For a busy parish pastor, a blog has the potential of becoming your most effective and time-efficient tool for evangelization.
A pastor’s fantasy
Think of it this way. Suppose that after Mass next Sunday, you are shaking hands and saying goodbye to parishioners as they leave. A new person greets you and says, “Father, I’m thinking of becoming Catholic. Can you tell me what I would need to do?” Now suppose the rest of your Sunday is completely free. And suppose you are not exhausted from the killer week of meetings, weddings, and funerals you just completed. (Hey, this is a fantasy. Bear with me.) If you had all the time and energy in the world, you could spend the next couple of hours just chatting with the seeker that the Holy Spirit sent to you at that moment.
But you don’t have all the time and energy in the world. You’ve got the next Mass or the emergency finance council meeting or lunch scheduled with the capital campaign chairperson (and largest contributor to the parish). And even if you have nothing else scheduled, you’ve been looking forward to your first free Sunday afternoon in a month to just kick back and watch the game.
Now imagine there are ten such seekers and imagine there are ten more next Sunday and ten more the Sunday after that. Because in a medium-sized parish with three Masses on a weekend, that’s the potential. You can’t possibly meet, individually, with each and every one of those seekers. But they can “meet” you—if you are blogging.
When you put yourself out there on a blog, people get to know you as a person. Even if you are blogging about what you had for dinner, over time, people will discover your level of integrity, what you are passionate about, what you know about, and what you think is important in life. And they will also encounter you as a person of faith—which is what they are seeking in the first place.
No time to blog
But doesn’t blogging take time? Precious time that you don’t have to spare? Yes to the first question, no to the second. Evangelization is the number one job for parishes. Take out your calendar and add up the number of hours you are evangelizing this week. Then add up the number of seekers your evangelization efforts are touching this week. What do you think? Are you spending enough time on job one? Are you reaching enough people? If so, maybe you don’t need to blog. But most pastors are caught up in a lot of “smaller” jobs related to just keeping the parish afloat.
What if you could carve out one hour a week for evangelization and touch hundreds or maybe thousands of seekers? That’s what I’m suggesting. Write two short posts a week. Spend 30 minutes on each. And get yourself out there in the blogosphere as the evangelizer-in-chief for your parish.
And really—if you think you are too busy to blog, check out this guy! You can’t possibly have more on your plate than he does.
What to blog about?
I think what stops most pastors from blogging is not the time it takes. It’s writer’s block. What in the world would people be interested in that you would have to say? Okay, you’re going to have to imagine with me again. Or better yet, remember.
Remember back before you were a priest. Maybe remember all the way back to childhood. What did you think of priests? Weren’t you wildly curious about what kind of people they were? What they did? Why they became a priest? Did they pray all the time? Do they talk directly to God? And does God answer? Just because you have come to realize that priests are flesh-and-blood people like the rest of us doesn’t mean the rest of the world has. Seekers in particular, who are not likely to know any priests personally, are fascinated with the whole idea of “priest.” So draw back the curtain a little, and let them peak inside. You can blog about anything. It doesn’t have to be about faith or the church. In fact, it’s probably better if some of your posts are more “secular.” Here is a short list of some ideas to blog about, but don’t limit yourself to these:
- The last movie you saw
- The last book you read
- A joke someone told at the priests’ retreat
- A Scripture passage you are struggling with as you try to write this Sunday’s homily
- A great meal you had at a parishioner’s house
- What the bishop said to you the last time you spoke with him
- How you pray
- Your best (and worst) golf score
- What you would do if you weren’t a priest
- A list of hopes you have for the parish in the coming year
- Pictures from your last vacation
- The last time you blessed a car and what you think of blessing cars
- The hobby you wish you had more time for
- Your favorite musician / your least favorite musician
- How you will be spending the next holiday
- Saint of the day and why that saint is important to you
- What the upcoming Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist holy day means and how Catholics should think of it
When I said you could blog about anything, I meant anything within reason. The U.S. Bishops have recently posted some very helpful guidelines on social media that you should read before you start blogging.
And here are five reasons you don’t need a social media policy!
Are you already blogging? Good for you! Post a link in the comments because your example will help the rest of us learn.
Do you have questions about getting started? I can help. Post a comment or send me an e-mail.