Like many pastors I’ve taken up blogging.   I expect that each of us blogs for different reasons – I read enough of these blogs to get sense of how different we are in our use of the blogs.  But, each of us blogs because we have something to say to a broader audience – an audience that is likely broader than our immediate congregation.  On any given day I get between 150 to 250 hits.  That’s not huge, but it’s respectable, and it is a number far beyond the number I reach in my own congregation (especially when you take a weekly cumulative number).

Rebecca asked me to write this post in part because I blog so frequently.  My practice is to blog daily, except when I’m simply unable to get to a computer with internet access!  Part of my reasoning for blogging daily might have something to do with vanity.  I want to attract readers.  With that in mind, early on I had read a blog post by Scot McKnight, author of the Jesus Creed blog, which said that if you want to attract and keep a readership, you have to blog daily.  I took up the challenge, and have tried to keep up the pace ever since – and my readership has grown as a result.

As to why I blog –  I must confess up front that one of the attractions of blogging is that it allows me to publish whatever I want to publish, whenever I want to publish it.  I am my own editor.  Now,  I enjoy writing, so this is not drudgery.  Before I took up blogging I had to depend on the good graces of publishers and journal editors – and I have been able to put out a fairly large number of published pieces, including three books and numerous articles and reviews for both general and academic journals – to get my thoughts in print.  Although I have a fairly large corpus of published works, and I even edit a journal (Sharing the Practice), that has never seemed to be enough for me.  So, now I can write what I want, when I want, with few if any filters (the only real filter is me – I’m ever cognizant of the fact that I have a family and I’m a pastor).

In my personal blog – Ponderings on a Faith Journey –  I write upon a wide spectrum of issues, but always with my faith in mind (except those occasions when I talk sports).  Even my political posts usually have a faith component.  I also have sermon blog, on which I post my sermons each week entitled Words of Welcome.

The question is – how do I keep this in balance with my daily work as a pastor and my commitments to family?  That is a difficult question to answer, except to say I do my best to keep things balanced.  Much of what I write are reflections on theology and the daily news.  Sometimes I pick up political/social/cultural issues – usually after reading the news online.  I might pick up a point to comment on.  Sometimes it’s the comments made by my visitors that propels a series of blog posts.  I tend not to engage in too many conversations in the comments section, but instead, offer up a new post to further the conversation.  Blogging has also given me impetus to finish the books I read – especially the ones sent to me by publishers – so that I can offer reviews.  As you can see there is an untold amount of information to dig through, reflect upon, and comment upon.  There are times, when I have to really dig deep to come up with something, but that usually has more to do with where I’m at that day than it does with regard to my sources of information.

One of the things that a blogging pastor has to be aware of is the “employer.”  Rebecca,  in inviting me to offer this post, commented that I often pick up controversial issues.  That is true.  I’ve endorsed a candidate for President – noting carefully that I did so as private citizen and not as a pastor.  I’ve dealt with gay marriage, the death penalty, war, and even abortion.  If you’re a church member and you have access to the blog you likely know what I think about such issues.  Now, I have the advantage that the search committee – or at least some members of the search committee – had been reading my blog even as we were in the interview process.  They knew in advance that I took up controversial issues, that I was somewhat to the left on certain issues, and that I wasn’t afraid to express them on the blog.   When I was presented to the congregation, it was noted that I was a blogger.  So, even if you don’t agree with my positions, you know I do this.  That gives me a certain amount of freedom.  But, at the same time I try not to abuse that freedom.  My suggestion to prospective blogging pastors is simply to check it out with your leadership.  Let them know what you’re up to.  If they have concerns about what you write, then heed their warnings.

Not every pastor needs to have a blog, though having ways of utilizing the new media is important.  But if you’re going to do this, and do it right, you have to enjoy writing.  I write, because it’s part of who I am, and I’m thankful that I have this outlet to express my thoughts.  Hopefully over the course of time, I’ve become a better writer and more adept at sharing my thoughts clearly and as concisely as I’m able!   I will let my readers decide if this is true.

Preacher Bob 4-5-2009Bob Cornwall is Pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church of Troy, MI, husband of Cheryl, and father of Brett.  He is also editor of Sharing the Practice  (Academy of Parish Clergy) and a regular contributor to the Christian Century blogTheolog.