The changing face of blogging

I love the guys at Despair, Inc. Their “demotivator” material is a riot and provides helpful social commentary. This is one of their newer posters and is indicative of their wit and wisdom.

It is clearly noticeable that blogging has slowed down. Not only here, but throughout the blogosphere it seems that, as a phenomenon, blogging reached its peak a year or so ago (which in blog-years, is about a generation). It’s not going away. Some uber-bloggers are still worth reading regularly. But there simply aren’t that many bloggers who consistently have something to say that is worth reading.

A far greater number have some really good things to say occasionally, and I am grateful that this medium exists to make those pieces of wisdom readily available. I am also grateful for Justin Taylor, and others like him, who consistently call attention to individual blog posts that are particularly worth reading.

Blogging has helped shape the conversation in the SBC in ways that are mostly good, I believe. First, some of the foolish things that have been said and done by SBC influencers over the last 3 years have been held up to the light of scrutiny and properly chastened as bloggers have given unvarnished accounts of them. This has frustrated and angered many who missed the sea change that occurred in communications a few years ago.

Previously, if a prominent Southern Baptist said or did something dumb, their reputations could be protected through well-honed denominational spin and scrub techniques. Because the gate-keepers were were few and well-entrenched, the information that made its way to the public was often closer to propoganda than news. With blogging, the curtains were pulled back and lights were turned on in ways that surprised and often embarrassed some who were unaccustomed to having their words and actions scrutinized, much less challenged.

After the initial complaints and attempts to discredit this new way of communicating (anybody remember the charges that blogging is nothing more than graffiti or porn?), most of these protesters became chastened by the process and have become more circumspect in their (public) comments. That is a good thing, because it has significantly lowered the harsh rhetoric that has too often characterized some of our internal Baptist Battles conversations.

A second way blogging has helped is that it has allowed for more voices to be added to those conversations than would otherwise be the case. Not all of them are equally helpful, but some of them have provided wonderful insights that would never have been given a hearing if it were left up to the old-line gatekeepers. Granted, the volume has some times been ramped up too much and all of the chatter can at times be distracting, but, all-in-all, it has been refreshing to hear some new voices in the mix, often with new and better perspectives than the typical party line that previously monopolized denominational lines of communication.

Blogging will continue to play an important role in the future SBC. If nothing else, its presence helps keep folks honest. I intend to keep this blog going, though, as is rather obvious from the last few months, the frequency of my posts will not keep pace with the previous 3 years. I also hope to begin blogging fairly soon at our new church site and perhaps at one other site that is yet to be launched. When that happens, I will mention it here.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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