At the risk of being redundant, I wanted to share a few more thoughts on blogging, in response to a question I received from Steve. He wrote, “Is there the potential for there to be recognized "elders" among Christian bloggers? I wonder what that would look like, and if it would help foster a more healthy "community" here in cyberspace?”
I want to take Steve’s question to address the larger issue of what blogs can accomplish. Let me respond to the second question first. What would a healthy community in cyberspace look like?
Excellent question. I’m not sure how much of a healthy community CAN exist in cyberspace. Any community I experience with people over the Web is going to be severely limited at best. Community requires “doing life” together – praying together, eating together, evangelizing together, serving together, worshipping God together. The key word here is “together.” It involves much more than exchanging information over the Internet.
I may read blogs from across the world, and they might read mine, but how much community am I truly experiencing with them? They only know of me what I choose to put on my blog, and whatever else they’ve researched about me. I can be influenced by bloggers. I can gain valuable information from bloggers. I can be drawn to love and know my Savior better through other bloggers. However, I’m not sure I can experience real community with them.
The people who I share community with are those who live with and near me. Like my wife and children. Or the members of my small group and my fellow pastors. Or the people who see me almost every day at Covenant Life Church. These are the people in my community.
If I experience a greater sense of community with those I interact with through the Internet, I need to study passages like Romans 12, Ephesians 4-5, and 1 Peter 2, and a host of other Scriptures that describe God’s intentions for the local church. While I may identify with someone of a common interest over the Internet, that hardly qualifies as true Christian community. Those in my community see me at my worst, challenge and encourage me in daily life, observe how I live, and can exercise discipline if I am engaging in unrepentant sin. The kind of community requires a church, not simply an Internet connection. (I’d like to write much more on this, but my son, Devon, is getting married on Sunday, and the weekend is kind of full….)
Now the second question – Is there a potential to be recognized “elders” among Christian bloggers.?
In the few months I’ve been reading blogs, I’ve noticed that some are referenced much more often than others. Over the long run, I imagine it will become evident who has something to say and who doesn’t. Perhaps those bloggers will be recognized as “authoritative voices” in the blogosphere.
But, it seems wise for every Christian who writes a blog to be accountable to a pastor or leader or someone they respect in their local church rather than someone they’ve never met. Is it unwise, and possibly arrogant, to share my thoughts with the “world” when they haven’t been received by those who know me best? It’s a question worth asking. I suspect that if we had our pastor or someone we respect take a look at our blogs prior to posting, we’d have a significant reduction in the number of blogs being written, but a welcome rise in the quality.
Many people are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the potential for community that the Internet provides. We can hear from people all over the world talk about any and every issue. We don’t have to be restricted to what the “experts” think anymore. We can hear from the people!
Here’s the problem. Increasing the number of people talking doesn’t automatically increase the quality of the conversation. Judging from many blog comments I’ve read through, it only adds to the confusion.
Let’s thank God that blogs are very good for certain things: communicating helpful information, perspectives, and resources in a timely, broad, and inexpensive way. But let’s not expect it to accomplish what the local church is meant to do – provide both covering and community for those who worship Jesus Christ.