Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, iOS, the Web—these were all strange guests in my home at one time. Now they are my friends. Where did they come from, and what could they mean in your life and ministry?
Blogging was the first alien invader. Back in the 90s I started searching for information on evangelism and outreach on the Internet. I discovered blogs, as they would come to be known—web journals updated daily or weekly. (The word blog is a blending of the term “web log.”) Some blogs told stories of sharing one’s faith in a manner I knew could work for me. So I read more. It dawned on me that I could also write blogs by sharing my own stories. I started this back in the late 90s and now maintain several blogs that receive thousands of visits each month.
What do these blogs actually accomplish? They create what some call “ambient findability,” the ability to locate anything or anyone online. An Internet site is like a pamphlet or short paper that goes online and is multiplied many times over. As word spreads that your paper is free and readily available, more and more people show up to read it. It helps to have something good to say. It also helps to listen. The bloggers who have the most to say have also learned to listen well to their readers, thereby earning the right to speak and share.
Listed in the sidebar are some of my favorite blogs. When you are ready to be found, there is a resource list of sites to help you start your own blog. As a pastor, I carry a message on my heart each day, centered in Jesus and His cross. I love to share His love in any way I can. Blogging allows me to communicate that message with a much wider audience. Blogging is no longer foreign to me; in fact it’s quite a friend.
I average 15-20 minutes a day blogging. If you’ve got something to say and are creative enough to say it often, blogging could be for you too.
Facebook appeared on the scene in 2004. Its user base has expanded faster and farther than anyone could imagine—750 million to date have signed up. If you want to make new friendships, restore old ones, share information or stories, gather an audience, or just see what others are doing, Facebook is probably the best place to be. Sign up and see what’s going on. If you want to remain private and out of the spotlight, you can maintain a low profile on Facebook.
I spend just five minutes or less a day on Facebook since I don’t care to tell all the personal details of my life, like some do. But my Facebook page gets lots of traffic because my blog posts show up there. It’s all automated. I don’t ever have to open Facebook, but my blog posts are fed to my page and then they are seen from there. I have this done with other feeds like Twitter as well (see below). You could say my use of Facebook is automated. If someone wants to converse with me about my posts, I do get an automatic email from them, to which I can respond.
As a pastor, I want to keep connected with the lives of my church members—their troubles, birthdays, travels, hopes and dreams. Facebook lets me comment on what’s happening in their lives while also offering opportunities for spiritual conversation. This ministry aspect of Facebook is wonderful. While nothing can replace home visitation, Facebook can help pastors know who needs a visit and how to make it count.
Facebook can become a tool of intensive ministry, which might take up time in one’s busy schedule. But if the focus is kept on ministry, that time can be well spent.
Free blogging resources:
This is first in a two part series; to access part two click here.
Besides pastoring New Creation and Capitol View churches in Lincoln, Nebraska, Marty Thurber ministers through the social media.