My blogging experience over the past 3 years has been one I might characterize as a spiritual journey of sorts.
As I became concerned over events at my church starting in 2006 under new leadership, I thought that issues troubling me at my church were more local, or isolated to my particular church and its leadership, but soon found out they were just a glimpse of the larger problem within evangelical Christianity. I was a member at FBC Jax for many years, and I saw things that I thought I would never, ever see in my church - that I have blogged about here over the past several years.
So I started a blog. A place where I could raise the consciousness of my fellow church members, to get them to think more deeply about abuses at the church that I thought needed to be answered by the leadership - and a place where people could discuss these issues anonymously if they desired, without fear of reprisal from church leaders.
And my oh my, how my church leaders didn't like my blog and others' blogs. Mega church leaders generally have a fear of any blog that is critical of preachers. Critical blogs are viewed as sin, evil, attacks. Perhaps it is because pastors can't control the messages on blogs - blog posts don't have to be approved by the preacher and his marketing team before being published; and pastors can't keep their donors, er, I mean their sheep - from reading the blogs. So many have sought to shut down, influence, intimidate - even pass resolutions - to get blogs shut down or bloggers discredited - and it has only served to create more blog writers and more blog readers.
As much as celebrity preachers say they love the First Amendment, and want their religious speech protected - their own actions and resolutions show that they want it for themselves, but not so much for the lay person in their church. Preachers love to criticize culture, other faiths, even blast other preachers and denominations with which they disagree - but a lay person analyzing and criticizing THEM - well, that is "sin" in their eyes. And must be stopped.
For a good portion of my three years I blogged anonymously. Yes, the "coward" anonymous blogger, "the coward that he is" as I was affectionately called by one of my dearest fans. I am amazed in this day and time that people still take issue with people's desires to blog anonymously. History tells us how harshly critics of church leadership have been treated. Those who speak about unpopular ideas, or who criticize, especially harshly criticize powerful, religious people, are treated worse than infidels or criminals by church leaders. Even those who seek to expose sexually abusive pastors - they are told their blog is sin because it casts a negative light on the church and on "God's man".
God is using these blogs, I believe, for many purposes, one of which is a cleansing of sorts of His church, as the abuses and lies of religious leaders are being exposed, and the laity is being educated as to what really is going on in their church - just as was done in the days of Martin Luther.
God used Luther and the printing press to accomplish His will.
Today, blogs and discussion forums are today's new "printing presses" that are allowing for a Reformation of sorts to take place. [the gnashing you hear are the pastors' teeth as they read this]. Lay people who are no longer just sitting and soaking and forking over 10% so their church can do what they want with the dough with no accountability to the sheep. They want transparency and openness and won't settle for pastors taking over their churches and running them like the CEO of a profit-making enterprise with parishioners and converts viewed as a market to be tapped.
Lay people can examine documents and video and audio of celebrity pastors to see if they are liars in the pulpit - if they make up grand stories, or if they lie about their detractors.
Celebrity preachers can no longer embellish their testimonies or outright lie to their congregations for fear that they will be exposed.
Church leaders who try to cover abusers in their midst, protecting their pastors and their church reputation by accusing the victims or sweeping allegations under the rug - have a much harder time these days as they know their story can be put up on the Internet for all to see.
A prime example of the power of blogs - and why pastors have passed resolutions condemning blogging - is seen in the current Ergun Caner scandal. As much as very powerful men in the SBC who were behind his rocket-launch to instant SBC stardom wanted this issue to just go away and be swept under the rug, bloggers wouldn't allow it to happen. I personally was disgusted to go back and hear Caner's FBC Jax sermon from November 2001 and compare his statements to public documents showing some of his claims to the FBC Jax faithful about himself to be false. I was glad that this blog was used to expose the contents of that sermon - within hours of me realizing what I heard, the excerpts from that sermon were published for all to hear.
So where am I at in this journey of religious blogging? I will continue on. I am a Christian, I love the Lord and I still committed to the Southern Baptist Convention and all they have theologically stood for over the years. I will continue on as a Christian blogger. But I am sad to see what is happening to the SBC at the hands of the new breed of mega church pastor - and I therefore will continue to blog about these issues in evangelical Christianity every chance I get.
I also in due time will have more to say about my past year and a half and the coming year in the legal battles I have fought and am continuing to fight. It will be an interesting tale for sure, and there will be likely many more twists and turns and setbacks - and hopefully some victories - but whatever the outcome I fully intend to tell this part of my story when this long legal process runs its course.
Meanwhile, I'll blog about issues of interest to me, about issues that I am very passionate about in evangelical Christianity, and my journey into blogging will continue.