by Nurya Love Parish
The invitation from the Episcopal Cafe to write for the February magazine contained these words:
“In your end of year post you talked about finally hitting your stride as a blogger. I was wondering if you might be interested in contributing a blog to the Episcopal Cafe about that. Our current theme for our magazine is “habits” and I think people would appreciate getting an understanding of the patterns of blogging and the trials and triumphs therein.”
There is a rich irony in receiving this invitation while my blog is on hiatus for a month to make way for a major project. Nevertheless, this project would not even exist without the blog. I know that blogging is part of my future as well as part of my past. So, with gratitude to the Episcopal Cafe for provoking me to think on these things, herewith is a list of seven habits for faith-filled blogging:
- First of all, remember: faith-filled blogging is not about you. Put God first.
As a Christian, I attempt daily to offer my life to God. I fail at this task with the same regularity as I begin it. However, I keep trying. As a result I have discovered so many of my failings and so much of God’s mercy that I can only commend this practice.
Blogging is part of this practice. It is for God when it attempts to speak truth, clarify confusion, and serve God’s mission of reconciliation. But blogging is a tough medium. Controversial and opinionated posts draw readers, and bloggers like readers. But writing to enlarge your audience is not the same thing as writing for God. Keep clear on your motivations. Are you writing for your own glory or for God’s glory? For a person of faith, growing readership can never be priority number one.
- Put God first, then your neighbor.
There is writing you do only for yourself. Your journal/diary is for that writing. Not your blog. Please.
Then there is writing you do for others. Your blog is for that writing. Think about what people need to know, what they would be interested to discover, how you can help make connections and offer resources that are genuinely helpful. Create something that doesn’t exist yet, that you think is needed.
Particularly, if you think you might be able to write a blog that is of service to the people of God, get started. The people of God need all the help we can get.
- Go out on limbs.
Good blogging involves risk-taking. If you are going to say the same thing everyone is already saying, and do things that have already been done, why are you taking your time with a blog?
Instead, tell the truth that you are slightly afraid to write. Compile the information that you’d like to know. Share something of your humanity with others. Recognize that your capacity to blog has offered you an unprecedented opportunity for influencing others, a chance that has existed for less than a generation. Seize this moment in history for good.
- Do your best to be steady. But don’t be idolatrous about it.
All blogging advisors will tell you that being a good blogger is all about consistency. The blogging world says, “Post at least once a week!” and sometimes “Post every day!”
But as I noted above, I have not posted on my blog for more than a month. Why? Because I have been working on a project which grew out of the blog. In order to accomplish it, I have learned all kinds of things I didn’t know. If I had also been posting regularly, my family would start to wonder if I existed. Blogging, like life, requires balance.
It is best to post regularly. But sometimes, you can’t. Don’t let the fact that you haven’t posted for a while get in the way. Just begin again. Blogging is full of do-overs.
- There are learning curves. Go up them.
I put up my first website about five years ago. I had no idea what I was doing. That was just fine. There is an Internet. Through it I have learned everything I need to know to run a decent blog. I can manage the back end of WordPress and create charts on Google. As of the last few weeks I even have a basic understanding of MailChimp. I didn’t know any of that five years ago. I read Michael Hyatt and Amy Andrews for basic blogging information. (Both have free “how to start a blog” guides on their sites.) When I have a specific task or question, Google helps me out every time.
I took a typewriter to college when I left home in 1988. As a Gen-Xer, I am no digital native. I believe I will always be slightly astonished at what is possible these days. The internet makes it possible to engage anyone, anywhere. If you avoid those learning curves, you avoid new possibilities.
- There are real people with real lives whom you can really know and serve through a blog.
The Churchwork blog has given me human connections with people I would never know otherwise. I’ve been blessed with thank-you notes and with suggestions for how to improve. (I’m sure hate mail is coming soon, but so far I haven’t gotten any. The suggestions on how to improve have only been kind.)
I’ve been sent inside information about church wide structure and process that I wouldn’t have learned any other way. (And no, I’m not telling.)
I’ve even received speaking opportunities and consulting jobs. These engagements have helped me to get to know people who care about the same things I care about. Through them I have discovered new ways to be of service. Blogging opens doors for ministry.
- Trust that God can use you and a blog for good.
There will be fits and starts. There could be times you don’t post for months. There could be times you are so frustrated with the back end of your blog that you want to quit. There will be times that people aren’t kind to you. There will be times that it feels like too much work. There might even be hate mail.
But blogging can be part of the way you live your ministry, representing Christ in the world. It is a unique opportunity to connect with others and serve them. It is a way to serve God.
And having convinced myself of the worth of blogging, it’s time for my own do-over. See you on Churchwork very soon!
The Rev. Nurya Love Parish helps Christian leaders imagine and create faithfully innovative ways to live the gospel so we can glorify God, steward God’s creation, and teach the faith to future generations. She is Associate Priest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can find her blog at www.churchwork.com