The other day a blogging friend of mine asked a few of us other bloggers why we blog. He wanted to know our purposes and motivations for all the time and effort we put into the practice. What drives us? What do we hope to gain from it at the end of the day?
Although there are likely more, after a little thought, I came up with four basic reasons I blog and it turns out that in the long run, they all end up helping me do my job as a pastor better. I figured I’d share them here with you. Maybe it’ll re-invigorate your own blogging, or encourage some of you to pick up the practice for yourself.
1. I Like Thinking Things. I think and read a lot. Communicating what I read and think about tends to be fruitful way for me to process it. That said, to be perfectly honest, I can’t preach half of what I think about. I mean, can you imagine me unleashing a talk on theological epistemology on my college kids? That’d be just abusive. Until I get into a Ph.D. program or something like that, blogging is an intellectual outlet for me to rip into some of the nerdier, or less immediately relevant theological and cultural analysis I might be tempted to engage in. In that way, it’s kind of a nice little intellectual pressure release for me.
2. Directly Serving the Church. The second reason I blog is that I think that it can directly serve the Church in general and my church in particular. I can think of at least three ways this happens:
- For one, some of my students, especially my away-at-college students, tell me they read the blog occasionally, and so hopefully they’re learning from some of what I’m addressing. It’s one way for me to keep teaching them, even when I don’t have their butts in the seats right in front of me.
- Next, some of the stuff I hammer out on the blog actually does make it’s way into my preaching eventually. Just this last week I was doing some research for an article I was writing that ended up dovetailing perfectly with my sermon. This happens regularly enough, that I can safely say my writing has helped improve and expand the wealth of material that I’ve actually processed and insights gained to be redeployed in direct ministry context. In other words, writing helps me be a more insightful preacher and pastor.
- As for the broader Church, I know I’ve gained from other pastors and theologians who have tackled issues online that I have been grappling with, or didn’t even realize I should be. Without presuming too much, I hope my own writing contributes to blessing the church at large, both through the edification of their elders, or by directly addressing theological and practical questions in a popular form. My hope is that this blesses the life of the broader Church as it is built up in the knowledge of Christ.
3. Stewardship of God’s Gifts And Sanctification. Next, if God has given me an ability to communicate, it’s actually just responsible to continue to steward it and develop that gift. Blogging is a way to keep developing my skills as a writer and a communicator. What’s more, it’s pushed me character-wise as I’ve engaged in the broader community, and connected me with other like-minded (and not-so-like-minded) brothers and sisters who have helped develop and shape my thought, I think, for the better.
I can’t tell you how much of a blessing my Christ and Pop Culture team has been to me, or the growth I’ve had in working with the crews at The Gospel Coalition or Mere Orthodoxy. I think my church has, in some ways, a holier pastor because of the writing. (Which, based on my writing, might raise the question of just how bad was I before I started?)
4. Joy. Finally, I blog because I enjoy it. Honestly, I don’t know about everybody else, but once I started writing, it started getting addictive. Yes, the prideful stuff like page-views and twitter-followers is there too. I’ve been sanctified in Christ and yet, I am still being sanctified, right? Still, the pure joy of crafting an argument and turning a phrase is just enjoyable. Some articles can be a task and dull at times, but fundamentally, the practice of writing is something I have come to love doing for its own sake.
But how does this play into my pastoring? Well, overall joy and emotional health stemming from one practice in my life, spreads into other areas. The stress relieved, or joy derived from some time writing gives me energy to tackle some of the pastoral tasks that can threaten it, or just leave me tired.
As always, there’s more to say, but I’ll leave it there for now.
Soli Deo Gloria