Blogging is the new concept on the internet and it is about to change how preaching is done. If you are not yet familiar with this concept, you soon will be. It is estimated that only about 5% of the population currently blog, but there are some 70,000 new blogs everyday.
Blogs are simple online diaries that provide the opportunity for others to interact with our thoughts and ideas. This can be especially important for the preacher that seeks to bridge the gap between a Sunday morning message and the listeners’ understanding. The cover article on the April 5th issue of Business Week magazine was entitled, “Blogs will change your business.” I believe that statement is true and I would push a little further to state that blogs will change how preaching is done in the future.
With a blog in tow, the preacher will be able to post a sermon idea at the beginning of the week and give the congregation a chance to respond. By Sunday, when he delivers the sermon, many will already be tuned in to the topic. This allows the congregation, as well as other online participants, to be actively engaged in the process and to be able to share their own ideas and thoughts. This can truly be a way to make a sermon topic last much longer than 30 minutes on Sunday morning. In fact, it can be a continual thought and living topic throughout the week. Soon a preacher that does not blog with his congregation will be out of touch and behind the pack.
Let me repeat, blogging will change how preaching is done. There have been very few inventions throughout the history of man that have changed preaching. Preaching will always be here because it has been destined by God as the way He created for His people to know His truths.
However, preaching has changed from time to time throughout history. Such inventions as the printing press, the computer, the internet, and now the blog have changed and will change how preachers preach the message of God. Let me suggest a few ways that blogs will change preaching and sermon preparation.
Bridging the Gap
Preachers will be able to use blogs to bridge the gap between what they think they know about their church members and the issues that their members really have. The preacher has the difficult task of putting together sermons and sermon series that they believe will minister to their congregation. Many times in the past this has been done in isolation or at the mercy of the minister’s discernment. Blogs will enable preachers to interact with their members on sermon ideas and different sermon series and get a real time response to determine if that sermon idea or series idea really has worth and value.
Recently I blogged on my church blog (which you can find at: http://catoctinchristian.blogspot.com/) about an upcoming sermon series on ministering to sexually wounded people. I had a number of responses that were insightful. The responses let me know how people felt about this issue and unearthed a numbers of sexual wounds that I had not planned on discussing but was able to blend into the series based on this valuable input. The point is, the interaction with members before the actual sermon allowed me to push further and dig deeper into the topic.
Get Input Before Sunday
Blogging will enable preachers to weed out bad sermon ideas before they hit the congregation on Sunday. As a speaking consultant I always told my audience that there are three types of speeches or sermons. The first is the speech that we plan, the second is the speech that we actually give, and the third is the speech that we wish we would have given. I know that there has been many Sundays that I have gone back to my seat and felt in the bottom of my heart that I wished I would have given any sermon other than the one that I preached.
Blogging won’t totally eliminate bad sermons from our experience, but it can help eliminate a number of bad ideas before they become sermons. If we are having a good discussion before Sunday, then a preacher will know that this is an engaging topic. If the congregation does not respond, then the preacher can consider that this might be a topic of little interest.
Blogs and blogging will enable the preacher to have built-in accountability. Sermon preparation can be difficult and haunting. Because sermon preparation is difficult, many preachers delay the creating and crafting of their sermon until the last moment possible. If preachers can get into the habit of blogging about their sermon weeks or months before the date of the actual sermon, better preparation can be given and therefore better sermons can be preached. I know as a preacher I need better accountability than just knowing that there is a forthcoming Sunday morning worship service in which I have to speak.
Enhance the Preacher’s Transparency
Blogging will enable members of the church to look into the heart and soul of their preacher. Blogs are really stories. Stories have power; I think that is why the Bible is so full of them. Each preacher has a story to tell. His story is constructed of values, beliefs, and the vision that God has given him for his life and for the members of the church he leads. Blogging is a window into that story. A preacher can elaborate why he is picking the current sermon series, and or how the passage is impacting him personally. He can share as Paul Harvey states, “the rest of the story.”
Too often, sermons live in a vacuum. They are put together in private. They are preached in a short period and then pushed away to be hardly thought about again. This is an area where ministry should and can improve! Much of a preacher’s time is spent in development of a sermon. Sermons should change people, and if nothing else should change the preparer and presenter of it. The implementation of blogs can allow us to see the side of a sermon that is often hidden or hardly noticed unless a person knows the preacher personally.
Blogging enables preachers to prepare better. Recently I created a new blog in which I outlined my sermon series for the entire year. (You can find that blog at http://sermonnote.blogspot.com/.) In this blog I am creating an on-line work space where I can add comments and thoughts on sermon ideas as I find them in my daily and weekly reading. I can receive comments from church members and from others on the web that find this place.
If nothing more, I have created a single place where I can store my ideas on sermons long before I actually begin the writing process. Additionally, with the pertinent sermon points online I can work on my sermon any time I have access to the internet.
Opportunities for Discipling
Blogging will enable preachers to be better disciplers. By interacting with members on a variety of topics, the preacher expands his own growth and development far more than he does from a 30 minute message on Sunday morning which does not elicit a response. Blogging allows the preacher to peal the onion on people’s real beliefs and thoughts about spiritual issues. He will have not only one time to present an idea but multiple times to present and convey the importance of an issue being spoken about.
In essence the preacher only has about 50 ideas on spiritual development to present on Sunday mornings throughout any given year. With holidays and special events that number probably drops to around 40. These ideas should be essential purposes of the Gospel and the Gospel message. The ideas must be wrestled with among believers and followers of Christ.
Due to the demands of time in our present situation and society the preacher has a limited number of interactions with any given member. Translated, our society and time issues deflate modern day discipleship. With the invention of blogs, the preacher has a new venue in which to disciple members to spiritual growth and development. These are online interactions and teaching moments.
Blogs will enable the preacher to work in collaboration with other preachers and church leaders. In the last few years there has been a call for preachers to work with others to create and develop sermons and sermon ideas. Many times this collaboration has been between preachers on the same staff or preachers in the same area. Blogs are now enabling preachers to work on sermon ideas and sermons series on the internet in full view. This is the ultimate in collaboration and I believe it has the potential to bring forth some of the best sermons yet to be preached.
A woman can post her real life story of abuse so that a preacher can use it from her own words rather than using some canned story. A person can give a real time testimony pertaining to an issue. A preacher from across the world can share insights to a verse or passage from another culture’s point of view. Or a person can share recent information that he/she has studied on a particular passage.
Sermons are best when they are personal. They change lives when real stories are communicated by real people with real problems that have found real biblical solutions. The blog will enable us to share such information.
Blogging is a new phenomenon. Convincing your members to get online and interact will not be an easy task. That task will take training and vision casting for a new way of interacting and preaching. Some of your church members will not know what a blog is and some may not even yet be part of the internet phenomenon. They will be hesitant to register to a site and even more hesitate to post their comments and ideas.
At this moment blogs and blogging really belong to the young. But take heart. Just as we bring people along to Christianity in baby steps, we can bring people along with this growing form of communication. We can begin at all levels. And if the preacher can cast a new vision for preaching and for sermon preparation, a vision that includes interaction, experience, and personal development, both he and his members will find a great reward. The greatest reward for the preacher is that he will have buy-in on his sermons and that spiritual maturity has the potential to be greatly increased for all involved.
Ken Gosnellis a pastor and a business and life coach withKensalt Coachingin the DC Metro area.
Preachers that blog
More and more pastors and preachers are among the millions starting blogs. Here are some preacher/ministry blogs you may find of interest:
johnnyleckie.blogspot.com – Johnny Leckie
www.benarment.com/history_in_the_making – Ben Arment
www.kaleobill.com – Bill Streger
www.bradleach.typepad.com – Brad Leach
colossiansthreesixteen.com – Brent Thomas
garylamb.blogspot.com – Gary Lamb
powernotes.blogspot.com – Mark Pryor
tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2006/03/blogs_and_the_e.html – Andrew Jones
anncpittman.blogspot.com – Ann Catherine Pittman
fpcj.blogspot.com – Ligon Duncan
churchplantmyeye.blogspot.com – Tony & Kandy Chimento
daveferguson.typepad.com/daveferguson – Dave Ferguson
williamshin.blogspot.com – William Shin
ccnh.org/interactivesermon – Darin Shaw
www.perrynoble.com – Perry Noble
www.evotional.com – Mark Batterson
theresurgence.com – Marc Driscoll
www.tallywilgis.com – Tally Wilgis
You’ll find additional names and links to preacher blogs at www.bloggingchurch.com, a blog related to a book being developed on blogging as a resource for churches.
Ten reasons why I blog.
by Mark Batterson
#10 Blogging is a form of digital discipleship. Neo-scrolls.
#9 Blogging is the way I share what is happening in my head and my heart.
#8 Blogging is cathartic. It helps me process what I’m thinking and feeling.
#7 Blogging is the way I leave a trail. My kids and grandkids can read it someday.
#6 Blogging is a sermon supplement. Actually, sermons might be a blogging supplment.
#5 Blogging is a way to carry on a conversation with lots of people at the same time.
#4 Blogging is a form of autobiography.
#3 Blogging is one way of capturing the things God is revealing to me.
#2 Blogging helps me remember what God doesn’t want me to forget.
#1 Blogging is a stewardship issue. It’s one way I share what God is teaching me.
I don’t think blogging is for everybody. It has to fit your personality and the rhythm of your life. But I think it is one way of redeeming technology and using it to serve God’s purposes. It is the printing press of the 21st century.
Mark is Lead Pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. You can read his blog at www.evotional.com.