2 comments | Posted: 28 April 07 in Books, by Nathan Smith
I finally got around to reading Blogging Church. I say “finally” because this book’s popularity has exploded, to the point where Amazon actually ran out of copies for awhile. It was authored by Brian Bailey and Terry Storch. Brian leads the web team at FellowshipChurch.com and Terry does the same for LifeChurch.tv. As I am typing this, I just realized that Life Church has recently redesigned, and now uses XHTML 1.0 Strict. I’m glad to see that more mega-churches are realizing the benefits of Web Standards.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand – the book. For those of you who have been blogging for awhile, as you’re reading through this book, you will find many insights which you will agree with already. I think this book would be an ideal gift to a pastor. It masterfully describes the benefits of letting people hear an authentic voice. Much like blogging, the book’s brevity lends to its impact.
This book could probably be read in the course of a single day, but the implications therein are much farther reaching. I have long felt that we as Christians live in a unique part of history. Not since the printing press has there been such a paradigm shift in the way information is presented. Brian and Terry get to the crux of speaking in today’s vernacular – blogs.
Throughout the book, there is an over-arching theme of ongoing community. Even those we might disagree with are still symbiotically related in the myriad of linking across the web. I felt a bit sheepish when Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring.cc was mentioned, because I had some not-so-nice things to say about a previous iteration of their site.
The point was made in the book that once you say something, it’s out there. Sites like Google and the Wayback Machine will archive it permanently. Much like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube, there’s really no way to take it back.
Brian also talks about getting to know bloggers whose sites you read and respect in-person whenever the opportunity may arise. He talks about meeting blogger Robert Scoble, formerly a Microsoft “evangelist,” when he visited the Dallas area. From then on, they formed an ongoing friendship.
I can attest to Brian’s hospitality. Last year, when I was in Dallas for a few days to interview with Geniant, he showed me around Fellowship Church and was even so kind as to have me to his home for dinner with his family. He didn’t have to do that, but such is Brian’s genuine graciousness.
It is that type of realness that exudes from this book. Time and again, the phrase “You can’t be fake” comes up. Blogging is about personal, emotive expressiveness. It is not a sterilized press release, nor is it gospel; simply one person communicating with the world – close friends and passersby alike.
For that reason, it is also at times a double-edged sword. Because there is not necessarily a peer-review process in place, sometimes things can get ugly. This is especially true of blog comments. Automated spam aside, given that type of anonymity, some people are just downright cruel. Inevitably, mean things will be said about your church and/or pastor. Brian cautions against getting all the facts before plunging headlong into the world of blogging. If need be, one can have a blog with comments off, to forego the necessity to police them.
He also cautions the reader to check one’s own motives – meaning, don’t have advertisements on a church blog, because then there is a temptation to write towards what is popular and will yield revenue generating traffic, as opposed to what is relevant to the congregation. Additionally, there is a possibility of unsanctioned ads reflecting badly on your church. It is for that reason that Godbit.com has, and always will be, ad-free.
I could go on and on. The point is, Blogging Church has a great deal to offer by way of primer tips and solid theology. I would recommend it for the pastor who needs convincing about the power of open communication. Additionally, it would make for excellent curriculum in a Christian web or media class. In that same vein, let me also mention Mark Stephenson’s book Web Empower Your Church as an excellent resource. This is an exciting time we live in, and I’m glad to see churches pioneering on the web.
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