At least once a month I consider giving up blogging all together. Every time I hit “publish” I realize I’m drawing a great big target on my back. The reason I keep doing it is because I try to focus on the 300-500 people a day who read this and the many who write me or comment to me saying what I’m writing is helpful to them in terms of thinking through what they believe. I’ve discovered it’s really a form of discipleship that didn’t exist ten years ago. For that reason I think pastors need to be blogging, and especially on controversial and relevant current event topics.
Twenty-years ago I read a book by professor and sociologist Tony Campolo called “Twenty Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to Touch!” It had chapters on whether or not a Christian should own a BMW, or whether it’s okay for a Christian to put their aging mother in the county home, etc, etc. But whether or not I agreed with his conclusions (a few I don’t) what I most remember from this book is that he had the guts to write it and I resolved at that point to be a pastor who isn’t swayed by the fear of man. So pastors… blog boldly!!
In my view, blogging time for pastors is no different than Bible study leading time or visitation time. Ten years ago I’d think I only touched a couple hundred people a week. However with this venue, that number increases at least tenfold. A man in our church told me that even though I was gone this summer, he stayed “well-fed” just by digesting what I put here. Another Christian in town here recently commented how thankful they were for this blog because their church didn’t feed them on Sunday. I wish I could say to their pastor…. Pastor, your sheep are starving and you are only bringing more straw for them to lay on. Lead them into a greener pasture and deeper waters. Shepherd’s, take up the rod and staff and give the wolf a good whack!
For a couple days now I’ve been sitting on a post on the topic of “Christians and social drinking” (I’ve decided I’ll publish that shortly). I’ve been hesitant because I don’t need any more headaches. If I say I’m okay with social drinking for example, those who aren’t let me know why (and some express their disagreement by disfellowshipping! No pastor wants that!). If I say it’s wrong, another whole group is frustrated because there is freedom in the Scriptures on this matter. So most pastors say nothing. I think what conclusions pastors draw on a particular topic aren’t nearly as important as modeling the process of Biblical thinking.
I’m speaking this fall on James and I’m already thinking about how I’ll tackle the taming the tongue texts in chapter 3. I do know I’ll share my own journey these past two years in taming my keyboard - I’ve tackled the most controverisal subjects in America on my blogs and have come a long way in discerning the difference between taking cheap shots and writing with prophetic boldness.
Yesterday on my pro-life blog I made the comment, “Am I the only one who actually contemplated reporting oneself to firstname.lastname@example.org? I’m happy to be on their enemies list and go on record as a lead opposer of such systemic evil.” Pastors, God calls you to be a watchman and sound the alarm if one bearing a sword comes in to slaughter. Pastors should be key to alerting the elderly in their congregations of the impending danger. Pastors ought to be the loudest opposers of such evil (opposing medical murder – letting the elderly and the disabled die, and killing the unborn). This health care bill is really cash for clunkers in that the old and infirmed (useless eaters) are taken off the streets! And the church is quiet?? Pastors, God is looking for your name on the white house enemies list. I couldn’t agree more with my friend Randy Bohlender on this topic today – Randy, thanks for blogging boldly and taking Jim Wallis & Co. to task!
A number of times as I’ve traveled our state talking with pastors one will make a comment that they don’t talk about subjects like abortion because there are folks in the church who’ve had them and they don’t want to make them uncomfortable. I’ve started to reply to that comment by asking what other parts of the Bible they avoid because people might get uncomfortable. I talk about this stuff boldly and have women I’ve never met come up to me months later to thank me “for saving them from their own private hell.” When I ask what they are talking about they say most pastors only talk about love and God and “I didn’t want God to love me or forgive me because I thought what I did was unforgivable.” They go on to say that me addressing this and taking them to the mercy seat of God brought them into a place of healing and peace with God that sitting in the controversy-free church never did. That’s the story I’m telling these days when people want me to just stick to “preaching the gospel.” The gospel has great application to the post-abortive and the unborn! Pastor, who aren’t you reaching because you are afraid to lay the gospel over-a-top the darkest places?
Those of you following this blog this summer know I spent the bulk of the summer in Europe (among other things) visting the Reformation sites and reading a sizable stack of books about the key players in the 16th century struggle to change Christianity in one generation. I read about (and could relate to) the bloody controversies and found myself asking God: why can’t it be easier? What I’m learning is that controversy is one of the ways God gets us 1) to dig deeper into what the Scriptures really say while at the same time giving us an opportunity 2) to walk in love with those who see it differently. In my view, believers in the 16th century were successful with the former and failed miserably at the latter. I’d like to see the 21st century church succeed at both.