The Blog and Candidacy (or Congregation)

I have no idea if members of my Candidacy Committee read my blog.  Which got me to thinking . . .

Have any of you seminarian or pastor bloggers out there ever been burned in any way by what you’ve written on your blog?  Do your parishoners or candidacy committee members read your blog?  Do you openly share your blog with these folks?  We’ve all heard of college kids getting turned down from jobs because of their MySpace pages, or of employees who were fired for what they wrote on their personal blogs.  Has any such thing ever happened in the church?

Some seminarian and pastor-types use their blog as a sort of online newsletter, nary allowing personal or unpolished content to creep onto their webpages.  Sports passions?  Mundane family matters?  Faith doubts?  Political opinions?  Such topics are filtered and do not appear on these polished blogs which generally present theology, ministry and faith matters in intelligent and insightful ways.

But other bloggers – myself included – are less filtered, sharing insights, news, thoughts, and feelings that they might not necessarily share in front of their candidacy committees, in their church newsletters, or from their pulpit – at least, not without some refinement.  Faith, family, sports, politics and the mundane are all fair game with these blogs.  Many of these bloggers are anonymous or semi-anonymous.

I am not anonymous.

I once was anonymous, and then semi-anonymous, and then finally I simply outed myself.  And I’ve found that since my name has appeared on my blog I am a little more intentional about what I write.  But my blog is not as filtered as perhaps it should be, and in these pixels I give expression to some doubts and questions and opinions that I might express differently in front of my Candidacy Committee or in my parish.  Is that problematic?  Should I reconsider what I do on this blog and how I do it?  Sometimes I wonder if I need to abandon this blog and resurface anonymously at a later date at a different blog (I’d love a good excuse to migrate over to WordPress, but I’ve got too much invested here at Typepad).

By now Tim Wengert and any good pastoral caregiver would ask: Why do you ask this question?  My answer – I begin internship next week, and as I creep closer and closer to this pastoral vocation I find myself wrestling with what it means to fulfill the office of ministry with its various responsibilities and sensibilities, while also giving honest voice to the questions, experiences, insights and passions that God has given me. 

Or, perhaps put another way, To what extent am I changed by fulfilling this office, and to what extent is the office changed when I fill it?  I’m sure that Luther has something to say about the office of ministry.  Any suggested readings?  Perhaps that could make some good Labor Day Weekend reading . . .

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Faith & the Church, Vocation. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Blog and Candidacy (or Congregation)

  1. revhrod says:

    So, is there anything here you wouldn’t want the committee to see? Is there anything here you wouldn’t want printed on a billboard outside your house? Or outside your church?

  2. Diane says:

    This is interesting. I’m not anonymous either — never was. So there are things I don’t share. But I do share a lot — not baseball, but dogs and daily life… so you made me wonder, where ARE the lines?
    Your post also made me think about the office of ministry, how it fills us, and how we fill it. no doubt, we are changed…

  3. I’ve not thought about this very deeply before… but it might explain one of the things my CC said to me before flying off to Philly “Just remember to be careful what you write in emails and things like that.” Hmmm. I wonder if they read my blog. Should I be worried?
    Peace,
    Chris

  4. Chris says:

    Chris,
    If your CC is reading your blog and meant their advice as a veiled commentary about your blogging endeavors, I would hope that they would be more straight forward with their advice and more forthcoming with their reading habits. If their preferred method of sharing advice with you is through cryptic codes, I don’t envy you. Direct and clear communication in the Candidacy Process – with careers and vocation and ministry in the balance – is so freaking important from both sides of that interview table.
    RevHRod,
    Well, my blog IS a different medium than a billboard (more people would see the billboard!). What I write and speak before a church or Candidacy Committee is different, usually in tone and temperament and topic – I don’t preach about ’90s music, politics or baseball – than what I write here. And perhaps it is an odd trait of my generation that we feel the need to explore personal thoughts in plain view of the entire planet, but . . .
    Can I reasonably expect readers who also know me in my pastoral role to differentiate between the personal writings of this blog and the public pastoral work I do in the parish? Perhaps, but perhaps not. This blog is personal while also being public, blurring a line that many pastors covetously keep clear.
    But to answer your question – no, there is nothing in this blog that I wouldn’t want my Candidacy Committee or parishoners to read. I would likely present some of this material differently to them – with more polish and more context, perhaps – but this blog is a reflection of who I am, and that’s ok.

  5. PS says:

    I hope you don’t feel you have to change the style of your blog. I enjoy the variety and content.
    I’m wondering an opposite situation: I discovered the blog of a pastor I know, a very good writer, discrete, but since I know this person, I can read between the lines, so I know the details that fill in the blanks to what was written. This person knows I read a lot of blogs but has never mentioned this particular blog to me. So far, I’ve not dealt with saying that I know about the blog, but that feels somewhat dishonest too.

  6. Drat. When I saw the hyperlink I took it to indicate that Wengert had a blog. Drat.

  7. Eric says:

    You bring up some good points. I am not annonymous and I know that some parishiners read my blog so I AM careful. But on the flip side, I don’t want to be so “careful” that the real me fails to shine through and thus the ministry that God gave me to do suffers. I believe all our ministries are different because we are all different, in different contexts and with different gifts. And God uses our uniquenesses (is that even a word?) for the glory of the Kingdom.
    Those serving in the church in leadership positions walk a fine line when they maintain a non-annonymous blog. But we still need to be ourselves. So far I haven’t been bitten.
    God bless, Chris…I think you are doing a great job. Thanks for the post.

  8. revhrod says:

    While in the parish I had people criticize how noisy my shoes were on the parquet floor of the chancel platform. They actually talked about this among themselves. I was told after the fact.
    I once bought cigarettes in the small town grocery store near Parish One. Within a week the gossip had spread from the market to the Highway Church of the Nazarene and back to my congregation’s organist who took me aside for a little talk.
    People can be really critical. Sometimes rightly, sometimes not. Email and blogging can be tricky because it feels so immediate and somewhat temporary. But it really isn’t. And so sometimes we need to be careful of what we say. Not because we’re saying anything that we shouldn’t. But sometimes what we say can get in the way of other people’s hearing the gospel. They get so caught up with the shoes thing that they forget what is really important.
    P.s. I did start wearing less clickety clack shoes in worship at Parish Three. And I never bought smokes within fifty miles Parish One.

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