I’ve appreciated the recent online conversation, started by Tim Challies, about the benefits of keeping a blog-blog versus writing primarily for group blogs or ministry blogs. I actually agree with much of what Tim writes about the importance of maintaining personal blogs, especially the freedom they allow for cultural commentary and responding to current events (a freedom that many ministry blogs don’t allow), along with the benefits of faithful “plodding.”
I keep a blog-blog, and I served almost five years as an editor to a ministry blog (shameless plug: Unlocking the Bible), so I feel I can comment from a unique, dual perspective. When it comes to publishing online, I try to abide by the “one home, one away” guideline (the keyword being try). Here are four brief thoughts on why it’s important to keep publishing “away” on ministry blogs:
If our objective is to exalt Jesus Christ and share the good news about him with others and help them see how this good news applies to every corner of their lives, don’t we want as many eyeballs as possible to see what we’re writing?
Numbers aren’t an evil motivator. Sure, my heart’s not perfectly pure and won’t be until I’m with Jesus, but I genuinely want to point as many people as I can to him. Many writers don’t have a global blog-blog following, but many ministry blogs do, so I think it’s making the best use of the time (and using common sense) to seek out the biggest and widest platform for the soul-transforming message we proclaim.
Samuel James helpfully pointed out on his blog-blog that in order to gain a blog-blog following, a writer must be active (even vigorously so) on social media. This promotes a pressure to produce, I’m convinced.
I’m trying to get away from social media, not invest in it more.
And it seems the best and wisest way to accomplish this dual objective (more eyeballs, less social media) is to pursue publication on ministry blogs, which offer built-in platform and readers.
The social media conversation is one for another day.
Tim Challies argues this:
If you only ever submit articles for consideration at the ministry blogs, you’ll become obsessed with the quality of each article. To borrow a baseball analogy, you’ll only ever swing for the fences. So much of life, and ministry, and writing is hitting singles, and learning to be okay with hitting singles, and learning to appreciate how God so often uses those singles to incrementally advance his causes.
Totally agree. But singles are only useful if they’re theologically-sound, and I’d argue that many singles aren’t. Submitting our writing to an editorial team gives us built-in accountability and helps us guard the gospel. (A similar thing can be accomplished on a blog-blog with a skilled group of friend-editors. But do many writers have those? I’m honestly asking.)
He also writes this:
The articles you submit to these ministry sites are likely to be “safe,” which is to say they will avoid controversial matters. You’ll write about topics both you and they are comfortable with. You won’t have the opportunity to push yourself in your thinking and writing.
Again, I agree with this. But to add another angle: There have been times on this blog-blog that I’ve wanted to publish potentially controversial stuff, and my husband has stopped me. I think ministry blog guidelines and editorial help sometimes keep us from being rash and unwise!
I’m a mom. I’m working on a book. I wish I had more time to blog-blog, but I’m choosing to focus on what I feel are the most important things. Most writers don’t blog for a living, so our time is limited––which brings me back to point #1: If my resources of time and creative mental space are limited, I want to maximize my efforts by getting the message of Christ out to the most eyeballs I can.
That means favoring ministry blogs sometimes.
I so appreciate all these perspectives––they’ve helped me re-evaluate my process and consider the benefits of publishing online. That’s my two cents!