I’ve had two people express concern (off-line) about the content of this blog, which has prompted me to ask the question – what is the purpose of this website?
One comment was to the effect that I am promoting the ministry of one church, whereas it should only be used to promote the ministry of the combined churches. The other said I was being controversial, but understood why I was doing this! The latter comment I agreed with, as can be seen below. The first I could only agree with if we both had the same understanding of what the ministry of the combined churches consists.
My problem is how do you decide what this is? When is something that is happening in one part of the body divorced from the rest of the body, especially in the light of 1 Corinthians 12.
We did have this discussion some time ago when we were Awakening Hobsons Bay, but the tension between openness and exclusivity was never resolved to my satisfaction.
My position on this is probably obvious – as few restricitons as possible consistent with fairness. If something good (or bad) is happening in one of the churches, then it affects the whole church – and I want to know about it. We are ONE church, aren’t we? A website that only reports what we already know we are doing together is of no use at all.
The reasons the entries so far have been from only one church are fourfold:
1. Only one church is using the blog, because no-one else has asked me for access. It is provided as a means for church leaders to comment on issues and pass on news and views, but so far they haven’t.
2. I wanted to get the blog rolling.
3. I tried to get some kind of reaction, and at last this seems to have happened. Someone actually is reading this blog, and therefore visiting the site. (Of course, I knew you were reading it Ben. Now at least one more is doing so).
4. I was testing the various configurations of the system, in particular the interaction between the blogs and the Google groups, and needed something to post. The two entries that possibly caused offense are in fact from one of my other blogs.
If it is the websites that I link to in the post titles that are the problem, I have been doing this purely to provide backlinks to raise the rankings of this family of websites in Google so that more people will find the site. Otherwise these links are not particularly significant at present.
Aside from this, I don’t believe passing on news is promotion of one’s own ministry (and even if it is, it could still be a valid use of the site). The Hearing God’s Voice course was open to all churches. Unfortunately, while among the 40 who did the course were people from all over Victoria, support from Hobsons Bay was minimal, despite several expressions of interest from local leaders when the course was proposed.
The course was run by Beth Tephillah Ministries at Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre, with the support of but not by Williamstown Baptist Church. Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre is a resource for the whole church of Hobsons Bay.
The entry about what we believe at Willy Baptist was a request for comment (none was received). In fact, the posting did not contain any information about what we believe – it provided a link to another website that people could follow or ignore as they wished.
Let’s look at a hypothetical case. If someone in Hobsons Bay Churches found an excellent website that they thought could benefit others, would posting a link to it constitute promotion of an individual ministry? I think not. But if the site happens to belong to someone in Hobsons Bay Churches, does this mean it can’t be mentioned? If so, we are all likely to be significantly impoverished.
I have a passion for helping the Christian Church to use the Internet effectively for Kingdom business. Does this disqualify me from any input to this website? After all, it is part of my ministry! Perhaps it’s OK as long as I only share my thoughts and ideas off-line.
The posting about the Pope was something I felt sure we all would like to have done, and I wanted it to be timely.
Of course, offending items are very easily removed, but I will wait for further discussion before deciding whether or not to do so.
Bear in mind that if you don’t contribute to the development of your website, at least with comment if not with more constructive input, then it might not end up how you want it. The same holds for the two Google groups that I have set up and will be emailing information about shortly.
Personally, I have been very disappointed when churches in Hobsons Bay have had great visiting speakers that I only found out about after the event. I’m sure others have similarly missed out through lack of communication. If anyone thinks that we should be restrictive in this area then it would be great to hear why they think so, not just that they do think so.
I wouold rather think that, while upholding the need for privacy, we should be able to share anything online that we would share at any other time we come together.