The internet has made it easy for teachers–good and bad–to share their words with the world. It is easy for even a sound teacher to get sloppy from time to time. And there is always a temptation to portray oneself in a better light online than what reality would bear.
Not every blogger needs an accountability structure. But what about the ministry-focused blog, thrust out into the blogosphere for public consumption? I believe these blogs should maintain a higher standard.
If you are seeking to use your blog to encourage other women and to minister to their spiritual needs, do you have any accountability structures in place? Do your friends in real life know about your blog? Does your husband ever read it? Is your pastor aware of it, and does he have the address? Is your blog appropriate for all ages? Do you take time to ensure that your teaching is biblical? Do you ever use your blog to slander or gossip about Christian leaders? Are you painting a picture of yourself that looks different from the one your friends and family see every day?
These are questions which the ministering blogger would do well to consider. I recognize that my readers and listeners have placed their trust in me, and I take that very seriously. As the Scriptures say, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly,” James 3:1.
For this reason, I have had the following accountability structures in place since the beginning for my personal blog, Counter-cultural Mom.
1) I never publish a single post on Counter-cultural Mom that has not been first read and approved by my husband, my first line of defense. He checks for tone and theological accuracy. He often suggests topics for me to blog about, and we frequently discuss ideas for the blog. If he does not like a particular post, it is not published.
2) Let us not blog in secret, dear sisters! I have several friends IRL (in real life) who read my blogs. They know whether I’m practicing what I preach and will call me out on it if I’m blogging hypocritically.
3) My pastor and church elder board have full access to my blogs and podcasts, and check in as often as they care to. They know that if they find something they feel is heretical or untrue, it will be immediately retracted. I do not presume to teach men. When my husband and elders read this blog, it is only to provide oversight and accountability.
4) I do not maintain this same standard with my Counter-Cultural School blog, where I am sharing about practical matters. Some of my real-life friends read the blog, and that is important accountability, so that I am not tempted to portray our homeschool in an untrue light. But my husband does not read any of those posts before they are published, and my pastor doesn’t read it at all.
It is the ministry blog which I believe must submit to a more rigorous standard. And even on the ministry blog, not all posts need equal attention. It is those posts which seek to teach the Scriptures which need this kind of oversight. Although my husband reads every post before I publish it, we do not worry over posts about parenting methods or encouraging anecdotes the way we do over posts that teach.
As a podcaster who is seeking to encourage and teach other women from the Scriptures, I have these accountability structures in place:
1) Every podcast begins with copious notes and lengthy discussions with my husband. Again, he is a vital part of the process, a behind-the-scenes counselor and adviser. Many key points come from him.
2) After I write a podcast message, my husband reads it through carefully for personal accuracy in the details, theological accuracy in the Scriptures, and for tone (challenging but encouraging, not harsh or condescending).
3) After the text meets with my husband’s approval, I send the message off to several trusted Christian friends, all of them ladies who share the same commitment to theological accuracy and to women’s ministry that I have. They, too, minister behind the scenes to ensure that everything is clear and logical, true and helpful. They suggest additional Scriptures and check my references, and they add points where needed and help me work out areas that don’t communicate well enough. These ladies have all known me for many years, and they provide another level of accountability, that I am living what I am teaching.
4) Then the text is recorded and sent to yet a different group of ladies, who listen to the message and provide feedback. If a point was still unclear, if it left them with unanswered questions, or if they have any constructive comments at all, these are taken into consideration for the final draft and the message is re-recorded if necessary.
Usually I have people who do NOT know me in real life listen to the podcasts before they are released for general consumption. These are friends I’ve gotten to know through the internet, women whom I have come to trust although we have not met. They provide a different kind of accountability, as they are able to hear the podcast in a way that my husband and IRL friends cannot do. They don’t know me well enough to overlook it if I say something that comes across the wrong way.
5) Only then is the podcast finally recorded again and released to the public.
Are you a blogger or a podcaster? Is your blog informative and practical in nature, or are you seeking to teach the Bible? If you are, I would encourage you to put some accountability structures in place.
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3
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