This morning, as I was headed to church, I began thinking about the differences between preaching and blogging. It was kind of a follow-on thought to a conversation Ann and I had the day before.
Saturday, we were at church so that she could practice the song she was planning to sing this morning at church. While she was working on that, I was tinkering with the sound system. I do this for two reasons. The first is that it keeps the church sound man hopping on Sundays. Sometimes hopping mad, but always hopping. The second is that we're striving to record our Sunday services so that we have both a taped record of what happens and we digitally record them on my laptop. These digital recordings become our church podcast.
The challenge is that I'm the one who understands the digital recording software and the laptop used for it. I am, however, a wee bit busy during the Sunday services, especially the sermon part, which is what we record to podcast. (We're cautious of doing the singing due to copyright laws.) So, I only have time to try and get it doing what I want it doing is when someone else is singing, talking, preaching, or the like. As I don't typically have someone else preaching when I'm here these days, that's out. It's too zany to keep running up and down during the rest of the service, and it's pretty distracting at that.
What Ann and I talked about after I spent some time on that was the fact that our sound system, as it's configured, is inadequate to the task of both doing good live sound and making a fully satisfactory recording. If we spent a little bit more money here and there, it might get better, but it's just not up to the task. However, the one thing that we cannot do is destroy our live services for the sake of the recording. While we find there are some people interested in the recording, it's not our primary purpose to put out a web worship service.
Just like it's not my primary purpose to blog. Both of these activities are not inherently bad, and can extend the impact of our church and my own preaching/writing well beyond Monticello.
However, just like I can't demolish our sound system or insist we spend $5,000 to install a parallel recording system, I can't spend all my time blogging. It's fun, but blogging isn't pastoring. This is both good and bad for the blogging.
It's good because I'll do things when I blog that I won't do when preaching. I'm generally more inclined to preach a series through a Bible book and take whatever comes. Other preachers pick topics, but I try to do whatever the text is about. When I blog, I'll blog on a topic. I'll take an illustration and find a way to make an application. I've been trying to dial back the politics in my preaching, but not so much in my blogging.
It's bad because sometimes I let the axe I have to grind in my blogging distract me from doing sermon prep work. It's bad that I am sometimes more concerned about my blog reader stats than my church's health. It's bad because I'll assume that people have read my blog and they haven't. Then I'll say something, expect them to understand and they don't. It's also bad because the truth is, I'm not paid to blog. I'm paid to pastor. Now, you can slice that however you want to, but there was not one person at Calvary Baptist that voted to call me as a pastor and hoped they would get someone with hip, updated web content in the bargain.
They called on me to provide solid, sound Biblical preaching and teaching, guidance and counsel, to this church. So, that's my first purpose. If I can use blogs and podcasts to help with that, then I will. If they get in the way, they've got to be discarded.
How about you? What things are you doing that are, in fact, a distraction from what you are supposed to be doing? What ways have you perhaps made secondary issues your main focus? Allow the tools and secondary activities to help with your goals, but don't let the side lines of life pull you off your path.
Stick with what you know you're supposed to be doing.