Blogging as Home Teaching

February 23, 2005 | 27 comments
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We don’t read the monthly Ensign message with you. We don’t start and end with prayer, and we’re unlikely to be much help if you need the sideboard moved into the dining room. But we talk together about church topics; we (sometimes!) check up on each other to see how others are doing; we make friends and provide support.

We’re not called by the Elder’s Quorum president or given a formal route. But we’re likely to talk with each other a lot more than a regular home teacher ever does. And if the essence of home teaching is regular contact, then the bloggernacle looks awfully like a home teaching network — and maybe, in many cases, a better network than that provided by traditional home teaching.

As their co-blogger, I feel that I know Nate and Kristine, Jim and Russell, and the rest of my colleagues, far better than I know my home teachers or my own home teaching families. I feel the same about a number of guest bloggers and regular commenters — Danithew, Bryce, Clark, Steve, and so forth. I’m sometimes privy to someone’s particular problems or needs, and if I can, I try to help out.

Other members connect through the bloggernacle, opening up their own discussions on issues and forming their own communities. (Some have themselves likened this community building to home teaching).

All of this the bloggernacle does, often in a less effective way than traditional visits would. Contact may be spotty; messages may go unanswered; plus, we can’t perform ordinances together such as administering to the sick. The called nature of home teaching is also absent, and instead bloggernackers typically seek out like-minded people with whom to build their communities. All this is true. And yet.

And yet, we get 2,000 visitors per day. We get a lot of people visiting, and they’re visiting every day. That’s astonishing. I don’t talk to my home teachers every day. (Or every month, for that matter :P ). I don’t talk to anyone from church every day — except in the bloggernacle. And it seems to me that, with its regularity and accessibility, the bloggernacle can become a means of home teaching, of connecting with others and offering our assistance for their needs.

Some scriptures are often used to describe home teaching. For example, Moroni 6:4 reads:

And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

Do we do that, here in the bloggernacle? Do we mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort?

Not nearly often enough, I’m sure. But we do it some. And compared with the typical 20% home teaching rate — and remembering the phenomenal number of visits we do get around here, and their regularity (some readers are almost certainly here twenty or thirty times every month) — we may well be the best (or even the only!) home teaching that many readers receive.

So, let me ask you, readers: Is there anything your home teachers can do for you?

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27 Responses to Blogging as Home Teaching

  1. Steve Evans on February 23, 2005 at 6:34 pm

    Kaimi, I proclaim this your best post in a long while. Good job, on a topic that I’ve been pondering a lot lately.

    It is clear to me that our blogs are about community first and foremost, and ideas second. That is what distinguishes a blog from a listserv or other restricted forum; we seek to understand each other, and we end up genuinely looking after each other (at least, at BCC we do).

    Others will differ as to the purpose of a blog, and I can easily see competing priorities. But I blog because of the interpersonal connectedness above all else.

  2. john fowles on February 23, 2005 at 6:52 pm

    Kaimi, I tried this approach with reference to how spending time in the Bloggernacle helped me to focus on Christ and his Gospel for a large portion of the day, whereas before getting involved, that percentage was much lower. My wife didn’t buy it, but Clark thought I might be onto something.

  3. Nate Oman on February 23, 2005 at 6:56 pm

    2,000 visits. Not 2,000 visitors.

  4. Steve Evans on February 23, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    2,000 unique visitors is still about three times more than any other blog (except BCC, of course, with our millions of fans).

  5. Kaimi on February 23, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks, Steve.

    John, I’ve felt the same — I wasn’t thinking nearly as much about church topics, during the week, prior to my involvement in the bloggernacle.

  6. J. Stapley on February 23, 2005 at 8:33 pm

    I concur. Perhaps saddly, I just got a new calling and I have spent the bulk of my time trying to figure out how to reproduce some of the the bloggernaccles dynamism in the ward…still thinking.

  7. Bryce I on February 23, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    I like the full service nature of T&S — I get access to visiting teachers and home teachers from the High Priests group in addition to my regular home teachers.

  8. danithew on February 23, 2005 at 8:42 pm

    Lots of inactive spouses in this ward … :)

  9. Kristine on February 23, 2005 at 8:50 pm

    Well, all I can say is that I’m glad my real-life home teacher doesn’t believe in a free market for kidneys!

  10. A. Greenwood on February 23, 2005 at 9:11 pm

    Kaimi,
    anything I can do for you? No? All right, let’s have a prayer.

  11. danithew on February 23, 2005 at 9:13 pm

    I won’t be leaving any more comments on this thread until 11:00pm on Feb. 28th.

  12. Jack on February 23, 2005 at 9:26 pm

    I agree that there are some similarities to home teaching, but the ways in which this kind of interaction are dissimilar might really be quite unchristian if compared too closely to home teaching. First of all, I don’t think this kind of forum is really calculated to embrace the “least saint” (intellectually, that is). I doubt that your average blue collar type will find enough in common with the types that frequent this forum to benefit much from most of the discussions. However, with home/visiting teaching there seems to be a power in the stewardship that enables us to bend toward one another a little further than we might otherwise. Also, I think there’s an aesthetic distance between people on the blog lines that creates a buffer which is abused all too often. (I’ve behaved quite rudely around here at times–a thing I would never do while visiting one of my HT families)

    That said, perhaps the ‘positive’ in making the comparison with home teaching, is that it may help in identifying how our interactions may be improved toward one another on line.

  13. Jack on February 23, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    Danithew,

    Make it two short visits/comments–one at 11:59 PM Feb. 28 and the other at 12:01 AM March 1.

    Then you can skidoo for two whole months!

  14. Charles on February 23, 2005 at 9:40 pm

    If home teaching were only measured in numbers alone the bloggernacle would be a huge success, but alas, I don’t believe it can touch Home Teaching when HT is done properly. Its not just about talking and comments its about something fufilling in the lives of the families you work with. T&S has some really great posts, specifically sunday school lessons and many though provoking subjects.

    I just think the level of controversy in some subjects would be detrimental to some HT families. Perhaps if some people put as much energy into Home Teaching as they do blogging. Naturally, I’m talking about myself. I have several families I should be helping but here I sit.

  15. Ann on February 23, 2005 at 10:50 pm

    On Usenet is a group for moderated discussion, soc.religion.mormon. I used to be a moderator there. A regular poster there, Craig Olson, is one of the best home teachers I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some excellent home teachers. Craig has never helped me install a window air conditioner, or organized a crew to paint my little wood shingle house, or given me a blessing when I was in so much pain from life with the drunk (now ex-)husband, but he has helped me to continue to believe, if not in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at least in the Mormons who belong to it.

    So huzzah for internet Home Teaching, and thanks to all of you who do a little bit every once in a while to help me believe a little.

  16. Geoff Johnston on February 23, 2005 at 10:56 pm

    Moro 6:4 Do we do that, here in the bloggernacle?

    I think we’re only really good at one part of that in the bloggernacle — nourishing with the good word of God. But if we can do that it is reason enough to keep blogging. That’s why I started my blog — to try to keep myself and others nourished. To keep myself (and with any luck others too) “continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of (our) faith.”

  17. Sheri Lynn on February 24, 2005 at 1:44 am

    If I don’t post for a week or two, there is someone on this blog who will notice and follow up with me to see if I’m okay. Have to admit we’ve been blessed in a decade of Church membership with ONE home teacher who would notice and follow up after a month. That’s better than most people get I bet.

    And this one home teacher stayed our friend and stayed in touch even when we stopped attending his ward and had our records moved elsewhere. I keep wanting to ask him if he’d like to come investigate the Mormon Church some Sunday with us. He’d get what I mean by that, too.

  18. D. Fletcher on February 24, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    My little board gets 450 hits a day, pretty remarkable considering only 8 people regularly post anything there.

  19. annegb on February 24, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    I want you guys to meet me at the door when I come to church in New York in April. I’ll be looking for you. :) I’ll try to rein in my Kramer personna.

  20. Heather P. on February 24, 2005 at 6:27 pm

    Hey annegb, have you seen this?

    And yeah, as to the topic at hand, I think there is definitely a kind of fellowship in the bloggernacle. I started reading (and occasionally commenting) here (and around) shortly after I started going to a new ward, and I definitely feel like I “know” (e-know?) some of you better than the people in my ward. Plus the gospel doctrine lessons are better here :) And since I don’t have home teachers or visiting teachers yet (or visiting teachees either), you all can consider yourselves my home & visiting teachers.

  21. Steve Evans on February 24, 2005 at 6:29 pm

    Heather, we love you! Welcome to the Blog 1st Ward.

    You’ll notice, btw, that I seconded Amira’s vote for you :)

  22. annegb on February 24, 2005 at 10:39 pm

    No, I hadn’t seen that–I didn’t know a thing about it. It looks pretty interesting.

    thanks, Heather!

  23. Sheri Lynn on February 24, 2005 at 10:54 pm

    Where’d this topic go? Nobody posting? You Nyawkers are so lucky annegb is headed there. She’s a treasure. You should try to keep her.

  24. annegb on February 24, 2005 at 11:19 pm

    Sheri Lynn, you would hate me if you came to my house, I would be laying around watching Survivor that I’d taped last night (well, I’m taping that tonight, last night I taped Lost), eating potato chips and cussing a blue streak. Treasure I am not. :)

    But, guys, that is a cool blog, they are talking about books I’ve read and women stuff that I’m interested in and lots of cool links. It feels really good, like an old shoe.

    Not to make you guys feel bad, I mean guy guys, but you lose me so much, with talk about apologetics and big words and all that law stuff, but you’ve stretched me as well. Good for Alzheimer’s patients to stretch.

  25. Sheri Lynn on February 24, 2005 at 11:28 pm

    Well, I’m with you on the potato chips. Alas. :-D

    TV I don’t watch…cussing I try not to do…but whenever I pick up that first stone it burns my fingers. Anyway I like you. Pass me the chips and we’ll talk during commercials.

  26. Heather P. on February 25, 2005 at 2:06 am

    Aw, thanks, Steve. I Heart the Blog 1st Ward.
    mmm . . .potato chips . . . yum

  27. Bryce I on February 25, 2005 at 8:10 am

    All–

    Geoff Johnston’s family could use your prayers right now. His three year old son has had a serious swimming pool accident. Details here:

    http://gfj-thang.blogspot.com/2005/02/please-pray-for-my-boy.html

WELCOME

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