This week my good friend Derek Brown will be guest-blogging for me. We got to know each other during a summer missions trip to New Zealand in 2000 and have remained good friends ever since. Derek is married to Amy and currently attends Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville after serving as a middle school pastor for several years in the Bay Area. He is humble, passionate, purposeful, disciplined, and funny, and his love for Christ has always been strong and evident. He is someone I can honestly say I hope to be like. On top of that, he’s a thoughtful and clear writer, and he blogs intermittently at From the Study.
BLOGGING AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
by Derek Brown
Around this time last year Fox News reported that a severed foot washed ashore off the coast of British Columbia, making it the fifth foot to show up off the coast of British Columbia in a year. Investigators treated the incident as a criminal investigation. But let me posit this question: why are they treating the discovery of a severed human foot as a criminal investigation? Why is this even in the news? I mean, it’s just a foot. What’s wrong with a foot? The problem, of course, is not the foot — it’s the fact that the foot is not attached to a human being. This makes it news. This makes it a possible crime scenario. This makes it gruesome — not the foot, but the reality that it is not attached to a body.
It is this kind of lovely imagery that makes Paul’s illustration of the Church in I Corinthians 12:12-31 so powerful. Here Paul compares the Church — the community of believers — to a human body. Like the human body, there are different members in the Church, each with his or her own gift and function. Although some members of the human body differ in terms of prominence (everybody can see the mouth, but nobody can see the stomach), each member is important. And, whenever a member (like a foot) is removed from the body, the body is left with a kind of deformity, and long gazes at the detached limb usually lead to nausea. Why? Because feet were meant to be attached to a body.
So it is with the body of Christ. When a member is severed from the rest of the body, that is, cut off from regular fellowship with believers, corporate worship, and the accountability of the local church and her leaders, not only is that church affected, but that person begins to look unnatural and out of place. Usually, when Christians remove themselves from the regular fellowship and accountability of the local church, pride begins to fester, sin takes deeper root, and strange beliefs tend to wedge their way into the wandering Christian’s heart and mind. I’ve seen it happen many times.
With this in mind, I would like to suggest that blogging, because it can serve as a mode of both social interaction and spiritual teaching, is something that all Christians should bring under the accountability of their local church. It can be very easy to “cut ourselves off” from other Christians who would otherwise hold us to a Biblical standard in regards to our writing because we want to create an online facade and portray ourselves as someone we are not. We may fear to have our poor teaching exposed or our inappropriate conduct called into question. We may like to sound spiritual online, but we are afraid that our friends at church know the real story.
Whatever the temptation, I would say that it is patently unwise to blog without the accountability of our local churches. If you find yourself hesitating to tell your Bible study leader or church elder or pastor about your blog, then you probably need to sincerely question both your motive for blogging and the content of your blog.
Positively, I would suggest that we need to open ourselves up to the scrutiny of other the believers in our local church, and invite them to regularly peruse our blogs so that they might offer insight, correct errors, point out misguided and harsh words, and help keep us be faithful to honor Jesus Christ in our blogging. I do not think that all of us need to tell the senior pastor about our blogs — they are busy enough already — but I would recommend that we seek out those who are either older than we are or in a kind of leadership position over us, whether it is an elder, a Bible study leader, small group leader, or ministry leader. We should invite them to offer helpful comments, suggestions for improvement, and constructive criticism. We should allow them to look thoroughly into our web-world so that they can make sure we are the same person online as we are offline.
Some of us may find out we should stop blogging because the temptations to sin and hypocrisy far outweigh the benefits we think we are getting from this form of social media. Some may be encouraged to keep blogging, and to blog more often! Whatever the case, how we live online has everything to do with our relationship with and our witness for Christ; as such, we need to bring our blogs under the accountability of the local church.
Our hearts are deceptive. Sin is deceitful. We need each other. Go tell someone about your blog.