Blogging Can Burn Pastors

February 8, 2006 by

We like blogging. That’s fairly obvious, coming from a blog, but we definitely encourage churches and pastors to blog (and we’re just waiting for that book). But you have to follow one rule: blog smart. Being less than careful with your language can land you in the New York Times (registration required). And that’s not exactly the press coverage you’re looking for.

Just ask Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, who made the following statement on his blog in reaction to the controversy over a gay man starring in the evangelical film End of the Spear:

“Granted, we must not overreact. And it would probably be an overreaction to firebomb these men’s houses.”

Probably? The statement caused a storm of criticism, prompting Bauder to issue an apology.

The lesson? Blogs may be a little more relaxed and casual, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get burned. Be careful what you say. And if you do slip up, be smart (like Bauder) and make amends.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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6 Responses to “Blogging Can Burn Pastors”

  • Arlan Daniels
    February 8, 2006

    Hi Kevin, I think when Mr. Bauder used the word ‘probably’ it sounded like he was trying to avoid telling someone what to do. It’s like this: “it’s just my suggestion, but you might not want to firebomb so and so’s car.” You think? I think I got “DUH!” point.
    It’s unfortunate that we tend to focus on one word in a paragraph and then conclude what a persons intent is. We also tend to conclude the worst in someone without first having all the facts.

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    February 8, 2006

    Hey Arlan, I’m not the one who misunderstood Bauder. I’m just pointing out how easily you can be misunderstood and how quickly it can escalate.
    I also think it’s pretty safe to come right out and tell someone not to firebomb someone else. That’s an issue that shouldn’t require any waffling. Most of the reactions are because of the flippancy with which he used such a violent action.

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  • Michael Box
    February 8, 2006

    Unfortunately, blogs, instant messages, and email lack the ability to effectively communicate humor or sarcasm. I have been guilty of using words or phrases on my own blog that have caused hurt feelings or anger. E-media is effective in so many ways in ministry, but it does offer challenges. I have started filtering all of my e-messages (email, blog postings, etc.) through my wife. This allows me to keep my humor and personality in what I write, but also protect the feelings or interests of others.

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  • Arlan Daniels
    February 8, 2006

    Kevin… I meant to state that I wasn’t pointing out you. Your point was valid. Sometimes there’s a disconnect between what I write and what I thought I wrote. Texting is funny that way isn’t it?
    I also like Michael’s idea which I already do with my podcast and most of the time with my blog before it gets posted.

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  • David Hamstra
    February 10, 2006

    “Firebomb?” “Burn Pastors”? Are you making fun of this situation?! I demand an apology!
    [Just kidding]

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  • Kent Shaffer
    February 11, 2006

    It is interesting to look at how corporations view or police the act of blogging over the past year. It is amazing at how big of an issue it was in 2005.
    If corporate America sees risk in it, pastors should equally consider everything they publish via the world wide web. However, I think that Pastors should not only be careful about what they write online but what their staff and staff’s immediate family writes online. For me I see one of the biggest PR time bombs as what ministers’ children say and how they act online.
    I say ministers’ children because we assume that the ministers know how to behave online, even though some may not. Blogs, forums, myspace, and facebook are the quickest way for people to find out what the pastor or pastor’s kids are really like.
    Two main points come to mind:
    1. Paul says we must try not to offend others so that we may have a greater potential to minister them. Hence, do not write anything potentially offensive online.
    2. We can’t be Sunday Christians and act one way on church property and act inappropriately off church property. This includes the households of ministers.

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