Blogging as Ministry in A Virtual World

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Quaker blogger Robin Mohr has written a really thoughtful post, if you are interested in ministry in a web 2.0 culture this is a must read essay. Here are the three key points she brings up and then a few I add to the list:

For me, the first point is that my blog is an outlet for the essays that were composing themselves in my head. It has offered me a means to improve my writing and editing skills, and a chance to share my theological reflections with others. Unlike most forms of writing, blogs also come with the opportunity for frequent interaction, unlike writing a book, for example, when it may be years before anyone else reads it.

The second point is that Quaker blogs are a source of religious reading material. I still subscribe to a couple of Quaker magazines, but they only come once a month. Every day there are new blog posts on different aspects of spiritual life, and whenever I’m ready they’re there. As Martin Kelley has reminded people, blogs are available every day and at all hours, when you’re stuck at home with little kids or an illness or a physical disability, if you work irregular hours, or when you are too far away from a meeting to attend regularly…

A third point is that Quaker blogs are part of an ongoing conversation about what is happening in our spiritual lives, including events we go to, books we read, theological questions we wrestle with, and our everyday joys and concerns. They offer a chance to stay in touch with Friends in a substantive way, between conferences, meetings, without travel costs, and often with photos of mutual Friends.

via What Canst Thou Say?.

Along with this I’d like to add a few things of my own:

  1. Blogging (at its best) exemplifies a kind of Faith as a work-in-progress. That is to say we have the ability to write short reflections, ideas, “theologies” if you will in a playful and creative manner in order to help think through what these things mean. I don’t know about the rest of you but I do some of my best “believing,” when I write. That is to say that writing forces me to really name what it is that I believe (and what I really do with that belief). In this way I see blogging as way to track our journeys of transformation.
  2. Most blogging is done in real-time, we write about things that are happening now, things that are relevant questions and concerns to the people of God today not in the 1800s. This is to say that ministry is always local, present, and of the times. This isn’t to say that what we reflect on isn’t in one way or another rooted in some ongoing history, because it is, but rather to say that those in ministry are always dealing with a two-way dialogue: the timeless and the timely.
  3. Blogging invites participation by asking people to join a community in dialogue and inviting them to add to the collective intelligence of that conversation. Rather than believing in isolation, blogging has the opportunity to create open, and very public, channels of Christian expressions in our world today.
  4. Blogs are open for change and revisions and so is our ministry and faith. While I am not a part of the reformed tradition I do appreciate their motto, “Reformed and always reforming.” This is the church in a nutshell, there is tradition but that tradition is always open to reinterpretations and revisions for each new generation. In this way blogs can help remind us of the need to not live in a world of rigid dogmatism but playful and joyful obedience to God’s Spirit.

Finally, Robin’s notes above were taken from a presentation she recently did at an ecumenical gathering where she talked with a number of people some of which were bloggers and some of which were not. Of interest to some of you is a really cool activity that could be done in any small group setting that sounds really fun to do:

…we did an exercise I call low-tech blog commenting. We chose short blog posts, printed them out in large type on paper and hung them on the wall next to large sheets of easel paper. The instructions are to go around the room, read the post, write down your reaction, your questions, agreement or disagreement, and then move on to the next one, and then as you move around, to come back and read what others have written and perhaps comment again. This exercise was Chris M.’s idea a few years ago for a workshop he and I led at SFMM. I’ve also done it with the teens at PYM’s Junior Yearly Meeting. It works well as an introduction to blog commenting, except for people with visual disabilities, so a couple of times I or another participant have read the posts and scribed for people who had difficulty with that.

You can (and should) read the rest of the post here: Blogging as Ministry

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Wess

A papa, Quaker minister, Phd in Intercultural Studies from Fuller, & prof. Contributor to Antioch Sessions. Angelic troublemaker & #sketchnote preacher. Enjoys #remix, liberation theology, bourbon & a wool vest.
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9 thoughts on “Blogging as Ministry in A Virtual World”

  1. This is a really great and insightful post that i really resonate in my own blogging life. Thanks for the points you add as they are really key to remember. i sometimes get commenters to ask me to clarify myself and this can be good for me but sometimes the place i find myself in i just do not always have an answer. i am ok with that but sometimes it does not satisfy the other person asking me to clarify. What do you do in these instances?

    Warm Regards,

    EP

  2. EP — thanks for the comment. I’m not sure what you’re asking. You say, ” i sometimes get commenters to ask me to clarify myself …” what is it you’re being asked to clarify? What is it they want you to answer to?

  3. Sometimes they want clarification on some theological statement i made but times i don’t have an answer because i am thinking and processing out loud. You know, the conservatives got to have everything nailed down as to why they think/say/believe things! That’s all i mean, in a general sense.

    EP

  4. I just commented on Robin’s blog about how the blogs have also let us find one another. It’s unlikely I’d know Robin and almost impossible I’d know you if it were for Google searches turning up that we had common interests despite that transcended the differences in our separated Quaker communities.

    Last week I was also doing some Compete and Technorati digging to see how our blogs are used and you came up on top of a bunch of metrics. After I muttered to myself a bit (“and here I am advertising my SEO skills”) I realized that you have all of these non-Quaker audiences (church ones and academic ones). Your blog acts as a kind of bridge, cross-pollinating ideas across different communities. That’s an important function. So our blogs are continuing to get us out of artificial communities and into a wider world of ideas and networks. Very cool stuff.

  5. @EP – I don’t think you need to feel like you have to answer every question and have things nailed down. There are plenty of times when I don’t respond to questions especially if they just seem mean spirited about it. But usually, I just try and say where I stand on a issue and let that be enough. You’re right these things are processing out loud.

    @Martin – thanks for the kind words about my blog, I had really thought about it this way. I checked out compete today but couldn’t see how you figured out what the things you figured out.

  6. Hey Wess, thanks for your kind words about my post. Ditto what Martin said about blogs being so important to reaching new audiences. Washington is lucky to be getting you.

  7. Robin no problem, I think it’s great and I really loved the lo-fi blog thing. You and Chris are a great team! I’m glad we’re not going to far and will still be in the same region as you and the fam.

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