Right now I am reaching far back into the recesses of my brain for moments of inspiration. These inspirational moments are drawn from one of my favorite parts of T4G, the Band of Bloggers pre-conference.
Registration cost for Band of Bloggers is very low, usually around $30 and includes a sack lunch from Chick-fil-a. Each attendee receives a haul of book. This year it was 30 titles total! And of course, this pre-conference is held at Southern Seminary, so attendees have the pleasure of walking this historic and beautiful seminary campus.
Band of Bloggers meets in tandem with T4G. It is a gathering of those who are interested in what happens in the Christian blogosphere. At each meeting a panel discussion takes place. This year Collin Hansen, an editor for the Gospel Coalition web blog, moderated the discussion with panelists Justin Taylor, Trevin Wax, Joe Thorn, Denny Burk, and Tim Brister.
Here are seven reflections from this year’s Band of Bloggers.
1. Bloggers aren’t pixels; they’re people.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting any of the men on the panel, you would discover that they are kind and pious men, every one of them. Watching them on display, speaking with candor and enjoying hearty banter with one another, is a joy.
2. We further Jesus’s platform like John the Baptist or Paul did.
One of the early points out the gate that Trevin Wax made is that we should not try to learn from how Jesus built His platform. If so, we’d be innately self-serving, because that is precisely what Jesus does and should do. His greatest joy is to make much of Himself. Our greatest joy is to make much of Him. Thus, we should learn from John the Baptist or Paul’s example. We must decrease so that He might increase.
3. Christian bloggers should be qualified and tested voices.
The panelists didn’t go so far as to say that Christian bloggers should be called to ministry, but they should be able handlers of the Word and qualified teachers. Anyone can start a blog and have a voice, but is that voice worthy of listeners. Readers should look at the qualifications of the blogger. Is the blogger theologically trained? Is the blogger a pastor or professor? Does the blogger have a reliable voice tested by time?
4. Blogs should be extensions of real life ministry with real life people.
Many of the bloggers on the panel explained how their blog started and continues as an extension of their ministry. Some of their key audience is their congregation or the classroom they influence in real life. If what is written in the digital world does not translate into help for the real world, then it fails the test of praxis. Theory must become practice.
5. Freedom and risk is attached to independent bloggers.
Independent bloggers have more freedom to speak to certain issues because they are not expected to represent an organization. This can be advantageous because independent bloggers have a freer voice. Sometimes this is the manner in which a blogger emerges out of anonymity. They give a timely word about a timely issue. They may even critique that which bloggers connected to an organization might wish to critique but have not the freedom to do so because of a tie to a tribe or organization.
Of course, with this freedom comes a lack of accountability. Independent bloggers should seek accountability with others who might hold them accountable for what they say.
6. Social media conscientiousness is important.
Possibly the most entertaining, used, and discussed bit from this years Band of Bloggers is spawned from Hansen’s last question directed to the panel. Should we ReTweet compliments? Justin Taylor brought this immediately into the arena of sin, by calling it just that. It is a manner of consciousness that should be addressed. It’s sin that must be put under the heel.
Too few of us think about these issues, whether one is a broadcaster, influencer, or participant. Our digital words have eternal consequences. Thank you Justin for bringing this to our attention.
7. Bloggers selflessly serve others with their writing.
This is something that implicitly came out of the panel discussion. These guys took a couple hours to share with others something they care about. They didn’t have to do this with their time. They did it to serve others.
For the most part, people, even the panelists, don’t earn a living blogging. It is actually a costly practice. For most, it serves as an outlet of thinking and an extension of ministry. They do this to edify others. Their aim is our holiness.
Before we callously troll around a blog and tear apart someone’s writing, we should consider why it is written. Bloggers write to help. Bloggers write to divide right from wrong, truth from error. Bloggers write to serve.
This message came across in every way in which the panelists postured their responses. They wanted to further a discussion and guide the course of a movement in a beneficial, healthy, and orderly fashion.
If you want to listen to the discussion between Trevin Wax, Justin Taylor, Dr. Denny Burk, Joe Thorn and Collin Hansen please go here: http://www.sbts.edu/resources/conferences/band-of-bloggers-panel-discussion/