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
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
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
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.
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