i’m church, therefore I blog

18 July, 2005 at 7:20 pm 3 comments

Interactive. Communication. Two keywords for plotting changing patterns in the way we relate these days. Remember BE (Before Email), BI (Before the Internet) and BMP (Before Mobile Phones)? It's difficult, isn't it? The organisers of Live8 were talking about how different it was organising the first LiveAid concert 20 years ago, and the one this month. The landscape of relating and communicating has altered beyond recognition.

I could have added "Information". That's how the Internet started – a global store of information. But it has become far more than that. It's evolved into a global communication network. Communication is now a far more fundemantal function of the Internet than disseminating information. The explosion of website design about communicating. It's not just a meatter of being "out there" on the web and being picked up by the search engines. It's about persuading people to spend time on your site. After all, if the only purpose was information, why not just post what are effectively A4 pieces of paper with the information?

What makes the difference between a good website and a great one? Between one that gets loads of hits and results, and one that doesn't? Increasingly (now we've got the notion of attractive design firmly in our heads) it's about interactivity. (Blogging enters from the wings, stage left, and takes up position centre stage).

Blogging moves us beyond merely reading what someone else has written to interaction and discussion. Follow a thread, join the discussion, and influence it. Your comment – your "take" – is likely to draw more people in. The discussion moves on and grows. It's not static.

I cannot imagine a church with any significant sort of online presence that, very soon, will not have its own blog. Imagine how it would change things! On Monday, the minister posts the texts for the week. People who are interested add their observations. They say what they find interesting, puzzling, relevant, archaic, helpful, problematic. They also suggest hymns (and of course, there will be few surprises there! Jo Blogger will suggest "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam" for the nth week running). They post names of people and situations they would like included in the prayers. On Wednesday, the minister gives a draft outline of the service and sermon, shaped in no small part by what has been posted. Again, there's opportunity for response and comment. Friday is "S" day.

Think about how much communal thinking and discussion has gone into the service. Imagine how many people will come to church having had a hand in what happens on Sunday! In time, it could be developed. People will be able to contribute written prayers, and suggest stories for the family slot. It would be a great way to encourage people to share their faith stories. And to get feedback on the service that's just been. People are inclined to be far more honest, open and personal when blogging. Our churches could become hives of communication, instead of everyone always complaining about being left out of the loop.

It astonishes me that the denominational centres of the churches don't have running blogs. Think of the potential for communicating the work of committees and getting real feedback and interaction. Consider how useful the URC would find a running blog about Catch the Vision. After all, if you want to find out what people are thinking, one sure way is the Letters section of Reform.

Of course, blogging isn't for everyone. But then, neither is picking up the phone, or writing to Reform. That doesn't matter. Some (many?) people will do it. We need to be looking for ways of making it easy for people to participate "where they are". The fact that many aren't yet online, or are unlikely ever to be, shouldn't stop us getting adventurous. Why must the church always be several steps behind, rather than leading the way creatively?


Entry filed under: emerging church.

it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there … The politics of the rabbit hole

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. stuart  |  18 July, 2005 at 9:19 pm

    A catch the vision blog run by the URC sounds like a great idea. Perhaps this is something you could suggest. It seems to me that there are lots of great ideas out there but people are not really getting the chance to talk to each other. The opportunity for people to come together at places such as assembly are limited. Reform is slow and space restricted, blogs are more free, more instant. They allow dialogue, the chance to reflect on others views to modify or change your own ideas. Why not give it a go after all staying as we are is not an option!

  • 2. Wol  |  21 July, 2005 at 9:35 am

    I’m trying a slightly more oblique approach, stuart – getting this blog going to show the potential. I’ll then try and persuade the others …

  • 3. homileo7  |  28 July, 2005 at 11:01 am

    Hey wol.

    I did what you suggested. Check it out.



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