard preaching minister could dare hope for. What is the strength of blogging is very much its weakness, as people can (and do) say whatever they jolly well like - and sell it is God-inspired. 

Until a few years, being a priest involved being 'out and about' in the parish, on an aging bicycle, door knocking the parishioners. They would then spend time in their churches offering worship to those who sought it. Now, priesthood is starting to find its outworking on the screen. I sit in the privacy of my house to write - work that eats into 'work time' and not family time - time that perhaps is costing a real person in a real house with a real pastoral issue a visit. Blogging is a wonderful way to get to know people all around the world, but it is perhaps at the cost of some closer to home. 

Once upon a time, priesthood was about meeting people where they were in their lives, taking their hopes and fears on board, and also facing opposition or suspicion at times. This is changed in part for blogging priests - as a gentle gander through many blogs will tell you. On our blogs (this included) we broadly preach to the converted. We are followed by 'friends' who generally agree with our point of view and support us in our work. This is, of course, a good thing - but there is a danger in that. People follow blogs that appeal to them, and they often appeal because they are aggreable to them. In fact and in its terminology, we gain a following of the like-minded and it brings with it a danger borne of a lack of direct challenge or of a lack of having to meet readers where they are. In short, it is about the blogger, not the reader - and if priesthood were about the priest and not the parishioner, it would be a worry!

This is not written with any intention to upset or offend bloggers. I am still glad and proud to be doing this, and appreciate the blogs I follow. I have met some remarkable and good people, and still regard it as a powerful and edgy tool to bring the good news of Christ to life.

1 comment:

  1. You're absolutely right. I found your blog and come back to it regularly because I enjoy and am challenged by what you say. But, I suspect we wouldn't necessarily agree about everything, so in a way you are widening your base. Yes I am a Christian, yes I am a retired minister and yes I have more freedom to say what I think than most. But I hope you get the balance you seek in the more traditional churchy work and the online world. Every Blessing



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