Some of you know that I have recently been ordained, and with that ordination comes the distinction of being the Associate Pastor for Media (TM) at Westminster Church. In the days that have followed my ordination, so many folks have asked me what exactly that means, and how exactly that will change my job. And I have the same answer now that I did on ordination day: I have no stinking clue!
At the most basic level, this new job is both simple and horrifying. Simply put, its up to me to find new ways to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. What makes that terrifying is that I am tasked with doing so in the wild west of the internet world. I mean, even before I started the new gig, I was doing my best to call Facebook my mission field, and to help to bring civility to the digital discourse. Would you like to see a progress report?
...it's not been going well.
Whereas I was hoping that we could turn the number one digital platform in the world into a place where honest, respectful debate could occur about serious issues, the users of Facebook have decided that they will do one of two things: A) Assert their position loudly with or without facts and B) long for the days when cat photos were popular. So either I am ruining someone's worldview by asking questions and poking into the soundbytes of the world, or I am ruining someone's coffee break by not posting photos of cats in sweaters.
But I still proceed, for two very important reasons. 1) Because the Gospel calls me to. There is, believe it or not, good news going on all around us. And I'm not talking about "Girl Scout Troop Raises $1,000,000 in cookie sales while rescuing a cat out of a tree" good news. I'm talking about the liberating, redeeming, grace-filled work of Jesus Christ Good News that's happening all around us, and more folks ought to be made aware of this. And 2) even if that weren't true, I still in my heart of hearts believe that we as a nation are capable and deserving of a better discourse than the one we've been engaged in up till now. I believe that there are better ways forward than just labeling each other as snowflakes or bigots without getting at the heart of any particular position. I believe we can debate ideas while loving people. I believe we are capable of a great debate while at the same time showing great respect to those who disagree. The last few months have done all they can to beat that opinion out of me, but somewhere in the corner of my heart I still believe we can do better.
So on one level, I get really scared of my new job. But on other levels, I'm super excited. The Gospel message has never EVER changed, but the packaging has done everything it can to keep up with the times of the listeners. I have been invited to rethink the packaging for a new generation, and that's a really sweet gig.
We've already started to dip our toes in the water as a church into these uncharted lands, but there's more experimentation to do. We're starting to look deeper into video production, which has me watching Casey Neistat videos like some sort of YouTube junkie. I've been doing research like crazy. I've been experimenting, sometimes with tremendous success, and sometimes with big old balls of fire. And all of that is super fun and exciting.
But I also figure if I'm going to have a pretentious title like "Media Pastor," I ought to keep up with my own media. So the J-Blog needs to get an update, a refresh, and a do-over. I've always loved publishing for the three of you who read this my thoughts, to work out through writing some of the more difficult challenges I'm facing down. I'm sure I'm going to be facing down even more. So the J-Blog's new mission will be to come up with refreshing answers to this question: How do we best preach the Gospel in this digital world? To be sure there are folks out there who are doing this very VERY poorly. There are digital presences out there who act in the name of Christ, but make me want to puke when I see what they've made. We can do better. Around here, we're going to be looking at fresh ways to spread the Gospel. And of course, there will be the occasional funny story from J-world, and even more occasional musings about the Penguins. But hopefully, we'll cut through the Clutter and the Noise of this digital landscape and start proclaiming the goodness of Jesus Christ. His life means something for you and I. The empty tomb is the most powerful thing we have in a world where death and all of his friends seem to have the upper hand. Friends, they don't. I promise.
So I'll do my level best to have more regular posts. You can help and encourage me in this endeavor by commenting, sharing, and engaging in the conversation around the blog. As always, keep checking in at Westminster's Blog too, as I'll pop up from time to time as an author there, and the times I'm not an author will feature people much much MUCH smarter than I. And keep an eye out for new videos and perhaps (dare I say) Vlogs, because who doesn't want to see this handsome devil from time to time?
More to come, I promise this time!