I have been blogging, as it is called, for about two-and-a-half years. I began regularly maintaining a blog (not this one) in November 2005 after I was encouraged by a good friend to pursue blogging for the sake of encouraging others through writing. Shortly after coming to Christ (in 1999), I found that I had a new love for writing. My only outlets for writing at this time, however, were through personal journaling and papers written for class. Blogging provided a way in which I could both write on a consistent basis and encourage others in the process; add to this the fact that I was currently working at a church and regularly teaching, and blogging seemed to make perfect sense.
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.
Blogging is not for everybody. Some people rightly hesitate to develop or host a blog. Some may feel that blogging would promote too much pride in their heart and life. Others may sense the gravity and power of writing and are therefore reluctant to write publicly. Still others may not consider blogging a good use of their time.
Each of these three reasons are legitimate. I would suggest that a person should forego blogging if they find their pride inflamed by writing their thoughts publicly. I respect those who realize how powerful writing is and therefore keep themselves out of the arena altogether. I also understand the struggle to correctly align priorities and decide on how to best use one’s time. But I wonder—I just wonder—if some are kept from blogging, not because their are humble, but because they are proud.
As I reflected on my post from Monday, I came to the conclusion that I was probably guilty of two faults: (1) Drawing a false dichotomy between blogging and evangelism and; (2) not emphasizing the goodness of Christian blogging as a ministry. Please forgive my carelessness. I will attempt to clarify these two issues in the following paragraphs.
Blogging and Evangelism
Under the heading Don’t Let Blogging Replace Clear, Biblical Priorities, I mentioned that one of those priorities that should not be set aside by blogging was evangelism. What I had in mind here was face-to-face evangelism like evangelism to neighbors, co-workers, family members and the like. This principle tied in to the previous heading, Don’t Let Blogging Outweigh Your Time With Others. However, I can see that this might be confusing because it almost sounds like engaging in dialog with an unbeliever through a blog, or through an email as a result of interaction on a blog, is not evangelism; or that true evangelism must only be done face-to-face. I do not think that is true. Evangelism does not necessarily need to be conducted face-to-face; it can happen through letters, blogs, email, phone, video, and other means.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that since we live in a digital age, where the Internet is almost a new kind of Piazza, Christians have massive opportunity to spread the gospel through their blogs. Our blogs can be a means by which we expound and proclaim the Christian faith, where we can interact with unbelievers about the content of our blog, and where we can provide spiritual resources to those who are under conviction and desire salvation.
What can happen, however, and what I am trying to guard us against, is that we can make the mistake of only doing virtual evangelism and gradually drift away from face-to-face evangelism. Why? Probably because it is easier to evangelize through the computer. The spears of anger, confrontation, and ridicule are significantly blunted when they have to pass from the keyboard to our monitors. We can take that, and even end up feeling pretty good about our “courage.” Let us not be deceived!
Blogging as a Ministry
As I tried to show in the previous few paragraphs, blogs can be used as a ministry to unbelievers. They can be used as a ministry to the Church as well. That is one thing I have tried to do with this blog: provide helpful spiritual resources to Christian men and women, both young and old. And there are a host of other blogs serving the Church with their book reviews, essays, personal thoughts, and links to other good websites. I believe this can be rich and effective ministry if done well and according to God’s Word. Again, my only warning is that we are careful to not allow our blog time prevail over our personal (face-to-face) interaction with others.
Yet, there are some precious members of the body of Christ who are relegated to a wheelchair, or who are mostly homebound because of disabilities, and who are rarely able to get out and about, who may find that they can have a fruitful ministry online hosting a blog or website. If this is your situation, and you have despaired of finding ministries with which you can serve others (or even if you have not yet despaired), then I would encourage you to pray and think about this as a possible ministry, while at the same time seeking out personal fellowship with other Christians as much as you are able.
So in even in above case, I realize I need to be careful to not draw such a hard and fast line with blogging. Some may sense a leading to spend more time working on their blog or website, some may choose to spend less. In either case, what is important is that we are being guided by biblical principles (like those I have tried to lay out, though somewhat clumsily, in the last post) as we think about blogging.
The Internet is a wonderful tool for evangelism and ministry; may we use it wisely, purposefully, fruitfully, and above all, for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Photo: David Lofink
Time is precious. God intends (requires!) His children to plan and spend their time wisely. “Make the most of your time, for the days are evil,” Paul exhorts the Ephesian church; “Help me to number my days so that I may present to you a heart of wisdom” the Psalmist pleads before God (Ephesians 5:16; Psalm 90:12).
Yet if we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we do not always spend our time as wisely as we should. Our time is often carelessly tossed aside by watching television, taking part in fruitless conversations, procrastination, poor (or no) planning, laziness, lack of discipline, web-surfing, and a multitude of other trivial activities that so easily creep into our day.
Blogging, unfortunately, can become yet another time waster. We can spend an inordinate amount of time in the comment sections of other blogs, engage in long and tedious debates with other bloggers; or we can allow our blog writing to consume our lives and push out other, more important, priorities. I hate to break it to you, but unless your livelihood is derived from blogging, or unless it is a duty that you owe an employer, then I would say that blogging is not a high priority. It is only a hobby.
This is why it is important as Christians who have been entrusted with a stewardship of precious minutes and hours and days, to make the most of our time in regards to our blogging. Let me suggest a few principles.
Don’t Let Blogging Outweigh Your Time with Others
This is very important. Our time in virtual interaction should never replace personal fellowship. It is unwise and unhealthy to neglect person-to-person relationships for computer-to-computer communication. While the Bible does not forbid socializing through computers (or other technology), I would argue that the tenor of Scripture upholds face to face fellowship as the norm. Sometimes this is not possible, but where it is, it should be sought and cherished.
Spend Your Blogging Time Purposefully
It is good to have time of recreation and blogging can be a fruitful time of recreation if it is spent purposefully. In America, however, we have bought into the misguided notion that leisure means laziness and the absence of discipline. True recreation, I would contend, is neither laziness or the absence of discipline, but rather a time set aside where we take part in a different kind of activity than that which characterizes our regular activities.
So set aside a certain time that you will spend writing and stick to it. Plan what you are going to write about. Have a plan for how you will visit other people’s blogs and the amount of time you will spend there. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending much more time than you ever intended to spend.
Don’t Let Your Time Blogging Replace Clear, Biblical Priorities
Clear, Biblical priorities like taking care of our families, fulfilling our duties at home, spending time with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading, fellowship with other Christians, serving in our local church body, evangelism, and working at our jobs and our studies with excellence. We will find abiding satisfaction when we seek faithfulness in the work God has laid out for us to do. On the other hand, experience tells us that the neglect of our responsibilities usually leaves us dry, frustrated, and unfulfilled.
So exercise discipline when it comes to your blogging. Consider the stewardship of time that God has entrusted you with and establish your priorities. And follow the apostle Paul and “make the most of your time for the days are evil.”
Paul’s rhetorical question to the religious Jew in Romans 2:21 regularly intrudes my conscience: “You who teach another, do you not teach yourself?” Those who have the good desire to teach Biblical truth for the benefit of others can be prone to developing the bad habit of only teaching others. How easy it is to let truth bypass our hearts as we think about how we can teach that particular truth to another person.
I like bananas. Usually, I like them best with something–like cereal or strawberries. But one thing is for sure: I can’t stand unripe bananas. You know what I’m talking about. When they are green and crunchy, and they leave that taste in your mouth that immediately has you reaching for the water pitcher. Yikes! If only I had let that green little piece of fruit sit on the counter for a few more days!
As I read blogs (some of my own past articles included), and even some books–although books are not the main topic of this post–I sometimes think to myself, “I wish they would have let that one sit a little longer.” Some posts are like that unripe banana: they have the potential to be oh so yummy, but for want of patience and the lack of serious reflection, they come out half-ready. They might even have all the basic nutrients, but they sure don’t taste very good.