It’s technology training season here in the CMT. In classes, in individual coaching, and in regional and national workshops and conferences, our attention is fixed on helping congregational practitioners, seminarians, and faculty better utilize digital media in their ministries of faith formation, communication, and leadership.
For the next several Mondays, I’m going to distill some of my recent workshops into posts that I hope will help whet your appetite for more. (If I succeed, please know that there’s still time to register for e-Formation 2014).
I’m going to start with blogging, because it tends to be thought of as an unconditionally good thing (“My church doesn’t have a blog, but I know we should”). I agree with Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson that this valuation isn’t necessarily true.
But if it is a good fit for you or your church, and if you’re willing to put in the time, blogging is one of the best social media tools I know of to help you reach a wider audience with messages that matter. Here are five church leadership goals I believe blogging can help you with.
If you play a pastoral or formational role for a group of people, why would you pass up an opportunity to touch their lives more frequently and spark honest dialogue about the joys and struggles of the community? Blogging can be all that and more for a leader or leaders willing to listen deeply and share vulnerably.
Role model: The Patience of Trees.
For gospel reasons and survival reasons, churches throughout the secularizing West are once again paying attention to their surrounding neighborhoods. And the most engaged among those churches and leaders are looking for forums to contribute to community discussion.
The best way to get started is to read and comment on lots of other community blogs and discussion boards. But there may come a time when you’re ready to get in the game as a host. Trust that your faith perspective won’t keep you from reaching readers if you remain respectful and engaged.
Role model: Vicar of H Street.
This tip I picked up from Meredith Gould, author of The Social Media Gospel. Whether your blog is a part of your church website or a standalone venture, there’s a good chance you’re already creating a ton of content (especially in your newsletter!) that could touch more people when doled out post-by-shareable-post.
Don’t forget to make the paragraphs shorter and the vocabulary more accessible. Role model: Sticky Faith.
Many church leaders find themselves torn between witnessing to their own convictions and shepherding flocks whose collective opinion is more diverse or flat-out opposed. Although starting a personal blog doesn’t solve all the challenges of navigating this pastoral hornet’s nest, it can be part of the process of finding spiritual balance.
Role model: Dirty Sexy Ministry.
Continuing a trend online that began on paper in church tract racks, many congregations are starting blogs for seasonal theological reflections. Don’t neglect your best source of potential writers: the people who make your faith community what it is.
Role model: Blog of St. Luke in the Fields.
If you found this list helpful, you may want to check out the entire presentation. For more help with church-related blogging, consult the pros:
Speaking Faithfully – Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson
Social Media Gospel – Meredith Gould
New Rules of Marketing and PR – David Meerman Scott
Full disclosure: Many of the role models above are friends and colleagues. That’s partly why I follow them closely enough to be able to commend them to you.
Kyle Matthew Oliver (@kmoliver) is the digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching, content developer for the e-Formation Conference, a contributor at Faith Formation Learning Exchange (where this post originated), and a panelist on the Easter People podcast.