Hello readers! Pastor Kevin here.
Recently, I wrote an article about a topic that was pretty controversial. The intent of this post was to offer help to our church and the small network of churches we're connected to. The post went viral, and attracted a much broader audience than intended. This is wonderful as many have commented that my thoughts were helpful to them.
Not everyone, however, has been playing nice. As a result of the overwhelming response, I thought it'd be helpful to enact a comment policy and explain to some who have been asking why their posts aren't being approved. I'm thankful for all of the discussion we have on here, but it's important to honour Christ in our comments, whether spoken or typed.
Policies like this may sound harsh sometimes. Especially coming from a church our size. Ironically, it's not for most commenters. Most of you are wonderful. However, there a few people who clearly need such guidelines.
Overall, I'm thankful for many of the conversations that take place in the comments. And I hope some of you return in the future as new issues arise. I love discussion and conversation, but I'm a pastor and this is our church's online space. It is my role to shepherd this space as well.
The following has been adapted from Ed Stetzer's "The Exchange" blog guidelines.
In order to facilitate good conversation, please keep the following in mind:
1. Please do not post anonymous comments.
There are few exceptions to this rule (such as being a missionary in a restricted access country) and you must state "why" in your comment. Occasionally, a particularly helpful comment may slip through. Please use your real name. If you're concerned about online security and privacy, a first name and initial will also suffice.
2. Be sure to stay on topic.
If the topic of the discussion is the mission of God, it is not helpful to start a new conversation on gender roles, Calvinism, or something else. Please try to keep comments on topic with the post you’re commenting on. We don’t need eschatology debates breaking out on posts about church planting.
3. You can share opinions, disagree and even argue, but you must be polite.
The point of a blog is to have discussion. If I wanted to post my opinions and have you just read them, I would not have a blog. I truly welcome the discussion, but be polite and on point.
Also, do not use the church's blog for your agenda. If you can add to the discussion, please do, but if you're not interested in discussion and reasoning together, go post your own blog.
4. While you can graciously take apart someone's perspective, you may not tear apart an individual.
We do not allow ad hominem attacks here. We do allow robust discussion and critical thought, even if I am the target. Good discussion does not require angry criticism. If you think someone’s wrong, don’t shame, just share your thoughts kindly.
5. Be consise.
Don't drone on and on for paragraph after paragraph. Make your point clearly and concisely. If your "comment" is longer than the original post, it likely won't be approved.
While we're on that topic...
6. Comments are moderated.
This is not primarily an opinion blog. It's a church website. As this church's pastor it is my primary responsibility to make sure the words that appear here don't inhibit our ability to do ministry in our area. If your words might be damaging God's witness in the area through our church, or if I haven't yet had a chance to read them, they won't appear on the site.
7. Don't be a troll.
Trolls come in many forms, but Wikipedia explains:
In internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
Troll comments don't get approval. Additionally, even if you are posting Bible verses out of their context, over and over you may still be a troll.
8. Please don't post links.
This is more a web-security practice. If I don't know where a link leads, I won't approve it. Even legitimate looking links can be malicious.
9. Feel free to make your point, once.
If people engage with your point, disagree with it, or discuss it, you can engage in that. But, do not make the same point over and over on that post or other posts. Do not post the same comment over and over. Write a comment that makes your point related to the topic of the blog post.
10. Please don't make drive-by comments.
There is a tendency among some who leave comments that they simply cannot discuss without offering an over-simplified "solution" saying things like: “they should just preach the gospel.” If you don't think that culture, mission, and strategy should be considered, and your answer is to tell everyone (using ALL CAPS) that they should just “preach the gospel,” this is probably not the blog for you.
You may not just post a link to some other page. You may not say, “I responded here” and just post a link. (See above.) Make your point in the comments here.
A Place for Conversation
We want this to be a place for good conversation. Keep in mind that this is a place for fruitful dialogue, not angry rants, and the like.
If we find your post does not meet our policy standards, it won't be approved. We won't debate that with you. We won't explain it to you. It just won't show up. If you check in and notice newer comments, consider editing your comments to be in line with the above guidelines and re-submitting them.
If your comment is not approved, it is because we thought it did not meet the comment policies. If your comment does not make it on the blog, feel free to post it on your own blog. But, for this blog, those are the rules.
There is no appeal process. Abusive blog commenters have all the time in the world to debate—we don’t.
This blog is a limited public forum for discussion and, as host, it is our job to help make it a positive conversation. We will try to make that conversation better by being better hosts.
Thanks for coming by and commenting!