Assemblies of God SearchSite GuideStoreContact Us
Current_issue
Subscribe
Spanish
Daily_Boost
Previous_issues
Key_Bearers
Weekly_drawing
Conversations
Guard_your_heart
Bible_reading_guide
ABCs_of_salvation
Questions_Answers
Who_we_are
Staff
speakers
PE_Books
Contact_us
Links
Home

Blog it!

Blogging churches: Open 24/7

By Mark A. Kellner

March 2007, handbills started appearing in the northwestern Oklahoma city of Enid, a remnant of the Cherokee trail and home to Vance Air Force Base.

The flyers advertised a curious-sounding Web site: questioninggod.net. The site was actually a Weblog, or “blog,” and it offered a short animated “movie” whose soundtrack and screen filled with the questions many people have about God. There was also an invitation to a Saturday night series of informal worship services and sermons where questions, posted at the blog or sent via cell phone text messaging, would be considered and answered.

According to Terry Cuthbertson, youth pastor and Internet techie at First Assembly of God in Enid, the church that sponsored the site and the sermons, the unusual form of outreach achieved its goal.

“We brought to the sermons and to the church people from the community who truly did have questions about God,” Cuthbertson says. “There were a lot of people who were so engaged by that series.”

Cutherbertson says the church has used the blog-and-flyer method on two other occasions to promote sermon series and get people interested. The results attest to the power of a blog to serve as more than just the isolated Web diary of a lonely soul.

Connecting — with peers, the public and with believers — appears to be the essence of several successful blogs. Cuthbertson’s more personal blog, “Pastor T’s Weblog,” kidzpastor.wordpress.com, is dedicated to youth pastoring and is, he says, a way to exchange ideas with colleagues.

“It gives me a format to put up pictures of what I’m doing,” he explains. “For instance, I’m about to upload one of the lessons I did on tithing. I can put my PowerPoint slides on there as a download. It’s helped me meet other children’s pastors.”

The southeastern Texas city of Nederland, with 370,000 residents in its metropolitan area, is roughly eight times the size of Enid, with, according to First Assembly of God Pastor Danny Cheney, “a church on every corner.”

But not every church is online. “In our area,” Cheney says, “not a lot of churches are visible on the Internet; the churches are few that have Web sites.” This gives Cheney a chance to expound on “family, ministry and life between Sundays” in his “Life of a Pastor” blog (lifeofapastor.com) where he addresses current issues, defends the faith and reaches out to the unchurched in his community.

“In a weekly bulletin, you can only say so much, but in a blog you can say much more,” explains Cheney. “I can keep up with our church people and anyone else who wants to read it.”

According to Cheney a blog is a good way to share where you are on your spiritual journey and take anyone along with you.

The response for being “authentic,” Cheney says, is greater engagement: Blogging “keeps you more real to the people, and they identify with the same struggles. They feel like I’m more real about what I experience in life, and they like it.”

Unlike the Enid experiment, Cheney says his months of blogging, so far, haven’t reached deep into the surrounding community. For that, e-mailed devotions seem more effective.

Eric Smith, who pastors Destiny Christian Center Assembly of God in Huber Heights, Ohio, a Dayton suburb, uses his blog, “What we have here is...,” to discuss and explain his Pentecostal faith.

“Christian blogs that address current issues and theological topics in clear, kind and coherent ways serve a great value to the body of Christ,” says Smith, who also operates his district’s blog. “I especially love to see Pentecostal blogs that are expounding on Pentecostal issues, as there don’t seem to be enough of those in the blogosphere. Like one gentlemen put it to me the other day, ‘I don’t have time to read everything that’s out there, and it’s nice to find a blog that covers some of the things I find interesting to read.’”

Smith has had some unexpected results from his blogging. “I originally ventured into blogging as sort of a creative outlet and diary-type thing,” he says. “However, as I began blogging a very humbling thing began to happen — people started reading it. I realized the vast outreach potential of blogging — not just locally either. My blog has very much turned into an outreach tool, and several times we’ve had visitors to the church reference the fact that they’ve ‘read the blog’ and that, in part, was why they came to church.”

And for those venturing into the blogosphere — something Smith, Cheney and Cuthbertson each encourages pastors and others to do — Smith offers a word of advice: “One very important item I’ve learned is that the wise blogger will make sure the fruit of the Spirit are always in operation when they blog. The blogosphere can become a very contentious place. We must always keep in mind that honoring Christ is first and foremost.”

The experiences of Cuthbertson, Smith and Cheney demonstrate that with dedication and some creativity, the humble blog can do more than chronicle individual experiences: It can serve as a means to introduce people to the gospel and to Jesus, the greatest Word of all.


MARK A. KELLNER is a veteran journalist in Columbia, Md.

E-mail your comments to tpe@ag.org.

E-mail this page to a friend.
©1999-2009 General Council of the Assemblies of God