Marcus has a post about the importance of keeping blogging in its place called “Bible Before Blog.” Here are two quotes from this post with my comments.
(1) “I recently asked a pastor what he thought the big dangers of the internet are for himself and his flock. His answer surprised me: time wasting.”
I have thought this before and it is true for both pastors and people. Who hasn’t sat down intending to check their email and some weather and headlines and found themselves still sitting there a couple hours later having wasted too much time?
I think, however, that has the potential to present a special danger to the pastor. Most churches in America are 85 members or less which means the pastors are often solo and often work alone or with little or no accountability. While pornography is always a danger, the biggest danger is often not pornography, it is simply the internet itself. This is bad for anyone, but for the man entrusted to pray for and preach to his people, every moment he wastes has just sapped valuable time from his calling.
Even blogging, which can be used for good, can be a danger if it detracts from a man’s calling to pray and to read and study God’s Word so he can feed his flock. I try to schedule time for blogging, usually when I’m shifting from one task to another in my “daily swim.” I it use not only to share things with my congregation and readers, but also to help clarify my thoughts on various issues and areas of concern. Sometimes I blog things that I have preached or taught or that people have asked me about, sometimes it works the other way around and the things I have blogged about supplement my teaching and preaching ministry. Either way, when used properly both my congregation and I benefit.
When times are too busy, I make no apology for not updating my blog because my calling is not to blog, but to minister to my flock (Jesus’ flock) by praying for them and preaching to them (or preparing myself to preach to them).
(2) “It is tempting to assume, when surfing and interacting with the best blogs (even this one!), that we are engaged in deeper theological reflection than we actually are. Therefore if we let our blog use take more time than we spend in God’s Word or doing Christian reading there is every danger that we get shallower, even while we think we are receiving good stuff.”
Along with this comes the danger that one will “borrow” someone else’s spirituality and Christian walk. A blog reader may not walk with the Lord on their but they read of another’s spiritual walk and feel as if they are walking with the Lord. The same things happens in church sometimes, people hear their pastor talk of his spiritual struggles and growth and begin to live as if those struggles and the resulting growth were their own. This doesn’t mean you should stop reading blogs (any more than you should stop going to church), but your blog reading should encourage you to go beyond the mere reading of a blog (no matter how good it is) and to seek Christ in His Word. I don’t even have to mention all the weak theology, bad theology, and just plain wackiness that passes for theology that’s on the internet. Just stick to links from blogs and sites you trust (like my links page here).
Here’s Marcus’ closing which addresses both these concerns:
If you more readily read a blog than a book – or the Bible – switch off the computer now and get your Bible off the shelf. Linger over it. Enjoy the presence of God. Turn your reading into worship. Write down what you discover and how God wants you to respond. Don’t rush it. Then, if you have access to one, get a good Christian book off the shelf. Nothing simplistic, go for some deep stuff and linger in that too, letting wise people teach you.
And for those of us who write blogs, let’s acknowledge their limitations as well as all the good things about them. And then do our utmost every time we write to do so with as sparkling a style AND as much depth and weight in the scriptures as we can.