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We Know More Than Our Pastors

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A paper by Tim Bednar on how Bloggers are the vanguard of participatory church.
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We Know More Than Our PastorsWhy Bloggers Are the Vanguard of the Participatory Church Written By Tim Bednar

Originally published Tuesday, April 06, 2004 Updated Thursday, April 22, 2004

Table of Contents 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 7.0 8.0 9.0 10.0 Introduction......................................................................................................... 3 Blog Sounds Ridiculous When Said Out Loud ................................................ 5 My Cyberspace Pilgrimage ................................................................................ 6 Blogs and Christian Blogging........................................................................ 9 We Blog To Participate ................................................................................... 10 We Blog in the Present ................................................................................... 11 We Blog In The First Person ........................................................................... 11 We Blog As A Discipline ................................................................................. 13 We Use Blogging To Preach........................................................................... 14 We Blog To Earn Permission .......................................................................... 14 We Blog To Care ............................................................................................ 15 We Blog Build The Kingdom ........................................................................... 16 Blogging Is Being Spiritually Formed............................................................. 20 Cathedral And Bazaar..................................................................................... 20 Memex Machines............................................................................................ 21 Vanguard Of The Church ................................................................................ 22 Priesthood of All Bloggers............................................................................... 22 Problems with Blogging .................................................................................. 27 Vanity, Vanity All Is Vanity .............................................................................. 27 Seeking a Virtual Journey ............................................................................... 28 Spreading Discord .......................................................................................... 29 Cronyism and Groupthink ............................................................................... 30 Hype ............................................................................................................... 32 Question of Orthodoxy .................................................................................... 33 The Vanguard of the Participatory Church..................................................... 39 Participatory Church ........................................................................................ 42 Epilogue ............................................................................................................ 45 Index Of Names ................................................................................................ 47

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1.0 Introduction This paper explores how Christians are using blogging for spiritual formation and how they are redefining the scope of Martin Luthers the priesthood of the believer. Throughout the paper, I will defend my claim that we know more than our pastors and by the end of the paper, I will show why bloggers are the vanguard of what I am calling the participatory church.

I started blogging July 9, 2002 and I believe that this increasingly popular online activity signifies an impending sea change for pastors and the church. This paper is the result of a survey I conducted from October to November 2003 and over six months of research.1 My conclusion is simple: bloggers know more than our pastors.2 I believe that our network of blogs exceed the reach of any single pastor. To be clear, no one thinks they are personally smarter or more called than any pastor. However, as a network, we know more than our pastors. In this, we are not alone. Thousands of bloggers circumvent established hierarchies and relate unmediated with one another. We are part of a participatory phenomenon that is impacting mass media, technology, education, entertainment, politics, journalism and business. Emboldened by this participatory movement and empowered by easy-to-use technology, we are starting to expect different things from our churches, pastors and denominations. We look forward to something more profound from our churches than vision casting, finding our spiritual gifts, mall-like facilities, coffee bars and candles. We expect to participate; we expect to co-create the church. As bloggers, we take an active role in our personal spiritual formation. We take seriously Pauls admonition to participate, When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.3 As we blog, we push the boundaries of what Martin Luther meant when he wrote about the priesthood of all believers.4 Blogging is creating a robust and growing network of participators. We are not just a new kind of Christian or an emerging church fad. We are a new kind of preacher, theologian, pundit, apologist and church-goer. We exist outside (and inside) church hierarchies. The phenomenon of blogging is transforming our expectations of church. Soon this memea product of our online spiritual formationwill emerge from our cyberchurch and transform the existing church. I believe that bloggers represent a vanguard that is co-creating a new kind of participatory church. In this paper, I will attempt to describe blogging, explain the specifics of blogging, explore the participatory social movement and describe the emerging participatory church.

Tim Bednar | e-Church.com

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Tim Bednar, UPDATED! Open Survey: Five Questions for Christian Bloggers, Moxy Turtle, October 30, 2003. http://www.e-church.com/blog-detail.asp?EntryID=410&BloggerID=1 The Cluetrain Manifesto states that markets are getting smarterand getting smarter faster than most companies. http://www.cluetrain.com/ Dan Gillmors first journalistic pivot point is My readers know more than I do. My claim that we know more than our pastors extends these observations to the church. 1Corinthians 14:26, NIV. http://bible.gospelcom.net/cgi-bin/bible?passage=1Corinthians+14%3A26&version=NIV It may be argued that Luther never intended to support my claim. He may have never meant for us to say, I am my own Priest, which is essentially what I claim. Timothy George, The Priesthood of All Believers and the Quest for Theological Integrity, Founders. Article first appeared in the Criswell Theological Journal (Sp. 1989) and is reprinted by permission. http://www.founders.org/FJ03/article1_fr.html

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Tim Bednar | e-Church.com 2.0 Blog Sounds Ridiculous When Said Out Loud I will explore blogging in a moment, but first I need to confess that the term blog sounds ridiculous. Blog. Blog. Blog. I blogged for about two months before I struggled to explain it to a friend. I can still see his befuddled expression as I uttered the word blog. I started blogging about a month ago. Did you say blogging? He suppressed a snicker and smirk. I too thought it sounded absurd. Suddenly all my enthusiasm evaporated and I began to doubt the whole enterprise. I was able to write the word with confidence, but had never used it in conversation. Yes, I said blogging. It sounded foreign. Blogging had become the most exciting part of my spiritual life, yet it sounded ridiculous. He hesitated. Okay, whats a blog? Blogging is kind of like journaling, I offered. In the last year, they have become very popular. I admit that blog sounds more like a term Douglas Adams would use in Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy or a word found on the pages of my daughters Dr. Seuss books. It certainly does not have the cachet of a term coined by William Gibson. The word blog does not sound cool; it is ugly and abrupt. This is regrettable since blogging is a uniquely literate way to interact in community.

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Tim Bednar | e-Church.com 3.0 Cyberchurch Pilgrimage In 1998, I launched a web site, called e-Church, as an extension of my Sunday school class. It has morphed through several iterations each intending to build a learning community using the Internet. Each variationmagazine, classroom, and curriculum publisherunequivocally missed the mark.5 I spent as much time designing (and redesigning) web pages as I did creating content. It was a burden to update the site once a week and the results disappointed me. I repeatedly failed to build is what I sought mosta community that fostered spiritual formation without the limitations of time, buildings, money, programs or pastors. After three years of maintaining e-Church on a weekly basis, I set it aside and did not update it for the better part of 2001. I cannot remember where I first heard of blogging, but sometime in 2002, I Googled it and read Doc Searls and Dan Gillmor's blogs. I had previously used Jordon Coopers web site and he pointed me to Martin Roth's Semi-definitive List of Christian Bloggers (created April 2002), which eventually became blogs4God (July 2002).6 I fina

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