by Terry Wilhite
My recent article on Web logs—blogs—prompted more response than any article that I've written over the past dozen years. Within just a few days, more than 4,000 people had visited my own blog (www.terrywilhite.com/blogger.html) and the article eventually reached more than one-million readers through syndication. Many of them— your pastor colleagues—wrote to request additional information regarding this extremely hot topic for ministry.
Blogging is simply an electronic form of journaling and the best way to learn more about it is to take a trip to the best pastor blog that I've seen. The blog is called Between Sundays and is written by Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark. You'll find his blog by using a link from Springdale's home page at www.fbcs.net. (Springdale's Website itself is one of the best I've seen.) I hope you'll pay attention to the things that I believe make Pastor Floyd's site the best, and incorporate these strategies into your own blog.
First, his Website has the perfect title: Between Sundays. It's a great title because for those of us in ministry, the purpose of a blog is to build relationships between Sundays. Floyd covers everything from staff relocations to football, lots of football, to places he's been and people he's seen. He uses his blog to be a proud grandfather. Although I plan to soon, I've never spoken with Pastor Floyd or attended his church, but I can tell you this: I like the guy. I feel like I know him and if I was ever in his neck of the woods, you can rest assured, his church would be the one I attended—which brings up another function of a blog in ministry. A blog can build a bridge to the lost and unchurched in a non-threatening, personal way.
You never really see this evangelistic effort blatantly in his site. I'm not even sure that he's thought about his blog being used for evangelism. It just happens naturally. Although he certainly covers spiritual issues and has an abundance of practical advice, he doesn't preach to me in his blog. (A blog is not the forum for a sermon). But he casually and informally welcomes me into his personal life and allows me to become a part of his family. For instance, a day-by-day account following the death of his father is chronicled in a fashion that lets me share his pain. In short, his entries are the perfect balance of ministry and real life in written form.
Another strength of this blog is Floyd's use of pictures. Here's a secret: If you want any communication piece to relate—especially blogs—always use real people pictures (with permission, of course). In fact, his own photo, which appears to be taken on a beach, is just right. It doesn't look "pastoral" and doesn't place him near or behind the pulpit because, remember, this blog is "between Sundays."
Pastor Floyd also knows how to use bolding and bulleting. Nobody wants to read a long-winded blog. Some of his blog entries are a tad on the lengthy side, but they work extremely well because he starts off key points by bolding text, and emphasizes nuggets of information by using bullet points. On some of his entries he allows a blogging feature that is optional per entry: reader comments. One visitor writes: "Enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for being transparent and pointing to an inspiring book!" Others laud him for his football picks. (Be very careful with sports! If not handled well, it can be the most divisive topic on the planet.)
I like the sidebar feature that shows me the book that he's reading at the moment, plus he displays additional resources for my consideration. Underneath are links to instructions explaining how I can configure Google to assemble a page of my favorite blog entries every day without me having to round them up.
Because it's simply impossible to show you how to set up a blog in a forum such as this, I am producing a DVD resource I am making available at a low cost that can help you have an effective blogging ministry. Please visit my Website for ordering information.