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How a Blog Helps Pastors Connect With Their Flock
By: Kristi Winkler

As Christians, we are in the business of serving others. Blogging allows us to efficiently connect with people in between the lines of our busy lives.

Presents a different side
A blog provides an opportunity to really tell your story. It gives a glimpse of your life outside of the church walls and can include observations on world news, current events, personal interests and even hobbies. This is also an opportunity to share your heart about something that might not be appropriate in the typical ministry setting, or to present a topic that you feel is worth opening up for debate and discussion through the forum of a blog. It can reveal more of your humanity and even include humorous stories about the things that happen around the office.

Expands ministry opportunities
Are there other things you would have liked to share in your Sunday message, but didnít have the time? Add additional points, anecdotes or explain the thought process behind your sermon preparation to your blog. Maybe include a brief recap first, short and sweet, then provide supplemental information such as good books and articles that will expound on the subject. At the end of the blog entry, provide the opportunity for questions, comments and general input.

Another suggestion is to collect questions via email or comment cards, then use blog entries to post them along with your answer.

Supports church relations
Church blogs are a great place to share gratitude and recognition to the many hands that serve in various capacities throughout the year. Write up a testimonial as a way to honor the work of especially supportive parishioners. Your blog is also a chance to present the fun side of church with pictures, notices of upcoming opportunities to get involved, church news, updates, and recaps on special events. It is a place to talk about what goes on between Monday and Saturday and build excitement about your church.

Promotes community
Having a blog will give your ministry a whole new dimension. People who would not normally speak up in a public setting have the opportunity to share whatís on their minds. Another way to receive input from your church community is to ask for help from writers, other leaders, organizers, professionals, and students within the population of your church. Giving people the opportunity to ďlikeĒ your blog on Facebook, or other social networking site, will generate interest and get the word out. New friendships and connections can be made in a way that might not be naturally happening before or after the church service.

Distributes knowledge
For your blog to be useful in the capacity of research or study, the ability to search the data in different ways will be imperative. Some folks donít merely read the most recent post, they search archives for popular posts and comments, using keywords, or a series of keywords, to find specifically what they are looking for. Use helpful categories, logically organized, so that topics can be easily found. Itís important to include options for your readers to access articles in a variety of ways such as listing articles by date or by category.

The importance of moderation
You might want to set up your blog so that you or other trusted moderators receive notices before comments are posted to this very public forum. People are fallible and occasionally you may have user generated content that is inappropriate or inaccurate. There are blog tools that help you moderate comments. For instance, you can choose to receive notifications via email or text about comments awaiting moderation, rather than immediately posting comments for the world to see. Another good option is to be able to hold back old conversations or debates from being resuscitated out of the blue. This will maintain that all comments are fresh and current.

If done correctly, blog is a powerful tool to use in maintaining relationships with your church community that would not ordinarily be possible through more traditional means. It is a place to tell your story, communicate ideas, and share knowledge.

Kristi Winkler is a contributing writer for Sharefaith, www.sharefaith.com.

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