Policies and Procedures for Pilgrim’s Blog

by

Guidelines for Church Blog

Background

The experiences of many people collaborating through web tools supports the idea that there are three primary areas that need to be defined, to make online collaboration and information-sharing successful:

  • Technology—what technological tools can and will be used? What are the capabilities of these tools?

  • Policies and procedures—what are the “rules of the game?” What are the roles people will play in this process?

  • Content—what will be put on the blog? What is the purpose of this content?

Each of these areas must be defined individually, and they must be aligned, so that one area does not conflict with the other two.

To help Pilgrim established a successful experience for its blog, here are some initial recommendations for these three areas:

Content

    The primary purpose of the blog is to be an external communication site to the wider community. The blog can duplicate information that is published in our church bulletin, newsletter and website:

      • Promote church events, activities, and resources to the broader community, thus attracting new people to Pilgrim.
      • Share information about Pilgrim with current members, so they can be well-informed about opportunities to participate in church activities.
      • Encourage Pilgrim members to share their enthusiasm about church activities, making Pilgrim a welcoming place for people in the broader community
      • Engage the Pilgrim community in theological conversations.

    Non-members can post messages to the blog, but the Administrator will ensure that these posts are appropriate and relevant to the purpose and content of the blog

    The blog can be an extension of the communication methods Pilgrim presently uses, as well as a supplement to these methods:

    · Church newsletter articles can be posted on the blog, for comment by members.

    · Announcements of upcoming events can be made.

    · Designated Pilgrims may choose to post updates about our sister church in Tanzania.

    The blog is not a place to conduct debates about the church or to criticize Pilgrim, its members or staff. Criticisms should be handled in private, face to face communications.

    Inappropriate posts include:

      • Posts that use derogatory language about any person or organization.
      • Political statements, references to political events, or political position statements.
      • Statements that include offensive language (e.g.,cursing, derogatory slang, racist or sexist remarks).

    The administrator reviews and can edit any posts that are posted to the blog. Posts that contain inappropriate language will not be posted. The poster will be invited to edit their post. If they refuse, their post will not be posted. This purpose statement and statement of appropriateness should be posted on the Pilgrim blog weekly by the Blog Administrator.

    While partisan political statements are not appropriate for this blog, statements can be made on positions, particularly if they are consistent with public policy initiatives of the Lutheran Church (example: Ending Poverty in Minnesota initiative).

    Recruiting volunteers for activities should be done primarily through our church bulletin and newsletter, since they are the most comprehensive communication channels of our church. Invitations to participate in church activities can be duplicated on the blog.

    Detailed minutes of church committees should not be posted on this blog. Better posts are short summaries of committee activities.

    Policies and Responsibilities

    Main posts to the blog can be composed by a vestry members, committee chairs, staff, and the Blog Administrator, appointed by the Vestry. An example of a “main post” might be:

    “We had a great book discussion about John Dominic Crossan’s God and Empire. If you would like to post your thoughts about this book and/or the book discussion, post them here.”

    The Blog Administrator should have the technical expertise to open the blog, compose and post messages, and edit/eliminate inappropriate postings.

    The administrator will report regularly to the Vestry and the Evangelism Committee on the number of posts made to the blog and the general content of the posts.

    The administrator will bring to the attention of the Evangelism Committee any inappropriate posts that were attempted.

    These policies and procedures and definitions of roles and responsibilities will be regularly reviewed by the Evangelism Committee and the administrator, for the purposes of updating and improving them. Regular reports will be made to the Vestry on blog activity.

    Technology

      The blog should be coordinated with the webmaster for the church. A link from the church website to the blog should be established.

      A simple blogging tool, available from wordpress.com should be used. This tool has basic capabilities for delivering a blog on the internet.

      WordPress.com provides these blog spaces for free, so there is no cost to Pilgrim.

      The wordpress.com blog allows for the oversight required by Pilgrim, to ensure that only appropriate blog entries are posted.

      The wordpress.com blog does allow the posting of pictures taken at church events.

      ————————————————————————————————–

      Following are some examples of church blogs and resources, created by “mainline” churches:

      http://blahguy.com/

      AJ Swodoba, Campus Pastor

      AJ Swoboda is the college pastor at the Onyx House, the college ministry of Eugene Faith Center on campus of the University of Oregon. Along with his wife Quinn, they live in a Christian co-op with 60 students just off the campus at the University. He recently graduated from George Fox Evangelical Seminary with a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies and is working on a PhD right now in England at the University of Birmingham. Currently, he is leading the community at the Onyx House, writing, teaching classes on the Pentateuch and Pneumatology, and reading a ton. He loves the environment, the green cause, reading books by dead Christians, Brian McLaren, and watching “The Office” on Thursday nights. Feel free to email him at mrajswoboda@hotmail.com.

      (George Fox Seminary started out as a seminar of the Ev. Free Church and The Friends. It now trains ministers for 30 denominations.)

      http://www.faithandweb.com/about/

      Anna Belle Lieserson, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, TN

      http://mynameisbrandon.wordpress.com/about/

      Brandon Smith, Campus Ministry, Northwest Missouri State University

      http://cheltenham.wordpress.com/

      Jim Waters, member and blogger for Cambray Baptist Church, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK

      http://weekirk.wordpress.com/about/

      Presbyterian Church in New Jersey

      Advertisements

      7 Responses to “Policies and Procedures for Pilgrim’s Blog”

      1. Reva Says:

        More: I really think we would hope to have people write personal items for posting or as comments. these could be particularly interesting. Such as reflections on:
        sermons
        soup dinners
        new member dinners
        salt shake dinners

        Would we need some guidelines for these? The obvious, such as no swearing and then what?

      2. pilgrimstpaul Says:

        Reva,

        1. I agree completely about posting items from the monthly newsletter. This blog is another channel to get info from the newsletter out to folks. I think Carol told me recently (and my political experience supports this), that you need to get a message to folks at least 5-7 times, before they really remember it.

        2. Yes, we should add guidelines on language. I’m not sure about other guidelines for the kinds of posts you’re suggesting. Your ideas?

        3. Yes, those other additions would be great.

      3. Tony Whittaker Says:

        We have a page on blogging as an evangelistic opportunity at

        blogging
        but it also includes links to various tools and ideas

        blessings

        tony

      4. Penny Bartz Says:

        Thanks, Paul for your guidance with the blog policies and procedures. I agree that wordpress.com looked like a very user-friendly blogging tool, and its capabilities for the administrator to accept or reject postings is very conducive to the blogging environment that we’re looking for at Pilgrim.

        In terms of policies, procedures and content, we will have to come up with guidelines for “acceptable” blog entries for the administrator(s), and I’m assuming that those guidelines will have to be approved by vestry. Straight forward entries, such as newsletters, etc. should not be a problem, but comments/opinions/discussions are where it might get more complicated. I think if we come up with some general blog entry guidelines, it will make people more comfortable with the idea of a Pilgrim blog.

        Finally, I’m concerned about the Evangelism Committee being the sole committee that takes on the blog. I really like the idea of having a technology committee, or one member from each committee that could be a blog “subgroup”. We’ll have to think about how something like that could play out.

        All in all, I am much more excited about a Pilgrim blog after seeing a demonstration and how this could play out at our church!

        Penny Bartz

      5. pilgrimstpaul Says:

        To the Evangelism Committee:

        You’ll see that a visitor from totally outside of the Pilgrim “circle” posted a message–Tony Whittaker. While I don’t agree with everything posted by Tony, this is a good example of what might happen, if we open this blog up.

        Notice, too, that Tony has included a link to a “christian evangelism on the web” site, which looks interesting,but, once again, we may not agree with everything on this site.

        In particular , I’m not a fan of Tony’s strategy of enticing people to our blog, by posting messages about sports, the arts, etc. and then, when someone shows interest, give them the “message” about Pilgrim. I’m much more in favor of being straightforward with people, and telling them straight out what this blog is all about. No hidden messages.

        Tony’s post is what I would call a “borderline” message–it’s not offensive, in the usual sense of the word (no bad language, pictures, etc.), however, it represents an approach we may not favor–so the question is, would we allow Tony’s post to be put up on the blog.

        Please take a few minutes and take a look at Tony’s link, and tell folks what you think..

      6. pilgrimstpaul Says:

        Penny, thanks very much for your comments. I’m not sure why I didn’t see your comment to be moderated (“approved”), so I apologize for the lateness of getting this post published on the blog.

        As for the question of Evangelism Committee being the only group to blog, I have already suggested that the Peace Team consider adding a discussion string to this general Pilgrimstpaul discussion area. We are going to discuss this Monday night.

        Yes, setting up guidelines for “acceptable” posts is important. I think we could come up with some general guidelines, and then monitor this for a while. As people seek to post things, we can approve them, if they are innocuous, and the “administrator” who sees all posts, and approves all posts, could bring questionable posts to the attention to someone–probably not the vestry, because I think that would be micro-managing. A technology committee, with some oversight over the content of the blog–not just technology–would be a good start.

        Thanks again for your post!

      7. Joetta Schlabach Says:

        Dear PilgrimStPaul — I just came to your website looking for details about tonight’s Nordic Worship. I noted your blog link and followed it. I was very impressed with the overall website and your blog site, and especially the open guidelines that you’ve published. We’re still developing the website at the church where I serve and your website and blog will be a reference for us. Blessings!

      Leave a Reply

      Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

      WordPress.com Logo

      You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

      Google+ photo

      You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

      Twitter picture

      You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

      Facebook photo

      You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

      Connecting to %s


      %d bloggers like this: