ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–I am preparing to step into the blogosphere. Did I even spell that right? I admit to being technologically challenged. I still believe that one day I will figure out how to work that vexing VCR. It still startles me when my cell phone rings and there is no cord attached to it. I have kept my 8-track collection in hopes of a coming revival. I finally can work my Blackberry but I don’t know what two-thirds of the icons mean. And I hope we will stop creating new words like “blog” until I learn what all the ones we already have created mean.
Nevertheless, I feel compelled boldly to enter the technology of this millennium and add my stumbling efforts to the realm of cyberspace. I have been reading blogs almost daily now for many months and trying to learn the ropes before jumping in to the mix myself. It has been an interesting journey of discovery. It seems to me that blogging has changed the world as we know it. I am not sure the power of the phenomenon can be overestimated. Everyone with a computer can now be a commentator, a critic or even a movement launcher, with more people having instant access to his thoughts and ideas than previous generations could have comprehended. Everyone now can be a part of discussions and decisions once reserved for the elite few. This can be very good news, with awesome potential for evangelism, but like every other innovation, there are also significant dangers.
Fully realizing that I am a rookie at this (could “blookie” be a new word?) I thought I might offer for your consideration Ten Commandments of Blogging. Actually, since they are just my ideas off the top of my head, they could just be suggestions for you, but I hope they will function as commandments for me. Here they are:
1. Thou shalt not blog as if Matthew 18 does not apply to you while online. I have been somewhat shocked by the blatant gossip circles that many blogs have become. If we are not careful, blogging will just become a new way to destroy each other faster and with wider-reaching results. I have been amused to see several blog conversations that sounded like the old game, where one thing is repeated from person to person until it isn’t anything close to the original statement. But it isn’t amusing when those are lies about you or other brothers or sisters in Christ. It isn’t amusing to God, either. The Scriptures seem to view this kind of behavior as in the same class as sexual sin. If you haven’t talked to the person, don’t talk negatively about the person.
2. Thou shalt be a humble blogger. I don’t know everything and often not much of anything, and being online doesn’t make my prideful ego issues any less damaging to me or others.
3. Thou shalt not write things on a blog that you would be ashamed before God to have written. Let’s try to remember that what we write online will be public knowledge for the rest of our lives!
4. Thou shalt be a prayer blogger. I want to listen to the needs of people I can pray for and not just be online to speak my mind.
5. Thou shalt be a learner not a whiner. Some of the blogging I read is overwhelmingly negative. Is God not still at work in the world? I want to use blogs to learn what God is doing and how I can get in on it.
6. Thou shalt not be an anglocentric blogger. If we are serious about reaching our world, those of us who are anglos need seriously to address the issues involved in reaching ta ethna, all the people groups around us. Much of what I read on Christian blogs seems to be mostly about reaching people like me.
7. Thou shalt not be a generationally self-centered blogger. Much of what I have seen seems to denigrate what can be learned from an older generation. There are a lot of heroes who have gone before us that I still have a lot to learn from. On the other hand, I am real tired of listening to some older leaders bash a younger generation for contemporary methodology. I expect that the Creator God has a lot of creativity to teach me and I hope to learn it from all directions.
8. Thou shalt remember that being a young blogger does not equal being a young leader. Blogging can give you a platform beyond what you are ready for. It allows you to create an online persona of authority, wisdom and experience that may not exist. Let’s blog about our failures and be honest about how dumb we are much of the time. We will all learn more if we don’t brag online. (Would that be blagging?)
9. Thou shalt not neglect evangelistic blogging (blangelism!). What would happen if every blogger spent time not just on Christian sites but also dialoguing with seekers? What a great opportunity! Flood cyberspace with good news! And be sure that if a seeker checks out your blog, he or she doesn’t want to run and hide from Christians because of the content.
10. Thou shalt not spend more time blogging than you spend loving, serving and sharing Christ with people that you can touch, look at, laugh and cry with.
Well, I am sure that after I have blogged for a while I will need to edit this list. And forgive me in advance for occasionally breaking my own commandments.
Beginning Oct. 1, check out www.missionalnetwork.org where you will find my blog and others. You will also find a web community environment for idea sharing, relationship building, networking, coaching, on-demand downloads, articles and more. Let’s share our dreams and ideas to help each other evangelize, plant churches and send missionaries more effectively and innovatively. And most of all, let’s use all the resources of technology God gives us to make evangelism good news again.
John Avant is vice president for evangelization at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.