Rushing for relevance

I’ve been intimidated for a while. Secondary to feeling intimidated is a heavy sense of being irrelevant. Here’s why..

Ten minutes on Facebook on any given day is sure to surface a link posted by someone in my church or a friend. These links are usually blog posts or articles written by other pastors/Christian leaders about current issues. It’s unsettling just how prompt some pastors are with a post.

  • A tornado hits somewhere. There’s a deeply insightful blog post about how to respond as a Christian/church or how to explain “acts of God.”
  • A shooting. There’s a post – with an attention-grabbing headline – that’s sure to be shared, liked and reposted.
  • A political candidate says/does something. There’s a post about the latest debate or a politician’s theological shortcomings.
  • A TV show offends. There’s a thought-provoking post about how shallow our culture is and why we should or shouldn’t watch certain shows.
  • A celebrity dies (or even a coach’s wife). Social media fills up with retweets, comments and wide-ranging opinions, affirmations or explanations.

You know how it goes. We log on. We see a link shared. And we click.

These johhny-on-the-spot social commentators are in some ways like blog traffic ambulance chasers. They rush to hammer out a post so that their comments will be some of the first seen on social media. Their rep increases at the same time as their blog traffic.

I know how it goes. I’m a pastor and a blogger. I’ve felt that tug and siren call of brief blog popularity by sounding off on current issues. It’s a guaranteed way to see a spike in your blog traffic.

The problem is that you’ve got to keep doing it. The principle is that you’ve got to keep doing what it took to get them there in the first place. A provocative post challenging status quo assumptions about, well, anything – that must be followed up with an equally thoughtful post about the theological implications of what the President had for breakfast.

Maybe I’m just jealous

Maybe this whole post is simply because I don’t have time to sound off on every little cultural hiccup. Maybe I’m envious of their block traffic. Envious of the attention that these Christian leaders are able to garner.

I can’t complain – especially when I know the formula and simply resist rushing to relevance.

A critical spirit then begins to surface within me, and I subconsciously denigrate these pastor-posters as I snippily begin to wonder –

  • Are they discipling people one-on-one?
  • Are they tackling problems head-on with a biblical perspective on a daily basis in their church?
  • With the time they spend blogging every day about this issue or that… what are they not doing that I am doing?
  • Am I just a terrible pastor because I can’t keep up?

I feel intimidated because as I wonder if my church members want me to blog about current issues like that? People do ask me what I think. Perhaps they need me to blog about current events.

However, my concern is that we have certain leaders/pastors essentially offering their own thoughts about current events, and as these opinions are read and shared across the interwebs, it supplants biblical thinking by Christians.

Rather than pointing Christians to relevant scriptures for current issues, we too often attempt to be relevant ourselves. I appreciate what Jennifer Bashaw said in her post The Thinking Church:

“..we might feel passionately, protest loudly, and correct indiscriminately, but we do not think deeply. And at the end of the day, [we] need a thinking church.”

Now some of you are probably thinking… “Hey, aren’t you linking and encouraging us to click away and read Bashaw’s article? Isn’t that exactly what you’re talking about?” Regular readers will also decry my occasional “Nuff said” posts in which I offer a collection of blog posts that have grabbed my attention across the net.

Am I being contradictory? 

I don’t think so. I am not saying we should ignore what leaders and pastors are saying. I’m suggesting we should think more about what they’re saying. And that we should each seek to offer our best reflections instead of just regurgitating links.

One of the things I’ve challenged myself with is that instead of just “liking” or sharing a post on Facebook, I should tell you why I liked it and why I’m sharing it. I want you to know what about it made me think. Here on the blog, I’ll tell you what I agree excitedly with or disagree vehemently with.

I think you should consider some of the same things… Insert your own thoughts for a change. Look up scripture and see if it supports your conclusions (or the writer’s). Take a risk. Put yourself out there!

Confession

I’d love to be “one of those” pastor bloggers who get crazy internet traffic daily. I’d love to be noticed. And as a result, I’d love for my book to surge into a top 10 list somewhere. These other blogger/writers have a platform, so don’t I need one too? Writers love affirmation, after all.

I’m just not able (or willing) at present to chase after every cultural whim and offer a provocative/shareable post. Bravo to those who can and do.

I want to remember that before I rush to relevance, I should think. It’s not enough to simply be noticed. Unfortunately, our culture – from social media to TV news – will foist on the public those who are talking the most, whether they’re thoughtful or not.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.” (Stephen R. Covey)

What about you?

  • What in this post resonated with you?
  • Who do you find yourself reading and listening to as a result of your Facebook or Twitter streams?
  • What was the last post you shared and why?
  • How good are you at actually sharing with the rest of us what you think?

On this day...

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