Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Book Review - "The Blogging Church"

(This post concludes this month's focus on blogging as a ministry tool...)

Book Review - "The Blogging Church" by Brian Bailey with Terry Storch.

Marketing expert Seth Godin says "Brian Bailey makes two things crystal clear in this book: if you've got a church, then you need to spread your story. And if you need to spread your story, blogs are now an essential tool. Time to pay attention!" Brian has uploaded to Google a video clip about the book. One of the most interesting features of the book is the inclusion of several short chapters by pioneering bloggers such as Robert Scoble, Dave Winer, Kathy Sierra, Guy Kawasaki, as well as leading pastors who have seen the benefit of blogging, such as Mark Driscoll, Tony Morgan, Perry Noble, Greg Surratt, Craig Groeschel and Mark Batterson.

Brian Bailey is an excellent writer and pioneer of blogging for the benefit of church ministry. Terry Storch has been a member of the leadership team at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, where he was influential for many pastors to get started in blogging. He's currently involved in the dynamic multi-site ministry, in Oklahoma City, OK. The preface of the book explains...
"Blogging is a revolution in communication, community, and authentic conversation; a revolution that churches cannot afford to ignore. Welcome to the blogosphere - the new online home of the curious creature. If you're feeling a little disoriented and having trouble reading the street signs, don't worry, you're holding in your hand the field manual for the blogosphere."
This is a good summary of the book - it describes why blogging is becoming so important, why it's a powerful tool for churches, followed by practical details on how to actually get started. The chapters in the book are:

Chapter 1. The Story of Blogging
Chapter 2. Why Blog?
Chapter 3. Share News
Chapter 4. Cast Vision
Chapter 5. Reach Out
Chapter 6. Connect your Staff
Chapter 7. Learn from Others
Chapter 8. Spread the Word
Chapter 9. Get Started
Chapter 10. Build a Better Blog
Chapter 11. Build a Really Bad Blog
Chapter 12. Feed your Head: RSS
Chapter 13. Podcasting
Chapter 14. Warning Labels
Chapter 15. Built to Last
Chapter 16. The One Thing

Interspersed between these chapters are "Five Questions With..." blogging pastors and ministry websites: Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Craig Groeschel, Church Marketing Sucks, Tony Morgan, Greg Surratt, Mark Batterson. These questions focus on how and why they got started and what impact blogging has had on their ministry.

Overall the book is an excellent mix of why and how. Tips and discussion topics I found most interesting include: Don't bury the good stuff; Who is the blog for; the ten steps to a bad blog; pros and cons of comments; what problem are you trying to solve; what is the return on ministry; share the why behind the what; and, should my church become a blogging church. The final chapter gives some sage advice from several prominent bloggers including Guy Kawasaki, Dave Winer, Kathy Sierra, Robert Scoble and many others.

The authors have covered a lot of material in 199 pages, and no doubt had to work hard to keep the book focused and brief. As one who likes tons of detail and discussion, I would have loved to see more info on the use of blogs for team and/or individual ministries within the church, as well as discussion about the relationship between blogging and other technology tools for building community and improving communication (e.g. portals, forums, social groups, wikis, video, streaming, and online collaboration tools such as those developed by 37signals). Then again, all this material would be enough for another whole volume.

If you're trying to figure out whether your church should get involved with blogging, or how to get started in a way that will maximize impact on ministry, "The Blogging Church" by Brian Bailey with Terry Storch is a must-read.

Larry Baxter - Deacon and IT Ministry Leader, Calvary Baptist Church, West Lafayette, IN.
(and thanks to this book and encouragement from friends, a new blogger)

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