Blogging and Accountability in the Local Church

Today Fox News reported that a severed foot washed ashore off the coast of British Columbia, making it the fifth foot to show up off the coast of British Columbia in a year. Investigators are treating the incident as a criminal investigation. But let me posit this question: why are they treating the discovery of a severed human foot as a criminal investigation? Why is this even in the news? I mean, it’s just a foot. What’s wrong with a foot? The problem, of course, is not the foot—it’s the fact that the foot is not attached to a human being. This makes it news. This makes it a possible crime scenario. This makes it gruesome; not the foot, but the fact that it is not attached to a body.

It is this kind of lovely imagery that makes Paul’s illustration of the Church in I Corinthians 12:12-31 so powerful. Here Paul compares the Church—the community of believers—to a human body. Like the human body, there are different members in the Church, each with his or her own gift and function. Although some members of the human body differ in terms of prominence (everybody can see the mouth, but nobody can see the stomach), each member is important. And, whenever a member (like a foot) is removed from the body, the body is left with a kind of deformity, and long gazes at the detached limb usually lead to nausea. Why? Because feet were meant to be attached to a body.

So it is with the body of Christ. When a member is severed from the rest of the body–that is, cut off from regular fellowship with believers, corporate worship, and the accountability of local church and her leaders–not only is that church affected, but that person begins to look unnatural and out of place. Usually, when Christians remove themselves from the regular fellowship and accountability of the local church, pride begins to fester, sin takes deeper root, and strange beliefs tend to wedge their way into the wandering Christian’s heart and mind. I’ve seen it happen many times.

With this in mind, I would like to suggest that blogging, because it can serve as a mode of both social interaction and spiritual teaching, is something that all Christians should bring under the accountability of their local church. It can be very easy to “cut ourselves off” from other Christians who would otherwise hold us to a Biblical standard with regard to our writing because we want to create an online facade and portray ourselves as someone we are not. Or we may fear to have our poor teaching exposed, or our inappropriate conduct called into question. We may like to sound spiritual online, but we are afraid that our friends at church know the real story.

Whatever the temptation, I would say that it is patently unwise to blog without the accountability of our local churches. If you find yourself hesitating to tell your Bible study leader or church elder or pastor about your blog, then you probably need to sincerely question both your motive for blogging and the content of your blog.

Positively, I would suggest that we need to open ourselves up to the scrutiny of other the believers in our local church, and invite them to regularly peruse our blogs so that they might offer insight, correct errors, point out misguided and harsh words, and help keep us be faithful to honor Jesus Christ in our blogging. I do not think that all of us need to tell the senior pastor about our blogs—they are busy enough already—but I would recommend that we seek out those who are either older than we are, or in a kind of leadership position over us, whether it is an elder, a Bible study leader, small group leader, or ministry leader. Our hearts are deceitful. Sin is deceitful. We need each other. Go tell someone about your blog.

Photo: Jon Ottosson

12 thoughts on “Blogging and Accountability in the Local Church”

  1. Usher: Hey Deak, get a load of this guy – he’s about 3 years old in the adult category and he’s giving advice about others giving advice on blogs?

    Deacon: Young minds don’t have any reservations Usher – but who am I talking to – you don’t have any!

    Usher: What if the people in your church aren’t accountable to anyone? He seems to think all churches are just like his – perfect – just like his denominatio – perfect – wait till he lives to see the flaws and finds out some of the “rules he’s adopted” are found to be untrue or false. We’re talkin’ ugly o)

  2. You make some good points. Although, the reason I don’t tell people at my church about my blog is because the people at my church are hypocrites and probably couldn’t stand to hear what I had to say. I’m going through a possible church switch soon. We’ll see where God leads me. I agree we should be accountable and not wear a mask or hide who we are. I just haven’t found people that I’m willing to bear my soul to that are like that. Honestly, churches today are not living up to my standards.

    I don’t get the comment above. What does age have to do with anything?

  3. Usher: So young and naiive these idealistic kids they are Deak – they think they’ll find a church that will suit them some day

    Deacon: They might Usher, they might

    Usher: Deak, come on you know they won’t. They’ll search and search and search and never be happy because that’s what churches are full off – OTHER PEOPLE SEARCHING! When will they discover that church is a group of Christian believers without all that pomp and circumstance of “Sunday rituals”.

    Deacon: But they don’t know any different, it’s how they were raised

    Usher: Why don’t you tell them about the churches springing up all over the world that refuse to meet in the traditional manner, huh Deak, tell them?

    Deacon: Hopefully they’ll figure it out Deak. That the church is where two or more are gathered and it’s not about the traditions and rituals that man has come to know as “church”.

  4. Deacon,

    I hear and receive your implied warning about my age and the tendency for a young man like me to pontificate and speak quickly and offer instruction. I am also aware that I need to be careful to not develop extra-biblical and unrealistic expectations about the Church and about people in the Church. I definitely need to hear these things.

    However, since I have requested in my Comment Policy (on the ‘About this Site’ page), that those who comment on this blog keep themselves from posting uncharitable comments, I need to ask you to please refrain from interacting with others with the condescension and sarcasm that has characterized your past two comments.

    Thank you,
    Derek

  5. Deacon or whatever your name is – since you are so smart and have all the answers do you suggest that I stay at a church that doesn’t tell the WHOLE truth of the gospel message? Are you in the place of God?

    You are probably right that people are searching. Why are they searching? Because church has become empty. Church is supposed to be a place where you go to fellowship with other like-minded believers. In my church, I find people who say they are believers but then I see them out getting drunk with every other heathen around or inviting people to play poker at their house and “bring the beer” too. This isn’t the kind of life God has called us too! And if a church promotes or says nothing about this behaviour, then I have issues with that. So please don’t judge me unless you actually want to have a conversation with me.

    Ok, maybe I’m overstepping my bounds by replying to Deacon/Usher. I just felt like I had to respond. Derek, I think its awesome that you are young and preaching the truths of God’s word. Many people in the Bible were young – Samuel, Josiah, even David and God used them mightily. I thank God that there are young people who are willing to speak up in times like these.

    God bless,

    Michelle

  6. DB

    Good call. I immediately went and made the elders aware of my relatively new blog. It is just so wise to be above board and helps me fear God and not men by trying to be honest before both.

    RZ

  7. I never was one for allegory, so I’ll speak plainly – far from Derek writing unsolicited advice to the “older and wiser” I think he is revealing a spiritual maturity that many older bloggers should both aspire to and a course worth adopting.

    Since we are called to eat, drink and do whatever to the glory of God, that means that everything we do will reflect either positively or negatively of God’s glory. The church and the accountability it provides is a major means of grace in keeping us in the path of righteousness – and so Derek’s advice seems eminently biblical and sound. Like it or not what we do in public likewise reflects either positively or negatively on our local church.

    1 Timothy 4:12 “12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

    Paul

  8. Derek, Thanks for your post. We do need to be accountable to someone…although we often shy away from that. We need to have someone who will speak the truth in love to us–and not just when blogging, but all the time.

    When blogging we might also consider if what we write meets Paul’s standard:

    “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

    And age has nothing to do with anything. I will encourage you with I Tim. 4:12: Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

    …that said, experience may possibly have something to do with it, I don’t know…

    Derek, I don’t know your experience and I don’t know if you’ve ever been a part of a church that has had conflict…

    When we look at the letters to the churches, we find words like anger, malice, wrath, lying, clamor and so forth…these were words describing the relationships *within* the Church. We hear Jesus and John reminding us to love one another. Why the reminders? It is not easy to love and frankly it is flat out impossible to love apart from the Spirit of God in us. In Christ, we do have the power to love as we ought, but we struggle nonetheless. As a result, church life can and will be ugly and painful and risky, but it is well worth it in the long run.

    We need to remember that Satan loves to disrupt and cause division in the Church. He wants to keep us bound up so we don’t live and love and serve joyfully in the Body as God has intended. He wants us to be divided, to be severed from one another.

    It is truly a miracle for God to take such a varied group of people and make them all His children. And then for all of us to function in one accord as the Church is a continuing miracle. But as we do so, the world will notice.

    mybloggerings: Please keep praying that God would lead you to people to whom you can bear your soul. Accountability and authenticity don’t come easy to any of us. It’s risky but it’s part of true fellowship. But as you open yourself up, you will find like-minded people. There are people who are hungry for that. Trust that God has some place for you in His Body (I Cor. 12:18) and He will get you there in His way and time. Keep your eyes on Christ. Don’t keep looking back and letting past hurts entangle or ensnare you. Trust that He is watching over you for good, even when you’re really hurting….

  9. Re: my comment: Sorry, I don’t know why my reference to I Cor 12:18 came out as it did with the smiley…Wasn’t sure if/how I could do an edit…

  10. Derek,

    I apologize for my comment re: experience. My intent was to build up, but as I’ve reconsidered what I wrote, I can now see my words were condescending to you rather than imparting grace to you (Ephesians 4:29).

    II Cor. 13:14,
    Karen

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