Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Rob Bell on blogging

The January-February issue of Relevant Magazine includes an interview with Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill in Michigan. Part of his response to the question of how he deals with criticism is:

"When the followers of Jesus can think of nothing better to do with their time than to pick apart and shred to pieces the work of other followers of Jesus who are trying to do something about the world, that's tragic . . . When a Christian can find nothing better to do with their time in the face of this much pain and heartbreak, you start realizing some Christians need to be saved. . . You have to be totally disconnected from the pain of the world to think that blogging is somehow a redemptive use of your time. I guess I have some strong thoughts on that." (emphasis mine).

Question: How can blogging be a redemptive use of your time? What are the unique temptations that blogging can present to Christians?


United Method said...

I haven't read the article yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Rob Bell obviously feels that talking about an issue is not the same as doing something about it (the temptation for Christians is to talktalktalk). But for a guy who writes books and makes flashy videos (called nooma's for anyone living in a cave) you would think he would have emphasized the ability for communication to bring redemption and alter people's perceptions of reality to the point that we Christians get off our tails and do God's work. Blogging can be redemptive because it is a new medium for us to test the waters before we go doing crazy things in the name of Christ (build community, bridge gaps, reconcile, etc).

Yeah, some of us need to get out from behind the computer screen once in a while, but that doesn't mean blogging is a waste of time.

Dan Trabue said...

Blogging is not a waste of time for at least three reasons::

1. It gives me a chance to practice writing and thinking. The former being something I dig and would like to do more of and the latter being something I need to do more of regardless of whether I want to or not.

2. I've developed genuine friendships online. The only thing that keeps me and some of my online friends from meeting regularly and breaking bread together is distance.

3. It gives me an opportunity to engage in conversations with folk who are different from me and whom I would have a difficult time otherwise engaging. The so-called Left and Right oftentimes travel in different circles and it is good for us to air our differences, says I.

Is blogging going to save the world? No, of course not. But for me it's a good spiritual discipline.

Before blogging, I journaled and that was a spiritual discipline for me. Blogging is like that, except that it has the added twist of getting regular critiquing and that is not a bad thing.

Elizabeth said...

That's a disappointing sentence! I agree with Dan's comments. For me, blogging is definitely a spiritual discipline, and it is certainly a way of building relationships and a community, albeit a different kind of community. And I definitely have better relationships with people of a wide variety of viewpoints and experiences than I would in my own small daily sphere. I think, as a pastor, it also allows me a forum for speaking about issues that I have on my mind that don't always find a place elsewhere in my ministry. Oh well.

Art said...

I agree with the previous comments. Bell's criticism seems a bit hypocritical to me.

John said...

Ditto what Dan said. And Rob Bell accusing others of being critical...if that ain't the pot calling the kettle black.

jimmorrow said...

I think Rob has a point here, but it doesn't fully or adequately come out in his statement.

However, I like John's question better.

"Question: How can blogging be a redemptive use of your time? What are the unique temptations that blogging can present to Christians?"

This is a good way to avoid bashing Bell and think about the actual issue.

Blogging presents me with a pretty full range of ideas, theologies, and experiences with issues that I haven't even dreamed about experiencing yet. I have brothers and sisters that are doing the same thing I am doing and I am not alone in the struggles. I see problems and their solutions. I see praises and prayers.

Blogging is not for every Christian. For some it is more damning than redemptive.

John said...

However, I like John's question better.

Larry's question.

larry said...

I should have put more emphasis in the initial post that these words from Bell were in response to how he deals with critics. Is it fair to assume that he has more than his fair share of critics among bloggers?

I think one of the downfalls of blogging (and every other medium of communication to some degree - blogging is not unique here) is that people dialogue, not technological mediums. Some people do use blogs to encourage dialogue, foster spiritual growth, reflect honestly and honor Christ. Others simply use it as one more way to push a personal agenda.

Brett Royal said...

My blog started because I had a lot of thoughts in our Sunday School Class, but we continually ran out of time.
It has changed a little over time, but that is a good use.

DannyG said...

For me, blogging is a way to share and compare my thoughts about faith and life. I enjoy reading others words and thoughts. And I want to have some feedback from those who read my works, and I try to give my feedback to those whose works I read. I suppose that when there is constant flaming and anger in posts Bell might have a point, but not when the blogging is a way of sharing thoughts. Would Bell be critical of a loose group of Christians who meet at a coffee shop to talk about life and faith? They may have some passionate discussions, but as long as respect is maintained, how could this not but help in their development of faith?

Mark Winter said...

Blogging has alerted me to the danger of zombies and I have won lots of cash & prizes through the Caption Contest.

Nuff said, Rob Bell.

Tom Jackson said...

Cash and prizes? Hey, wait a minute...