Wednesday, February 28, 2007

How to's of Blogging for Churches - by Cindy Solomon

Brian Bailey is the primary author of the recently released book, The Blogging Church, written also with Terry Storch, and leads the web team at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. An expert on the use of blogs in the church, Brian has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News and the corporate blogging book, Naked Conversations. The following excerpt is part of an interview with Brian that originally appeared in the Spring Arbor publication, Christian Advance.

How did you get into blogging?
I started reading blogs in 2000 and after experimenting for a couple of years, I finally launched my personal blog -- -- in 2004. Blogs are a wonderful way to connect with people across the globe. Through blogs I've been exposed to so many different perspectives, so much knowledge and so many interesting people that I never would have had the chance to experience otherwise.

Who is the audience for The Blogging Church?
The book is for everyone in the church who has questions about blogging. If you play a role in a local church, whether as a staff member or volunteer, and are curious about blogging, this book

is packed with questions, answers, ideas and inspiration. The book is equally about the why and the how of blogging. If you are trying to decide whether blogs are a good idea for your church, you'll find a lot of content designed to help answer that question. If you're already a blogging pioneer, hopefully you'll discover further ideas to help you be even more effective while avoiding common pitfalls.

What makes this book unique?
This is the first book on blogging written specifically for the church. Many books have been published on blogging, including Naked Conversations, a book on corporate blogging I highly recommend. The local church is a unique entity, with incredible opportunities and challenges that are unlike any business. The sense of what is at stake in the local church, that perspective, there's simply nothing else like it.

What do you hope readers will take away?
Equal doses of inspiration and caution. I hope people see the incredible potential of blogging and the many different ways a blog can be used to reach the committed and the curious in their church and community. Blogs can help open doors and start conversations and extend the physical community of the local church online.

On the other hand, I think blogging should have a huge warning label. A blog can easily become an ego-feeding, insular home of diatribes and self-congratulation. People naturally turn inward -- the warm, inviting glow of the spotlight can be hard to resist. A few months later, you realize that your blog is no longer about the church you serve or the One you serve, it's about you and you alone.

What questions should church staff ask when considering whether to blog?
One question that is a theme throughout is, What problem are you trying to solve? It's very tempting to start blogging for no other reason than to be able to say you have a blog or because it's the latest thing. In the church, time and money are too precious to waste on a gimmick. If a blog isn't driven by a passion to reach people and share the vision of the church in an authentic way, it isn't worth doing.

What are the advantages of blogging for a church?
Blogs are an amazingly simple and inexpensive way to share the story of your church online. You can connect with people and reveal your heart, and the heart of your church. You can cast the vision, keep people informed, learn from others, reach out, market your church, and keep your staff on the same page. The possibilities are endless.

What are the challenges?
Unfortunately, the world of blogs (the blogosphere) can become an endless, self-referencing circle of debate and criticism between people who are supposed to be on the same side. You may launch your blog filled with determination to connect with the members of your church in a new way. Maybe the blog will provide an easy, low-pressure way for people to get a sense of the church. But next thing you know, you've turned your back on your church in order to spend hour after hour defending what you do and how you do it to people thousands of miles away.

What are some of your favorite church blogs and why do you like them?
There are very few examples of really good church blogs, but there are many, many great blogging pastors and staff members. I honestly wouldn't know where to start. I will say that Dino Rizzo, the lead pastor of Healing Place Church in Louisiana, is one of the best. He always takes the focus off of himself and points people to Christ and to Healing Place. At the same time, you really develop a personal connection with Dino, through his openness and honesty about great struggles and amazing triumphs. His writing throughout the Katrina disaster was truly moving and filled with faith and hope.

Cindy Solomon is editorial coordinator for Christian Advance.

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