I frequently ask myself, "Why do I blog?" My answers are varied. First, I enjoy writing, and writing is a vocation for me, not just a hobby. Second, I have a number of friends who want to know what I am doing and why. They are interested in me personally and pray for me as their friend. I also have a number of friends and donors who seek my input on various issues in the public mind. Third, both fresh content and interaction with current ideas lie at the very heart of the mission of ACT 3. ACT 3 exists to "equip leaders for unity in Christ's mission" thus I believe my blogging makes some contribution to this purpose or I would not do it. Finally, blogging allows you to respond to my thoughts in a number of fruitful ways.
I was made uniquely aware of this particular value after I read the responses to my Saturday post about why I continue to change my mind. A kind of "community" forms around bloggers and people begin to respond to me and then to one another. I know, for instance, that some lasting and real friendships have been formed by people who first "met" by commenting on my blog spot. Those who comment say things that intrigue or attract others to get to know them as people. This is one of the great contributions of social networking.
Read the comments connected to my Saturday, January 9, blog and you will see what I mean. You will find some really great thoughts added to my own post. Quite often such comments are much better than the blog itself. In this case I thought some of the responders added profoundly to my original post.
I screen each comment to my blog spot and post all comments with only two exceptions: (1) If a person is rude, abusive, or simply has it in for me in some personal way (which I know to be true because of having had experience with the person), then I sometimes delete a post. I even try to post all of these negative comments so long as the writer is fair and cogent. I only recall intentionally blocking one person over the past four years. If a writer treats me with respect then I will do the same to them in every case, regardless of the issue and/or our disagreement. I see this as an expression of Christian civility and open-mindedness. Blogs are meant to be challenged and this medium encourages it. I intentionally use my blogs in this way and will continue to do so. (2) Sometimes people use a blog comment section on a spot like mine for self-promotion or for crass sales. These automatically get deleted. It is a form of spamming and will always be dumped.
Finally, when my book is released (in about sixty days) I will use my blogs to talk a great deal more about missional-ecumenism and my vision for the whole church. This is already the thread that runs through all my posts. I write about a lot of subjects, as the list will show. I sometimes share entirely personal things, a great deal of them fun things so readers will know a bit about me and about who I am as an author and minister serving the church through the larger witness of ACT 3. If you want to understand all of this then please take 29 minutes to watch "The ACT 3 Story" on our Web site.
Meanwhile, your comments are always welcome. I believe blogs can do great harm. I do not, for the life of me, understand how a serious pastor can do a great deal of daily blogging. (My reason is fairly simple since this medium requires a great deal more time than most pastors should ever devote to it, or so I have come to believe from experience.) I believe many blogs do some good. I read a few but have precious little time to become aware of most of the blogosphere. I am not yet sure yet how much lasting good blogs do but many of you have helped me to see that there seems to be a vital place for truly good blogs that contribute to the mission of the church and the spiritual and intellectual life of readers. I hope my blogs are truly useful. Sometimes I am quite sure they are ordinary. Other times they may be useful. Many of you have convinced me that I should keep on writing, especially when you tell me so in personal and private ways that have truly encouraged me as a writer and thinker. For this reason I intend to press on with this work in 2010. Pray that I will take the time to write some quality material that feeds the soul of my readers and genuinely advances the mission of the church.