This paper explores how Christians are using blogging for spiritual formation and howthey are redefining the scope of Martin Luther’s “the priesthood of the believer”.Throughout the paper, I will defend my claim that “we know more than our pastors” andby the end of the paper, I will show why bloggers are the vanguard of what I am callingthe “participatory church”.I started blogging July 9, 2002 and I believe that this increasingly popular online activitysignifies an impending sea change for pastors and the church. This paper is the resultof a survey I conducted from October to November 2003 and over six months ofresearch.
My conclusion is simple: bloggers know more than our pastors.
I believe that ournetwork of blogs exceed the reach of any single pastor. To be clear, no one thinks theyare personally smarter or more “called” than any pastor. However, as a network, weknow more than our pastors. In this, we are not alone. Thousands of bloggerscircumvent established hierarchies and relate unmediated with one another. We arepart of a participatory phenomenon that is impacting mass media, technology,education, entertainment, politics, journalism and business.Emboldened by this participatory movement and empowered by easy-to-usetechnology, we are starting to expect different things from our churches, pastors anddenominations. We look forward to something more profound from our churches thanvision casting, finding our spiritual gifts, mall-like facilities, coffee bars and candles. Weexpect to participate; we expect to co-create the church.As bloggers, we take an active role in our personal spiritual formation. We takeseriously Paul’s admonition to participate, “When you come together, everyone has ahymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of thesemust be done for the strengthening of the church.”
As we blog, we push the boundariesof what Martin Luther meant when he wrote about the “priesthood of all believers”.
Blogging is creating a robust and growing network of participators. We are not just anew kind of Christian or an “emerging church” fad. We are a new kind of preacher,theologian, pundit, apologist and church-goer. We exist outside (and inside) churchhierarchies. The phenomenon of blogging is transforming our expectations of church.Soon this meme—a product of our online spiritual formation—will emerge from ourcyberchurch and transform the existing church.I believe that bloggers represent a vanguard that is co-creating a new kind of“participatory church”. In this paper, I will attempt to describe blogging, explain thespecifics of blogging, explore the participatory social movement and describe theemerging “participatory church”.