Is it Blogging or Gossip?

I started blogging as a means of expressing some thoughts about denominational life and church related issues. It’s like playing with a new toy. It never really occurred to me that others might take an interest in my comments. Blogging is quite a phenomenon, and has taken on a unique importance even in journalistic circles. I’m not sure if there is a code of ethics for this sort of thing, but there ought to be.

I first heard about the term “blog” (which is short for “web-long”) when Wade Burleson was going through all that mess with the International Mission Board. News articles from Associated Baptist Press mentioned his blogging about meetings and this of course made some folks pretty irate. He and many others like him are blogging about the comings and goings of the SBC, and apparently are having a significant impact. Dr. Frank Page, current SBC President, has been touted as the first “blogger’s president.” I remain impressed at the influence of some bloggers. Folks who wouldn’t ordinarily have a voice or seat at the denominational table are making their feelings known and developing a growing readership. The rise of bloggers, particularly among younger leaders, will lead to another denominational holy war with the older guard (you will be able to read about on the internet).

Not only is the SBC feeling the impact of bloggers, but local churches are being influenced as well. A large church in Germantown, TN went through a significant disagreement about the rise of elders in their church. Blogs were started to voice opposition, and eventually the pastor resigned in frustration. These folks were trying to “save the church.” This situation is being played out again with Bellevue Baptist Church. I found two blogs about this church related to “saving Bellevue” and “the truth about Bellevue.” An ABP article described blogging as another way of having church fights. Several members who are in obvious disagreement with the pastor are making their frustration known to anyone and everyone who wants to read their blogs.

I’m conflicted about this use of blogging, and wondering if airing the church’s dirty laundry on the internet is the way to go. There are two sides to every story, and certainly individuals are entitled to express their opinions. Unfortunately, using the internet expands the audience of concern beyond what it should be. Folks love scandals, and church people are no exception. I’m not convinced that folks will be responsible for what they find out about other churches through bloggers. In other words, one might form an opinion about a church based solely on the opinion of one of its members. This is done on a personal basis, but having the internet handy has the potential to do more harm than good.

I don’t have an answer for this situation. I enjoy reading blogs from time to time, and am sometimes startled at the information out there. There needs to be a free exchange of ideas, and people are talking more now than ever before. Conversations are a good thing. However, we should not confuse fact with fiction. There are some interesting opinions floating around out there, but the potential for harm is real. The Bible warns against idleness, and to stay away from people who are “not busy, but busybodies” (2 Thess 3:11-12). Let’s make sure blogging doesn’t turn out to be an excuse for spreading gossip.


5 thoughts on “Is it Blogging or Gossip?

  1. Danny,

    From one kindred spirit to another, thanks for stopping by my blog and posting a note. You’re getting a good start on your own. Good stuff…

  2. Danny,

    Eventhough you crushed my spirit on the Razorbaptists site about Bama, I think you are dead on about this subject.

    I feel for Dr. Gaines. That is not the way to handle a churches dirty laundry. It is much like it was 20 years ago when I was a member at Dawson Memorial and they sent out letters. I don’t think it brings any glory to God.

  3. The Oklahoma Mainstream Baptist site has a different view on this deal. Prescott’s perspective is that there are times some things should be brought out of darkness into the light. He says at least the conversation is out in the open for all to see and hear.

  4. Danny, two observations about blogs. First, I appreciate the immediacy of blogs. Usually they are a “stream of consciousness” type of writing akin to one’s personal journal. I tend to think that the blogger is “thinking out loud” about his or her impression about an event or personal experience. Second, since I hold to the first principle, my other observation is that these are personal impressions, not journalistic endeavors; therefore, I don’t expect the same level of credibility that I would from a published account in a newspaper or magazine (and I honestly don’t always give them credibility!). A blog stimulates my thinking, but I don’t consider it an objective, unbiased reporting of the facts.This doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate them, but I try not to put them in a category of information where they do not belong.

    By the way, I like yours!

  5. USA Today had an article about someone getting sued by a lawyer for slander. This is like the Old WEst with no sheriff to keep order. Time will tell.

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