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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What's a Blogger to Do?

Questions Yesterday was a tough day for me at the blog.  Just when I think I have a feel for how to do this thing, I get unpleasantly surprised.  :)

Yesterday's article by Dan Reiland hit a nerve with lots of people.  Most people loved it.  A good number of people didn't.  When I posted the article, I thought there was very little that people wouldn't like... thinking that Dan had somehow been able to say something that I'd been thinking for a long time, but never been able to express.

As always, I try to find a title that will grab your attention (so that you'll take the time to read the post).  Since Dan's prayer was about "God not sending Christians to their church", I picked this title:

"Dear God:  Please Don't Send Christians To Our Church!"

Provacative.  Eye Catching.  Short and Sweet. Attention Grabbing.

But I had no idea.

The onslaught of criticism of the article was amazing to me.  By mid-day, I was getting tons of traffic from other blogs that had picked up on the story:

I guess the idea that everyone is important and valuable in God's eyes got thrown out the door. I realize that some Christians are along for the ride and need a kick in the you know where, but believe me, they aren't the only ones that aren't welcome in these Churches it's those dreaded Churched people too. You know the ones that went to Sunday School.


A favorite blog of many seeker-centered pastors, has an interesting account of one such church that actually prays against growing Christian attendance. They generally dont want Christians to fill up their seats, and take away seating for unchurched Harry and Mary.

Both of these snippets, I think, totally misrepresent what Dan was even talking about in the article.  I'm not sure if people just read my title and went from that or what; but the reviews on their blogs (and on mine, since many of their visitors came and posted comments at MMI) were lethal.

The result?  You guessed it... the blog post that I had hoped would help many who could use it to help them better define their ministry was 'hijacked' into a post that ended up being an anti-seeker; anti-evangelistic church; anti-large church; 'progressive' pastor; 'watered-down' theology post by those who don't share the overall values and mission of this blog.  Quite frankly, it's the same place we've gone here (it seems like hundreds) many, many times.

That sent me into my own rant, for which I'm not particularly proud.  :)

I want a provacative blog.  I want a blog that sharpens what you and I believe.  I want a blog that handles controversial things  (I had a whole handful of items this morning that I wanted to post and thought this morning probably wasn't the right time to do it!)  :)  I want a blog that discusses ministry items, trends, methods that may push us all 'out of our comfort zone'.

I DON'T want a blog where we debate the same things over and over again.  I don't want a blog that is constantly based on criticism of others (although sometimes that's necessary).  I don't want a blog that is constantly on the defense about something that we shouldn't have to be on the defense about.  But that's what it has become many times.

I've become convinced that, while I wish everyone could participate and be a positive contribution to this blog, that's just not possible.

Does it mean that I just want a bunch of people who agree with me to join in this blogging journey?

Not at all.

Here's what I think it does mean though:

If you find that you violently disagree with most of the subjects and topics that I post on here, then this probably isn't the blog for you.

If you find the need to set me or others straight on just about every post you read here, then this probably isn't the blog for you.

If you feel that this blog preaches a watered-down or 'different' gospel, then this probably isn't the blog for you.

If you think the purpose of the church is only discipleship and only for Christians; or you think the church is only for evangelism and the lost; then you'll be frustrated, and probably find that this isn't the blog for you.


If you want to be a part of a community of church leaders who are breaking the molds, reaching the lost, building the kingdom, doing their best to become effective for God's use, then I think you'll feel right at home.

And that discussion will not only be provacative; it will be challenging, lively, and even heated at times.  But it will be so in a way that stretches us all in our faith and direction and service while staying true to the Word.

That's the type of blog that I'd love to see (and I think we've accomplished it on many different times here.)

Other than that... what's a blogger to do?

Have a great day!


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November 8, 2005 in Blog Housekeeping | Permalink

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Calm down Todd, you're doing a fine job. The very nature of a blog invites people to rant and rave. There are a few commentors who nitpick every post. These are some people with serious issues and the dreaded illness of cynicismitis.

I have posted pros and cons on a variety of issues. In every case I think of, someone came back and conned my pro and pro'd my con. I choose to ignore the knee-jerkers, flame throwers, and the ad-hominem attackers.

I have found your site to be exactly what you have envisioned. Provocative. I wish I had time to comment on every post, but alas I just don't have the time.

If I was asked for advice and I had 2 cents worth, I'd tell you to not respond to the constant critic. Monitor the blog, censor whomever is breaking the rules, post an occasional warning or disclaimer and let the chips fall where they may.

I've got MMIW as a favorite. I visit it twice every day. First thing in the morning and just before I leave the jobsite. It's a pretty good little blog. Keep it going and don't back off of the provocative stuff. I don't always agree, but it helps me to see how the other side of an issue is seen by some.

Posted by: pjlr | Nov 8, 2005 9:25:33 AM

what is a blog?

Posted by: sherry runnels | Nov 8, 2005 9:33:36 AM

Don't quit now!! I appreciate this blog. One of the things you want in a blog is to be provacative, If everyone agrees then it isn't doing what it was designed for. Sometimes I find myself disagreeing just because everyone is agreeing. It is necesary to look at both side of an issue, and examine the possible problems or negatives also. I don't like to see the same people rant about the same things every day, but I do want to hear some opposing views.

Posted by: Bart | Nov 8, 2005 10:08:20 AM

Sounds like you need a break Todd. Go get a massage and forget about the blog for awhile. We'll still be here when you get back.
Sufficed to say, you're not going to find any issue/topic that everyone is going to agree on. And while people may get up in each other's faces, I don't think it's all that terrible.
The reason we keep coming back to mega vs. small, is because it's the huge topic right now. Maybe in a few months that will change.
You're putting forth good topics for us to think about. I've got my two cents, but it's good to be challenged and I've read some very thought provoking posts since I've logged on over the months that often disagree with me. It's all good!
I look forward to MMI every week.

Posted by: Bert | Nov 8, 2005 10:56:09 AM

Thanks, Bert...

That's one of the reasons I get frustrated though... because I hear time and time again, that the people I'm hoping to reach through this blog DO go away because of all the arguing over things that are off-topic. So if I let it go, I lose my audience as well (and then end up with just the ones who get us off-topic left!). :(

It's just a balancing act. One I do better with somedays than others. :)

I like the sound of a massage. Never had one (a professional one, at least). Maybe we could start a 'massage fund'. Hey, that could be a post! Who could be against that?!



Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Nov 8, 2005 11:01:07 AM

Actually, I felt led to say that the title "Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die comes from an old Ledbelly blues sone fron the 20's. It has deep Black spiritual roots to it.

Posted by: Jon | Nov 8, 2005 11:01:32 AM

... that's probably the same kind of thing Dan was talking about for the people he wanted to see in their church... hmmm? :)

Posted by: rick | Nov 8, 2005 11:11:07 AM

Todd, Hang in there buddy. Make no mistake about it there buddy. Jesus had trouble with the Pharisees and the Saducees, and they are still hanging around. Any where we go they are going to be there. Jesus spoke well of these people who have commented on this blog. He said "The blind lead the blind, and they both fall in the ditch." I also remember something else on the Karate Kid. Daniels teacher told him that the student is actually like the teacher, good student, just bad teaching." I don't care what they say, I know the bible and what it teaches. Just do like Jesus did buddy. Just walk away and get alone with the Father.

Posted by: Evangelist Jeff | Nov 8, 2005 11:17:48 AM

I have 25 years of pastoral experience under my belt and the scars to prove it. The article about not sending more Christians was totally on-target. The trend in our "evangelical churches" to keep re-slicing the pie and capturing other people's "market shares" does not add one whit to the kingdom. The bold church, the faithful church does care for and nurture believers, but does not cater to whims and fad in order to keep consumer Christians happy. The target of our ministry must be those who do not know Jesus Christ. Hang in there. Keep up the bold thoughts!

Posted by: Don | Nov 8, 2005 11:27:37 AM

I don't know you, and this is the first time i have read your blog, but from what i read, you're doing a good job. Sometimes oppositon only strengthens us...sometimes. I hope that you continue to write challenging things for people to read. Oh let me say that I will feel right at home with the description you wrote at the end of your Blog today. Have a Blessed Day.

Posted by: Maria | Nov 8, 2005 11:27:48 AM

Maybe too many professional Christian are grabbing up space in this blog. Todd...it is awesome and I truly believe God Himself is saying, "That's what I'm talkin about!" It's easy to stay in the Christian Ghetto (Roaring Lambs) and take offense with those who would spur us to action...actually fulfilling the mission of the Church to seek, save, and send. Far too many take too long of a pause after the "save" part and become pew dwellers and committee chairs. Also remember that an itchy scab is a sign of healing.

You go buddy! I'm here for ya!

Posted by: Jay Crouch | Nov 8, 2005 11:29:55 AM

Hang in there Todd.

Three years ago your ministry led me to my first full-time worship pastorate. The fruits of this ministry have been incredible and (more than I could have asked or imagined) I am able to attend Moody Bible Institute to further my theological education with the assistance of my new church. I have continued to read MMI every week and have passed on a large number of articles to the staff and elders that spoke directly to situations we have gone through during the last three years. You cannot know what a blessing your minstry has been in my life. I hope one day to get to meet you and shake your hand (if not here, somewhere around the throne).

Please don't let those who have personal agendas discourage you from continuing what has been a profound ministry. Keep the faith brother and carry on serving our Savior just as He has called you to do!

In His Hands,

Posted by: Gary Hollinger | Nov 8, 2005 11:37:53 AM


I compeletly understand how you feel. With that said, I will openly admit that my words don't really help much here. However, this experience of helping others is a painful and very rewarding journey. Your controversial topics are accomplishing your goals for this website. I'm afraid that the critic is always louder than the supporter. However, we must learn to ignore the critic and expose our hearts to vunerability. Never let your genuine desire to help all who come in contact with your life to over shadow the ones you have helped but have been silent. I've read your posting yesterday and although I didn't agree with the individuals entire methodology I certainly didn't fail to see your point. I believe with all my heart that if we will yield what He has called us to we will accomplish his purpose and our deepest desire to serve His Kingdom. Of all the most important bit of advise I could give here I would say, "Don't let your discouragement overtake your hearts desire." I realize this is probably just a bad day and things got a bit overwhelming but be encouraged that you are not carrying these things alone. People are praying for you and your ministry. Remember, No weapon formed against you shall prosper. That includes discouragement. Hang in there. Besides when we're not fightin', arguin', and debatin' we(God's people) know when our brother needs some encouragement. So let me speak for all who appreciate and understand your purpose, "Hang in there!" God's got your back and so do we.

Posted by: Pete King | Nov 8, 2005 12:06:46 PM

Hey Todd,

I have a rule in communicating with people in our church. I will not email or text message or any other type of written communication on any subject that I can tell may have emotional attachments. (Ex> I won't argue about any subject)

Without eye contact, body language, and emotion that is communicated through verbal communication, people read with their own slant and emotion and see what they want to see.

Sometimes I read a comment to a post and I think, "What post did this person read?" I have started blogging to try and improve my writing and thinking skills and to have another place to disciple others, but I know that I will often be misunderstood and misread.

When we make a writing mistake we call it a typo. We need a word for when people misunderstand what we are trying to commmunicate with our writing. One word. Then we won't spend so much stress, time, and energy trying to recommunicate.

God bless and I enjoy your Web ministry.

Posted by: Royal | Nov 8, 2005 12:17:37 PM

Hey Todd,

I have a rule in communicating with people in our church. I will not email or text message or any other type of written communication on any subject that I can tell may have emotional attachments. (Ex> I won't argue about any subject)

Without eye contact, body language, and emotion that is communicated through verbal communication, people read with their own slant and emotion and see what they want to see.

Sometimes I read a comment to a post and I think, "What post did this person read?" I have started blogging to try and improve my writing and thinking skills and to have another place to disciple others, but I know that I will often be misunderstood and misread.

When we make a writing mistake we call it a typo. We need a word for when people misunderstand what we are trying to commmunicate with our writing. One word. Then we won't spend so much stress, time, and energy trying to recommunicate.

God bless and I enjoy your Web ministry.

Posted by: Royal | Nov 8, 2005 12:18:08 PM

Todd, you ARE picking provocative subjects and they are provoking people to speak up about their beliefs.

I agree with others here, you're doing a fine job I just think you're getting in the way of the successful ministry and wanting to not allow provocative discussion.

I've also posted here pro and con and have also had others come "back and conned my pro and pro'd my con" too but it's part of provocative discussion.

Granted allot of what is said here wouldn't be said at a discussion (debate) table but because of the anonomity (sp) people feel more bold. What does happen at the discussion (or debate) table many times is people get heated and compassionate about their point and sometimes that needs curbing - which again, you've done a fine job.

Allow the Holy Spirit to work through this blog on this new medium and see what happens. I think you'll agree, you can almost decidedly see an even split down the middle and like one poster said in another blog, I bet you can almost guess where many will post (on what side) and to a degree, what they will say. I would suggest to you, consider the work of God through the Holy Spirit. Maybe this is exactly what God desires from these provocative topics. I know it doesn't go exactly the way you want but maybe it's going exactly the way the Lord wants it to go.

Perhaps this isn't by any of your doing, perhaps it is what the Lord is doing through you. Perhaps these discussions NEED to take place and would not otherwise (considering the magnitude of the reach and sheer numbers of pastors/leaders with a voice here) take place without this medium or this blog.

Just my thoughts but for what it is worth, you're doing great Todd! I would hope you wouldn't push and tell people to hit the road because they disagree with you. Lead them to Scripture and illuminate error and maybe you'll win a Brother.

Posted by: BeHim | Nov 8, 2005 12:34:49 PM

Perhaps not allowing comments would be one solution. I'm sure that isn't what you ultimately want, but I am someone who often won't read the comments because I get sick of the same tired complaints. I get sick of people making things personal or taking things personal when they aren't meant that way. I don't think it will stop anytime soon so I guess you need to decide if receiving good comments/questions is worth putting up with all of the other junk.

Posted by: Kevin | Nov 8, 2005 12:55:32 PM

Todd, I just wanted you to know that you have on my heart and in my prayers. I am in your conner. Just hang in there.

Posted by: Evangelist Jeff | Nov 8, 2005 1:21:07 PM

Todd ,
I think this type of blog is very much needed.It hits the core of what we need in the christian household of faith.If we are to stand up and except the title of christian then we are saying that we also are excepting the responsibilities that come along with it.We need to seek out the lost and feed them the milk of the word uintil they alone can switch over to the meat and so they can follow in this manor.If we dont do speak the word,then who?The ministry of reconciliation was given to us.Stand up and take your place christians.Stop needing others to feed you milk and feed others[Im talking to ones who have been in the family of God for awhile now.The harvest is ripe .
Todd Im proud to call you my brother

Posted by: dawna | Nov 8, 2005 1:53:23 PM

What I find interesting in this debate is that our group is having the same one. With the same factions. In fact, one of our official denominational websites shut down it's forum due to this kind of pointless bickering.
What I almost find comforting is that as we wrestle the same issues, we're not alone in this. Last week I preached out of Acts 10 & 11, and godly people have always struggled when God wants to stretch them. Peter struggled in Acts 10, defended himself in Acts 11, and according to Paul he backslid back into his old prejudices in Galatians. When God wants us to rearrange our values and convictions, that can be painful. And, God may not be calling other body parts to rearrange. Paul wound up maximizing the door Peter opened to the gentiles.
As a 20 year pastor, I struggle with some of the directions the Body may be going, but I must examine if God is not also trying to awaken me to one of my shortcomings. This whole emergent church thing makes me nervous, but I also see some things in it that my heart yearns for. May God continue stretching each of us.

Posted by: bishopdave | Nov 8, 2005 5:18:40 PM

We all love you and your efforts to be the best that you can be. I have visited this site since you have had less than forty members and I think you are doing a great job. Don't get discouraged! Just dish the dis and have the courage! I appreciate the diversity of views and find it interesting that the body of Christ still functions with so many diversities and opinions and yet can say, see how we love one another. Lorrie

Posted by: ld | Nov 9, 2005 1:49:24 AM

I read frequently but haven't commented before. I appreciated the article as I do the content you regularly post on.

I love God with all of my heart but the very division evidenced on the blog entry is why I haven't stepped into a church in eight years. I was a full-time, seminary trained pastor but simply can't handle the vicious, divisiveness of church environments anymore.

Just when I think we're making progress, the vultures come out again.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 9, 2005 3:02:42 AM

Hi Todd,
I've never written in, since I'm not the most tech-saavy person, but today, I felt I had to.
I've enjoyed reading your blog every time it arrives in my email box - I do find I'm challenged, caused to ponder things I might never have thought of before, and your spirit in posting the challenges.
So, please continue, "let the chips fall" and count me in!

Posted by: PJ | Nov 9, 2005 10:34:23 AM

Thanks for what you do. I know it can be frustrating but don't get discouraged. I am one who at times stops following the blogs due to the negative, bitter nature of some of the comments and to br frank it is usually the same people doing the negative, bitter reponses. The sad part is that they always justify the unChristlike comments and attitudes by saying they are just trying to be Biblical or to defend the faith. No, its just jealousy and a bitter spirit that probably impacts their lives and ministry which is maybe why they are not in a larger church. Their attitude would fill the people of the church. It is not you Todd so don't take on the weight of what they are like and how they respond. What you are doing is valuable. I quote your blog often in our staff meetings. Keep up the great work.
Thanks, LarryB

Posted by: Larry | Nov 9, 2005 11:34:46 AM

I did not include any verses in my previous response but Eph. 429-32 is a great one for this subject. Verse 29 says "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs...". The word for unwholesome carries with it the concept of rotten, not good. Words that we share that tear someone down are wrong. In v.31, Paul says don't slander. The concept of slander there means don't say something to tear someone down even if its true about the person. When we do, the result is found in v.30, it "grieves" the Holy Spirit. I think much of the negative, bitter comments on these blogs must really grieve God. Oh we justify them as protecting the faith and just being Biblical. God says thats just being self-righteous, your comments are actually unwholesome and certtainly unneeded.

Posted by: Larry | Nov 9, 2005 11:49:42 AM

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