When I was young, my grandpa was my pastor. I remember there was a ministry/outreach technique (if you want to call it that) that he implemented in our church. It was the Minute Message. The minute message was a short (90 seconds max) tape recorded message each week and you could call the number and listen to a devotional. (I would be interested to know if they had or thought about any of the tracking that we do today to test how many different calls came in from how many different numbers etc. However, that doesn’t matter.) The point was to give out the number and the congregation could call and get encouragement and be fed in another way throughout the week.
Today, we are far past the age of dialing a number, and standing next to the wall to listen to a message. The internet has changed our lives, and though we could reasonably expect the modern day minute message to be a video devotional, the actual practice has in many cases turned to blogging.
The blog has become the place to go for extra information outside of your church. Now your pastor can write down some thoughts from his studies and they can be on your screen in an instant. You aren’t tied to a wall (phones were back then) but can check these from any computer and most phones. The process of checking for a new message is a simple sign up using a subscription or a tool such as Google Reader (my recommendation if you follow many people). It becomes easy and hassle free.
Maybe your pastor doesn’t blog, you can find another pastor who does. Your pastor mentions a name from the pulpit and you find his blog that afternoon. In short, the amount of information we have coming in has grown exponentially. Blogs differ from radio and TV in that they are not scheduled programming. You can read a blog in the middle of the night or the middle of the work day. Blogs are all around.
If the minute message was a useful tool 20+ years ago, then the blog can be useful today. The ability to reach beyond your normal sphere of influence is something that can have a great impact if used carefully. While many blog about their hobbies or for themselves, the blog can be a tool used for the expanse of the Kingdom of God.
This plethora of information requires a caution to readers however. When you had to stand next to the wall and dial to hear the minute message, you didn’t just dial random numbers and hope to listen to anyone’s message. The people knew who they were dialing, what the church stood for, and were expecting something from the Scripture. With the influx of information and the proliferation of the internet, finding new or out of the way articles, blogs, videos, or news has become almost a trait to be prized.This leads to many less than wholesome ideas being presented before you.
The encompassing nature of the internet demands caution in what you read. As you wouldn’t just dial any number to listen to a message where you had no clue regarding the source, you need to take into consideration where you are spending your time online. Blogs can be useful, but they can also be harmful and dangerous. There is a tendency to read things that you might not listen to people say. People full of complaints or bitterness are not fun to be around, but to read their complaints is easier. It still has its effect. Just because it is on the other side of the screen does not mean it will not influence your views and your life.
A blog is a useful tool. A tool that in some cases should not be neglected, and in others that is optional. Whether you are writing devotional style, deep theology, or just posting a favorite verse, you can minister to people around you through this means.
For readers, take encouragement and learning from the many ways God has provided for more information and deeper study. Be careful though what you read. Just as we must filter what books, magazines, television, movies, preaching, and everything else in our lives, blogs must be filtered as well. Read with discernment. Even good blogs that are usually on can miss the mark. As the Bereans searched the Scriptures when Paul preached, we must exercise wisdom in what we accept and reject from all our information sources.