The blogger interviews: Ryan Couch
Explain briefly, please, who you are and what you do.
My name is Ryan Couch. I have been a pastor and church planter for about 12 years. My background is with Calvary Chapel. I planted Calvary Chapel of Crook County in Prineville, Oregon and pastored that church for seven years. For the last year I’ve been planting Missio Dei in Fort Collins, Colorado. This new church plant is in fellowship with the Acts 29 Network.
What got you into the ministry?
When Jesus saved me as a 15-year-old freshman in high school, I knew almost instantly that I wanted to pastor. My youth pastor had made a tremendous impact upon my life and I really wanted to make that kind of difference in other people’s lives. I began teaching a Bible study for high school students as a junior, and through that really gained a love for teaching and preaching and knew that I wanted to spend my life in that pursuit. I attended Calvary Chapel Bible College right out of high school and it was there that I really took an interest in church planting.
And, what got you into blogging?
I started reading the Phoenix Preacher… (I) simply read it for a while and then someone said something about a pastor friend that I knew wasn’t true so I made a comment in his defense; (I) was instantly hooked 🙂
What does blogging do for you?
Blogging has really allowed me to see a broader spectrum of Christianity. It opened my eyes to a whole perspective that I had never been introduced to. It has given me an appreciation for the whole body of Christ. It has made me a better pastor because the stories of spiritual abuse have opened my eyes to my own weaknesses and communicating with such a diverse group of people has enabled me to relate with a more divergent cross-section of Christianity.
Why blogging, as opposed to one of the older methods of getting your views out to a mass audience like radio, television, magazines and books?
Well, honestly, no one has been knocking down my door to do radio interviews, TV shows, or write books. Blogging allows nobodies like me to have a voice. Some would say that’s the problem with it…I say it’s the great equalizer. This doesn’t preclude bloggers from being accountable to God for what they write. It simply allows guys like me who pastor small churches to write their thoughts. If no one reads it then you aren’t out any money, and if a bunch of people read it then you don’t make any money. That’s fair.
How has blogging been beneficial to you and your calling/ministry?
I love to write so it’s given me a medium to do so. As I said earlier it has really challenged me as a pastor because as I’ve been introduced to new theology, different ecclesiology and a cross-section of Christianity that sadly I didn’t even know existed. I can honestly say that my involvement with Acts 29 is a direct result of my time spent blogging.
What have been some of the drawbacks?
Blogging has unfortunately at times alienated me from my actual friends. It has given me plenty of new friends, but I probably won’t even meet many of these people, so it’s kind of tough to write things that rally e-friends and repel those that you actually interact with personally.
What are your impressions of how the church at large has engaged the internet over the past decade?
I think it’s incredible! The internet is a great medium to get the gospel out. I mean can you imagine what Paul would have done with the internet. Can’t you just see Spurgeon preaching from an iPad? (ok well maybe that’s a stretch) but certainly it would be foolish for us to not use these technological advances for the sake of God’s Kingdom; that mankind even has the wisdom to create these things is a proof of Imago Dei and common grace. However as with any good thing it can become an idol, and certainly the internet is no exception, if isn’t porn then it’s some married dude hooking up with an old high school flame on facebook. We do need to be careful, have accountability, and put safeguards in place for our protection and the protection of our families. But the potential for evil does not make something evil (ie food, sex, and alcohol).
What do you make of the internet’s ability to give any number of voices a venue for expression, and a mass audience to hear those voices…no matter how solid or crazy they might be?
It’s a double edged sword for sure. On one hand venues like blogs and twitter have allowed really gifted pastors, who may not have had much of a voice, to communicate their thoughts with the church at large. However on the other hand it allows whack jobs and heretics to perpetuate their idiocy to a larger audience as well. But the Holy Spirit has been doing a pretty good job protecting His Church for the last few millennia so I think she’s in good hands 🙂
Is the internet a good venue for community and fellowship or not?
The internet certainly can be a great venue for community especially for those that are coming out of abusive spiritual situations. As people who are created in God’s image we are wired for community, we desperately need the presence of a Jesus centered loving community and if that can be accomplished online for a time then I think that is awesome. However I don’t think it can be a permanent solution because we need community with real live physical humans that are going to challenge and stretch us in ways that cannot be done through a computer where you can just turn it off if you get pissed off at someone.
How do you see the church continuing to develop on the web over the next 10-15 years?
I see more churches offering their services live on the web for those that are unwilling or cannot attend the actual gathering. Large churches will continue to open up web campuses with online pastors and will become more and more creative with how these services are conducted to make them more interactive and effective for reaching people who will not darken the door of a church. With this continued trend seminaries will begin to offer courses and tracks for online pastors whose primary duties
Will blogging continue to be a legitimate forum or will it give way to Twitter- and Facebook status-type updates?
I think blogging is already giving way to micro-blogging (Twitter and Facebook). It’s much easier and less time consuming for me to put up a 140 word thought or quote than it is to sit down and write an article for my blog. That being said Twitter and Facebook have their limitations and traditional blogging (crazy how blogging can now be described as traditional) will continue to have a place because of these obvious limitations.