Monday, February 05, 2007

Midwinter 2007: back in the nest

Each year I dread the amount of time and energy it takes to go the the Covenant Midwinter Conference. It's so inconvenient. There is so much to do around the church. The costs take a bite out of the budget. But...I get to see my son, my brother, my best friend and a whole bunch of other friends and colleagues over the years.
This year I heard Chap Clark speak on the challenge of Student Ministry to the growing spread of the population called adolescent: 12-25 years old. He is an author worth reading and speaker well worth listening to. I enjoy Matt Luundgren and his high-energy worship band, singing fluently in Spanish and English (which reinforces my decision to take Spanish classes). I get so much out of the Youth Workers Connection, maybe because Luke is with me, but also because I draw on their energy.
As I'm writing this in the lobby of the Adam's Mark Hotel, Donnn Engebretsen stopped on his way through to chat with me (we skiied together at Breckenridge on Saturday with a bus load of youth pastors...talk about energy!!). He sends grreetings to you all, though he is not blogging yet (but I told him he really should) You readers should send words of encouragement to Donn and Glenn Palmberg to start blogging so we can visit with them regularly. I just visited with another Superintendent and I asked him if he blogged. "No, I don't do that stuff..don't have time. The Conference has a web site, but I don't have time to blog." What a poor answer!
The next generation of leaders need to get their ideas and presence out there on the web so that those who cannot afford to attend Midwinters and can't be part of the face-to-face circle, can participate. Maybe refusing to blog is a form of reverse elitism. If blogging is easy and it makes me accessible, then refusing to blog keeps me aloof and removed, hard to get to and unwilling to engage in open dialogue.


At 7:42 AM , Blogger Gary Means said...

I think that there's a widespread (but diminishing) perception out there that blogging is for narcissists or teen-aged girls or messed-up people who really need to get a life. I also think it's viewed as being very prosaic, something pedestrian that only the unwashed masses engage in. There are a lot of blogs out there which are a total waste of bytes. But there are also those which make me think. Of course, yours is one of those.

In considering this issue, I tried to envision the senior pastor at one my former churches blogging. I'm sure that he loves the Lord deeply. He's a faithful Covenanter too. But the image of him blogging just didn't fit. Blogging is for people who are more on the extrovert side of the scale. The pastor I am thinking of is definitely an introvert and a control freak. It seems strange to me that an introvert would choose the pastorate as a career. But for so many decades, at least in the evangelical world, if you were "really serious" about your faith, you demonstrated that by becoming a pastor or a missionary. And, of course, God does actually call some people into service to be shepherds even if they are introverts.

You said, "If blogging is easy and it makes me accessible". Again, thinking of my former pastor, I cannot envision him relinquishing that much control. I can imagine him thinking that to make himself that accessible would be to invite unfettered chaos into his life. Of course, he would use the "too busy" excuse, because I don't think he sees himself as a control freak.

I think there is something about blogging which invites transparency and vulnerability. In talking with a close friend who is a Covenant Pastor, he shared that he has learned how dangerous it can be to be transparent as a pastor. He and I can be totally real with one another, but he is careful to maintain a professional distance with most congregants. My friend does not view his role as an exalted position above his parishioners, but he has learned that there are expectations that he maintain a certain image, both from within the body and at higher levels.

Returning to the example of my former pastor, I can imagine his reluctance to blog because it might even make him look just like any other Christian, instead of "THE PASTOR".

I think that another thing which keeps people away from blogging is the fear factor. There is a learning curve to blogging. Those of us in the blogosphere know that it's not that difficult, but I was intimidated at first. I had to make the commitment to learn something new.

Or, perhaps it's the cobbler's children going barefoot. A person who makes a living communicating might want a break from that.

But some people are genuinely overburdened. I remember when Glenn Palmberg was superintendent here in the Pacific Northwest, at lunch one day he said that when he returned to the office he would probably have many phone messages to deal with, (he did name a significant number, but I can't remember what it was) not to mention e-mails. If he was that busy when he was a superintendent, I wonder how busy he is now?

Perhaps my cynic's hat is on too tight today.

Donn, it has been a pleasure to read your blog because you do come across as genuine, humble, and uninterested in polishing a pastoral image.

Why did you choose to begin blogging? How, and when, were you introduced to blogging? Are your reasons for blogging different now than they were when you began?

At 11:57 AM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Thanks again for your thoughtful reply. I chose to blog because my sons urged me to try. I am more of an introvert by nature. I go down to the meetings, visit a while, then escape back to my room for some quiet time, then out again. The reason why I feel it's so important for leaders is the open-mmarketplace of ideas. Is it threatening? Sure. But,hey, grow up, the world is threatening. These are good and strong leaders who are getting slammed all the time for stuff they don't even support. Why not urge them to take the lead and get out in front of new initiatives, ideas, ministries and missions?
I don't buy the too busy idea. They have enough time to watch the Super Bowl, and hang out with friends and colleagues. This response took all of 5 minnutes. you deserve that!

At 4:21 PM , Anonymous Isaac said...

first, to answer Gary's guestion, It took Don getting _decent hardware_ to blog. Not to take a shot at his last church, but the "computer" (im doing double quotes with my fingers on that) was so miserable, there was no way he could functionally office on it, let alone blog. When he got a decent rig (Apple iBook), he really took off.

Once he had the hardware that enabled him to actually do stuff, he did so. He's still a geek in training, but i imagine its only a year or so off till he's doing his own podcasts, maybe even vidcasts.

Now I mention this because I think the number 1 and 2 reasons more pastors dont blog is:

1. they dont have the adequate hardware to blog (if your church is running on a shared 19.2k dialup with antiquated PCs, even getting email is a burden.)

2. they dont know how to work a computer (which if they dont have equipment, they cant really learn how to use it)

Now I may be in the minority, but the last time I moved and was church shopping, i focused on those in my area that had websites - i wanted to see what i was walking into. They had to have a mission statement (that I could deal with) and appear to be accepting in nature. I would not have even considered a church without a functional website (doesnt have to be flashy - but it has to deliver the basics: who are you, what do you stand for, when are your services, photos - bullitens - anything i can use to find out more about the people that comprise it).

Blogging is to email as email was to phones 5 years ago. In relatively short order, it will be another expected avenue of communication.


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