I blog. Therefore, I am.
Well, that seems to be the new mantra for the net-literati, anyway. And I am no exception. I blog daily, sometimes twice a day. I have even gotten past the point of caring if anyone even reads my blog. I just like to write. Why? Well, I think I blog in part to validate my own existence. I use it as a sign of my life on this earth. And you know what? From my vantage point it seems the modern church is right there with me.
Churches are using the blog-medium as a way to network the church community through the week and the number of sites that boast discussion boards is growing like mad—but is it always helpful? I say all of this to ask but one question? What is the role of the blog in the modern church? How does it function and how should it function?
As I see it, the advent of the blog was not intended to become a
replacement for anything pre-existing. It was, rather, a way of
enhancing communication on a broader scale. It was a way to share pictures of the new apartment, send shout-outs to your friends half a world away and let people know about the band you heard last night. Somewhere along the journey the blog seemed to morph.
Bloggers began leaving anonymous quotes and posting pictures of explicit material and spreading rumors at cyber-speeds. Within the church, the community blog can easily become a haven for Monday-morning preachers and bitter people on the churches injured-reserve list. I have to admit, I fell into that trap, too. I started to use my site to openly point out shortcomings of doctrines, belief systems and socio-political agendas. I was typing poison into the minds of my readers. But something was missing. The spirit with which I began my blog was dying. I no longer felt like I was part of a community but that I was rather a lone voice in a world full of white noise.
Like the church itself, the spiritual blog is not primarily about personal improvement (even spiritual improvement) but covenantal faithfulness. It’s about a group of people, separated by distance, yet brought together by the Holy Spirit to live out the covenant of God. It is to promote conversation and debate so that we can all better reflect the life and presence of God in our midst. Even amidst the brokenness and spiritual frailty that drove many of us to cyberspace to begin with.
As 1 Corinthians 12:12 points out, when we join a church we don’t "align with an institution," but become "members of one another." And so it should be with the church blog. And when the "body of Christ" lives together as a healthy body—as in Ephesians 4—under the "head" Christ, all members are strengthened, and God is glorified. The church blog or the spiritual blog should be a place where we don’t just come away stronger but also come away with a clearer sense of God.
By default the blogosphere can easily turn into a haven for church criticism, gossip and disgruntled pew-warmers. And, there seems to be a disparaging lack of civility, even among Christians, when it comes to blogging. The church blog should be a home for stories of-and-from life where we can learn from others and share our experiences—a place for redemptive journeying. Although, redeeming the blogosphere is no easy task, for sure.
Script guru, Robert McKee has been credited with saying, "Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact." Though it may be from behind a keyboard, the blogger, like the church, should strive to make that contact, one post at a time.