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A reader asks: I recently came across a person who had a WordPress site which included her whole resume and pdf download of OTM portfolio. What do you think about this? What are the pluses and minuses of doing such a thing? A lot of musicians and artists do this but I’ve never seen a priest do it. I am working on a website to showcase some writing samples and MP3’s of sermons and I also want to showcase that I am capable of making a website (I’m also thinking of looking for Non Profit positions outside church with web proficiency expectations.)

The Discernment Doctor replies: I encourage clergy to experiment with all the new forms of social media.  I like the idea of using WordPress, and have put my resume and OTM Portfolio on the About page of this blog.

For years I have kept the basic documents for applying for a new position in a folder on my computer, ready to send out with a few clicks of a button and a new letter of interest.  Posting the material on a WordPress blog is a logical extension.  If you are new to blogging, I’d recommend Blogging for Dummies, or Professional Blogging for Dummies as easy to follow guides.  I’d recommend linking the blog to other, more searchable social media, particularly Linkedin.

Your suggestion raises an interesting question for the national church in this age of budget cutting, decentralizing, and restructuring.  Why do we need a centralized computer system like the OTM to manage job transitions, when plenty of free tools like Linkedin and the Episcopal Digital Network’s jobs bulletin board are available?

There are a couple of minuses to be aware of.  Setting up a blog site has some minor costs, like registering your own domain name.  When posting sermons or other theological material, do not forget the experience of the former nominee for bishop of Northern Michigan.  His sermons and blog postings became fodder for a political fight over approving his election.  We can all be (and should all be) heretics on occasion in the privacy of our own pulpits, but we work in an institution that is risk averse.  Which is sad, given current trends in institutional vitality.

As for looking for non-profit positions outside the church, you raise a big discernment question I will address at length shortly.  Given the church’s current decline, and more importantly, given the lack of a clear and workable strategy to address the problem, clergy need to constantly pray whether they can be faithful to our God, their families, and themselves, while seeking to earn a living in the church.