Friday, June 16, 2006

The Blessings of Blogging

If you had told me a year ago that I would be into blogging now, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But for me, this "adventure into blogging" these past months has been one of the most positive developments of my life.

Blogging for me is a lot like journaling, with the main exception that it is open for the public to see. I have always thought that someday I might like to write, but until I started blogging, never really knew where to get started. Having a blog has finally given me an excuse to put down into words ideas about which I have thought for a long time, but had never gotten around to writing down.

Another blessing of blogging is the "blogging community." Through reading others’ blogs, and commenting on them, and from interacting with those who comment on your blog, you begin to build relationships with people who share common interests. You meet and interact with people in other parts of the world, with whom you would most likely never have interacted otherwise.

Just as "iron sharpens iron," the comments of readers and other bloggers, whether supportive or antagonistic, help you to refine your ideas, and to think through issues in new ways. When you write something on your blog, and you leave the comments section open, you had better be prepared to defend yourself in the "marketplace of ideas."

At the recent Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, I was able to meet a good number of people in the "blogging community," who, up to that time, had been just a name, or at most, a photo on the screen, for me. People like Micah Fries, Paul Fries, John Stickley, Alan Cross, Tim Sweatman, Jeff Young, Wes Kinney, Travis Hilton, Kiki Cherry, Bowden McElroy, Jason Helmbacher, Wyman Dobbs, David Phillips, Art Rogers, Marty Duren, Kevin Bussey, Steve McCoy, Joe Thorn... Through blogging, I was able to renew contact with my old college friend, Wade Burleson, and his dad, Paul Burleson. I also discovered that because of blogging, other people knew me. A number of people I had never met, as well as a few I had met before, told me they were reading my blog.

Through blogging, it is also possible to influence others. Although it is almost impossible to estimate to what extent, many have suggested that the influence of bloggers played a major role in the election of Frank Page as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is the hope of many that blogging might be able to have a positive influence in the adoption of policies at the International Mission Board, which in turn might have an influence in winning a lost world to Christ.

During one of the sessions at the recent SBC, it was suggested that blogging takes away time from other more important things, such as evangelism and missions. My personal experience has been that those who are involved in blogging are often the most passionate about evangelism and missions. They blog precisely because they feel deeply about things, and feel the need to communicate their ideas and feelings to others. While it is true that it is possible to get so engrossed in blogging that you neglect other areas of your life, the same is true about any number of other activities in which we engage. The problem is not blogging, but rather lack of discipline.

It is also possible to be irresponsible with what you write on your blog. While there is plenty of room for good-natured humor, the temptation to be sarcastic and biting is all too near when writing about others who are not there in front of you at the time. It is possible to start false rumors based upon innuendo or unsubstantiated claims. However, as previously mentioned, whenever you do this, if you leave the comments section open, you had better be ready to defend yourself.

In actuality, I believe that overall, the openness and vulnerability of an interactive blog provides a good, healthy setting for developing Christian community. There is a lot of exhortation, sharing of concerns and needs, confession of weaknesses, and general encouragement that happens on many blogs. There is also rebuke and correction. Through it all, friendships are developed, and people’s lives are built up and edified.

I, for one, am thankful for the blessing of blogging.

P.S. While preparing this post, I just discovered this over at OK Preacher’s Christian Resource Center blog, referencing the original post at Under the Acacias. I think these are some excellent guidelines to keep in mind while blogging…

1. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your blog, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. (Eph 4:29)

Is what comes from our blogs wholesome? Is what we are writing helpful for building others up? Or does it tear them down?

2. Blog about others as you would have them blog about you (Lk 6:31)

The golden rule. If we blog about others, do we do it with love, respect, and integrity?

3. But in your blogs set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience... (1 Pet 3:15,16)

Are we consciously allowing Jesus Christ to rule over our blogs? When people disagree with us, do we respond with gentleness and respect?

4. Each one should use whatever blog he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms (1 Pet 4:10)

Are we using our blogs to serve others? To encourage, stimulate, and help others? To build them up in Christ? Or to blow our own trumpet?

5. Let us therefore make every effort to blog what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Ro 14:19) And Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the blog of peace (Eph 4:2)

Do we make every effort to maintain peace and unity in the body of Christ? Or do we focus on what divides us? When we disagree, are we humble and gentle?

6. Accept him whose blog is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters...Let us stop blogging judgment on one another... whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. (Ro 14 1-22)

Let us be careful not to condemn ourselves by dividing the body of Christ over disputable matters, or by judging the spiritual state of our brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.

7. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - blog about such things. (Phil 4:8)

Amen!

7 comments:

Kevin Bussey said...

David,

Great post! I will be praying for you and our other missionaries with more zeal than ever!

Kiki Cherry said...

David,

This is classic. I'm going to print out these "blog" verses, and put them up next to my computer. : )

Ken Sorrell said...

David,

Excellent post and thoughts to meditate upon. After reading numerous blogs during the SBC I began having some of the same thoughts you so eloquently penned. Posting or commenting on a blog does not insulate one from the same temptations we face while doing e-mail, letter writing, phone calls, or small talk over lunch. As you have stated, it's just a lot more public. I will refer to your post ofen I'm sure.

It is the educational and "iron sharpening iron" potential that I so desperately want to acheive as I too enter this new world of blogging. Thanks for your support and encouragement as I've gotten off the ground. <><

Jamie Wootten said...

Words of wisdom, indeed!

D. Long said...

David,

It is evident that the Lord has gifted you with the same passion and wisdom as your parents, both of whom are precious examples and inspirations to all of us. It was good to hear your mother speak (online) and to see you and your siblings sitting behind her.
Bless you, your family, and your ministry dear brother.

blampp@juno.com said...

David,
It was a "Blessing" to see you and the family in Greensboro. I'm sure it was painful and joyful to be reminded of your Dad's contributions to the SBC and the Kingdom. I would remind you, actually your entire family shared in those contributions.... and I shall always be grateful for your Dad's friendship! I also appreciate what I see in you and your ministry!

Outoftheshaker! said...

David,
Thanks for your email and I look forward to reading more of your Godly blogs. Thanks for your encouragement. May God continue to bless your ministry and I look forward to meeting you one day.