Cory Miller of ChurchCommunicationsPro.com contacted me a while back and asked if I’d answer some questions for his series, “Blogging for Pastors 101.” My response didn’t make publication there, although I admittedly see that I repeated a lot of what was already said by others, so I guess it makes sense. Either way, here’s my input on the subject:
1. Why (or how) did you start blogging?
My attraction to blogging started when I began reading the blogs of students in my youth group. It was such a great way of communicating thoughts, ideas, joys and struggles that I really wanted to get in on the phenomenon, but I thought, “I don’t know what I’d write about” and “I can’t be genuine and real online like kids can because I’m a pastor.” So, I put off the idea for several months until one night I just decided to take the plunge and go for it. Since then I’ve found that both of my excuses were completely false.
2. What subject do you post most about?
I write about whatever is meaningful to me. That mostly includes my passion for youth ministry, but it also includes stories of how God is working in my life, struggles I’m going through, questions about how we “do church,” and whatever else comes to mind.
3. What are your favorite blog tools? (from platforms, to feedreaders to stats, etc.)
- PLATFORM: My blog is powered by WordPress because it is simply the best platform out there. It’s very user-friendly, excellent community support, very flexible and will do almost anything I want it to do. WordPress does a great job of creating a powerful and extensive program that’s simple enough for even a beginner to feel at home. (Oh, and it’s FREE!)
- RSS READER: I use Newsgator to manage RSS subscriptions for a couple reasons. First, it’s web-based, which allows me to easily read updated blogs from any computer, whether at home, at church or in a library. Second, the layout feels the most professional and visually appealing to me when compared with other aggregators. (This is free, too!)
- RSS MANAGER: It’s hard to beat Feedburner when it comes to managing your blog’s RSS feed. It automatically configures your feed to be compliant with many newsreaders, counts the number of subscribers to your blog, provides tools for e-mail subscriptions, and a whole lot more. (Again, free!)
- TECHNORATI.COM: The great thing about www.technorati.com is that it indexes new blog posts all over the Internet almost as immediately as the entry is published. This makes it the perfect tool for reading what others are saying about various subjects and issues almost in real-time. For example, I watch all search queries and tags (i.e. categories) relating to “youth ministry” that come through technorati.com. This really harnesses the true beauty of blogs: easily sharing ideas and thoughts on a topic almost as quickly as they can be published online. (Just like everything else so far, this too is free!)
- STATISTICS: Although Mint costs a one-time fee of $30, it’s worth every penny. A plug-in for WordPress integrates every page and blog entry on your site with this incredible site statistics monitor to give helpful feedback on almost anything visitor-related that you can think of. There’s an incredible community support for this product that writes free peppers (i.e. “plug-ins”) for Mint so it will track and record pretty much anything that has to do with visitors and your site.
4. How often do you post?
There’s no real pattern to my blogging frequency. Whenever something comes up that’s significant to me or my thought process on an issue, I blog it. That currently happens to be about once every day or two.
5. What one piece of advice would you give for prospective blogging pastors?
Perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve seen of new blogging pastors is to be self-conscious and only write articles they deem to be authoritative on an issue, as if they’re writing for a magazine or academic periodical. Although blogs like this have their place, I want to know the author through their writing.
Be transparent and don’t be afraid to blog about failures and hard questions in life and ministry. I’ve found that vulnerability earns much more respect than pretending to have solutions and answers for everything. Write about yourself and your passion as a way of articulating thoughts and feelings, not as a way of generating site traffic or popularity. Keep it real and honest.
Posted on November 15, 2006