Pastor, Get on the Internet

And I don’t just mean buy a computer and start doing email. Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere the last decade, you’re already doing that.

I mean, start a blog. Your own.

This morning, less than a half-hour ago, while sitting at the breakfast table talking with Margaret about this day, my phone rang. The screen said, “Unknown.” When I answered, a lady with a British accent announced she was looking for me, and then identified herself as with the BBC in London. She is doing research for a program they are airing during the noon hour today on the Pope’s statements that the Cuban blockade should be lifted.

Why ask for my thoughts?

She had found an article on my website saying the church needs to stay out of politics, that we have more important matters on our agenda. So, did I think that about the Pope speaking out concerning Cuba? (I wasn’t much help. The Vatican is recognized as a state, the Pope is the head of that state as well as the head of the Catholic religion, thus he addresses both kinds of issues. I said, “So, if you’re looking for someone to take an adversarial position, I won’t be of much help to you.”)

I gave her the name of another minister she could call, and we ended the call.

One more example of the wide scope of the internet.

Two nights ago, I returned from ministering in Italy. It was the result of an American pastor serving in the northern part of that country reading an article I’d written–I have no memory of which one–and going to my website, seeing I was also a cartoonist, and feeling led to invite me to speak at the annual Leadership Conference of pastors and spouses of the International Baptist Convention on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. A once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never forget.

Thanks be to God. Thanks for the internet.

Any pastor with a computer and a modem (meaning he’s now on-line) has access to just about all the information there is on most things.

Pastors research sermons on line. They do not have to buy the books.

Pastors read (and hear) sermons on line. They do not have to visit other churches.

However, what I would like to do is urge pastors to get a website of their own–preferably one with a simple address which means easy access–where they can post their own insights and convictions.

First, what that does not mean….

–Pastor, do not post every word of every sermon. If the heathen think multiplying words to God makes their prayers more powerful on arriving in Heaven, there is a similar virus that makes us think readers will be needing my every remark delivered from Sunday’s pulpit. Not so.

Make it concise and to the point.

–Do not give us your political opinions. You are a preacher. No one is interested in what you think of the president. Sorry to be blunt. Keep telling everyone around you what you think of congress and Washington D.C., and even if you are sometimes on the money, you will lose your edge when it comes time to share God’s Word. Save your breath for the important stuff: the Gospel.

–Do not run people down. Even if you have found a flaw in (insert name of some well-known preacher or preacherette here)’s messages, neither the website nor the pulpit is the place to issue your judgements. Preach the word.

Your website is a great place to post discoveries you have made about the Word, insights the Holy Spirit has taught you regarding the Christian life, and new convictions you have arrived at or feel more strongly about than ever before. It’s also a great place to tell lessons you learned the hard way.

Recently, I posted on Facebook an abbreviated conversation between an editor and me. It went something like this….

Editor: “Can you give us an article on what makes preaching powerful?”

Me: “No. That would assume I think my preaching is powerful, and I don’t care to be in that position.”

Editor: “What kind of article can you give us about preaching?”

Me: “Oh, my greatest mistakes in preaching, the time I publicly humiliated myself from the pulpit, or the time my wife got up and walked out in the middle of my sermon.”

What surprised me about the responses is the number of people who said, “Okay, I want to see the article on your wife walking out on you while you were preaching.”

Here’s a major point you should not miss in your blogging: People in ministry do not care for one more success story about ‘How I doubled our attendance in 24 hours or less.’ But if you have tried something and failed and learned a great lesson, they will read every word of your article.

Why is that? A lot of reasons, I suppose, but for one thing, most readers (we’re talking about preachers now) are not mega-church pastors. They live in a constant struggle to find how to pastor their people and grow their churches and build their sermons. They identify with embarrassments and failures.

The most popular articles on are on subjects like “the hardest funeral I ever preached,” “the worst sermon I ever preached,” and such.

Now, don’t do autopsies on yourself. No one wants to hear your deep confessions of spiritual failures. But if you do tell some of them, emphasize the lessons learned and the way you found God to be faithful.

Go back and read Psalm 73 from time to time. The Psalmist had thought of being a little too confessional in his spiritual doubts. He went into the House of God to worship and there he had a change of heart. God showed him what he was missing. The heart of that psalm is verse 15: If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ behold I would have been untrue to the generation of your children.

Some things you keep to yourself. If you bought a sexy magazine or novel and later repented of it and tossed it away and God forgave you, do not tell us about it. If you had a lustful thought about someone who came to you for counseling or whom you saw in the airport, again, do not tell us. We do not need to hear it. Most of your members (and readers) know you are human, but you will unsettle the mind and heart of the weak among your constituents and impair your ability to minister to them.

So, be careful trying to shock anyone.

In fact, get a partner or mentor to read everything you post for a year or so. If he/she expresses doubt that a certain thing should be posted, remove it.

Find someone you trust implicitly and submit to them. After a time, you will have found your calling, spotted your strength, and learned your readers. This is when you will do your best work.

Have fun with it. Blogging is a wonderful way to leave a record behind for your children and grandchildren too.

Once you hit the advanced age of 72–yesterday for me!–that will matter more than you ever suspected.

3 thoughts on “Pastor, Get on the Internet

  1. Here’s another internet advantage for pastors–the ability to put audio and video of one’s sermons online in a cost-effective way. We started posting sermons about a year ago, and I’ve been amazed at how it has expanded the reach of my preaching way beyond our local church. Plus, it’s a lot easier and cheaper than most people realize, especially if one already has a website. Our biggest expense was a digital recorder for our sound room ($800, but one can accomplish the same function with a $150 cd recorder). We found some inexpensive audio editing software (about $50) to help clean up the messages before posting them. There are a variety of options for getting the material on the internet; for example, we use, a free service provided by Lifeway. To really spice things up, we produced an intro/outro containing our church’s contact info ($50 for a professional announcer to read the copy + a free music bed we got from a songwriter looking to build his resume). Not everyone may want to go as elaborate as we did, but I think a lot of churches are missing out on an opportunity to expand their reach because they think only a megachurch could pull something like this off.

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