My friends John Beeson & Benjamin Vrbicek wrote the book Blogging for God’s Glory in a Clickbait World. In their research for the book, they asked several bloggers, including yours truly, to chime in on the state of Christian blogging.
- What is the most unexpected thing you’ve learned about blogging?
I’ll share a couple. One is that you can impact people in a big way even if you’re not an “expert.” I’m often just as helped by people who are just a few steps ahead of me in life as I am by the “experts” with fancy degrees.
There is a downside to the medium of the blog too: many people treat you as an expert just because you had the gusto of starting a WordPress site. Some are wise and can steward that attention for God’s glory, and some do damage to the cause of Christ.
- What is the hardest part of blogging?
I’ll share a couple of thoughts.
- Cultivating attention in an oversaturated world isn’t easy. I’m not going viral with most (or any) of what I write. Through my email list and social media accounts I have been able to build relationships with readers and grow a following of people who know what to expect from my writing. This has been key for me not giving up.
- Currently my biggest struggle is trying to juggle bigger projects (a book) with blogging. I just don’t have the time I need! That’s why prioritizing and blocking out chunks of time to work is vital.
- What do you wish you knew about blogging before you started?
Blogging is often thankless. You will click “publish” on an article you poured your heart and soul into and not get any feedback—no evidence anyone read one word of what you wrote. You have to be OK with that. We will never see much of the spiritual fruit we bear in writing.
On the flip side, we will often think our writing doesn’t make a difference, but I’ve had people tell me they’ve printed articles of mine and put them at the door of everyone in their neighborhood while evangelizing. Just today I was tagged on Twitter by a Russian brother who translated an article I had long forgotten about into Russian. So you never know what God will do!
- Why do we need Christian bloggers?
We need more people sharing how biblical truth connects to life in our ever changing world. We also want people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures writing because they can share from a unique perspective that might shed light in others’ blind spots.
- Has blogging had its day? If so, why? If not, why not?
Blogging is definitely dead!!! (Actually, it is a pet peeve of mine to see the headline formula, “Is ______ dead?” The subject in question never actually dies, it just changes. Unless you’re talking about VHS or Laserdisc players, then they’re dead alright.) Blogging isn’t dead, but it has changed due to podcasts, YouTube, and Twitter. A certain type of blogging has had its day. But there is still room for thoughtful and well-written blogging.
- What ought to be distinctive about a Christian blog?
The content (Christian) and motivation (edification).
- What is the biggest mistake Christian bloggers make?
There are so many mistakes we make it’s hard to think of the “biggest.” Perhaps it is failing to consider how to best help others with what we write.
- What area are we most in need of bloggers?
We need detailed and well-thought out application of Scripture to new and complex issues in life and culture. That goes for gender confusion, sexuality, technology, and other trending topics.
I’ll build upon that first need and say we need evangelists and apologists who tackle issues and misconceptions from a Christian worldview and can show the beauty and tenability of Christianity to a secular world.
For believers, we also need writing that helps us grow in Christ: practical help for practicing spiritual disciplines, expositions of Scripture, biblical theology, etc.
- What should the relationship of a blogger be to his or her pastor and local church?
In an ideal world, every Christian blogger would demonstrate qualities of an elder as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, preferably have their pastor read everything they write and hold them accountable, and willingly submit to the elders of the church. I realize our world is far from ideal.
- What is the best practical, technical advice you would offer about blogging?
If you have a custom site (and not just a simple blogtitle.wordpress.com site), be ready to learn, grow, get frustrated, and possibly pay for problems that will arise. I have a friend who hosts my site and fixes bugs and honestly can say I don’t know if I’d still have a blog without him. (Jon at https://www.gowebpresence.com/.) If technical aspects of a blog seem daunting, start as simple as possible and focus on great content. Then you can add skill sets (image editing, basic html formatting, etc.) along the way if you desire.
- How has blogging affected your platform for the better? For the worse?
It certainly has impacted my platform for the better, since my blog is my main platform! It’s helped me develop a lot of relationships and several people I consider real friends and ministry partners.
I’m sure blogging has impacted my platform for the worse. I’ve been an annoying over-promoter, a lazy proofreader, and an overly-harsh critic (hopefully just a time or two!). This all has probably cheapened my “brand.”
Blogging also has impacted my platform for the worse because I’ve spent a lot of time on the blog and less time on more meaningful projects for building a more impactful platform, like writing a book.
- Who shouldn’t start a blog?
People who just want attention. People who don’t have anything to say. People who can’t write. People who don’t have time. People who aren’t patient. People who quit easily.