Naked Pastor has 10 excellent suggestions for blogging pastors. Apparently I owe him a beer for reposting it here.
1. Anonymity: I don’t favor it except in extreme cases. If you are going to put yourself out there, then do it. Unless it’s extreme. The purpose of blogging, IMO, is to make formerly obscure information available to everyone. Obscurity defeats this purpose. Again, unless your situation is extreme, dangerous, sensitive or unusual.
2. Originality: There are tons of blogs out there all saying the same things, quoting the same scriptures, repeating the same clichés. Although you may wish to remain rooted in your tradition, be original and creative in your thoughts and your articulation of them.
3. Privacy: Do not disclose sensitive issues about your congregation or people in it, your friends or family… unless you have their expressed permission for certain stories. You might gain some readers, but you will definitely risk the alienation of your people. Avoid sensationalism for its own sake. Respect others always.
4. Employment: You may run the risk of losing your job as a pastor if you upset too many or the right people. You will be expected to be conventional and orthodox and to fall within the bounds of normality and acceptability. Don’t let the blog rob you of time. I spend at the most one hour on my blog per day, and that includes drawing the cartoon and writing the post. The weekends I keep very light. Perspective and priorities!
5. Care: Some of the readers you gather may become an online community that you might have opportunities to care for as a pastor. This includes moderation, which I find very difficult sometimes. I like diversity so I’m a very relaxed moderator. Once in a while I try to remind the nakedpastor community that we can challenge ideas, but not insult the person. Difficult to remember and do!
6. Blogging: One of the things I had to realize is that blogging every day prevents you from writing perfected and completed thoughts. But I see this as completely valid: you are allowing people to observe you process your theology and praxis and person. Books are concrete. Blogs are concrete before it hardens. So your ideas and writing will be imperfect and sometimes outright wrong. Get used to it.
7. Monetizing: If you are hoping to make big bucks from a religious blog, good luck! I tried and pennies trickled in. After a few years though, I have been approached by a few businesses offering bigger bucks. But it won’t make me a living. Yet. I talked with Problogger about this a couple of years ago and he agrees: religious sites will have difficulty making money.
8. Networking: If you want to build a readership, it is important to engage with other bloggers, especially those who seem to be on the same page as you. I have made wonderful friends online and value them in my life. Plus, I just think there is value in online relationships. I feel that my life is enriched by these real people in far away places.
9. Support: I have found it crucial to have some local moral support for what you are doing. I didn’t at first because I didn’t think nakedpastor would turn into anything. But it did, and now I couldn’t continue as easily without my support network locally and virtually. I might mention here the important task of critiquing the church. One of the church’s slogans, “Reformed and always reforming” means that, unlike a business who’s chief end is profit, the church is concerned with change and reform. So critique in helpful ways rather than sounding like you’re just trashing the church. This is one area where my supporters are especially helpful.
10. Honesty: You can be as honest as you feel you can. But remember that there are others who will be affected. Some people can handle only so much. You’ll need to decide how far you are willing to go. You don’t want to become divided: one person online and another in person. Fortunately, I pastor a congregation that is, for the most part, tolerant or even supportive of nakedpastor. However, it is a tricky path that must be negotiated wisely.
Fantastic. If I could add one suggestion to Naked Pastor’s list, it would be this:
11. Code. Buy a book on xml or xhtml or basic code so you can tweak your posts correctly and not end up with, as most blogging pastors tend to do, an image with text aligned properly on the side. Master it or at least become conversational enough not to get pushed around by your blogging platform.
That anonymity is tricky. I prefer that my friends don’t read what I’m writing, just because I don’t think it’s very good!
Then stop writing! 🙂
Thanks for posting my suggestions TSK. No worries about the beer.