We are in a digital age, and our effectiveness as leaders will be measured in part by the extent that our influence reaches to the digital realm. Pastors are seeing the fruit of extending their ministry to the internet, and many choose a blog to be their vehicle for planting the seeds.
But should you start a blog? Facebook and Twitter are easy options for reaching people online, but blogs are a different animal. There’s a big difference between 140 characters and 640 words. There’s a big difference between and update and an essay or article.
If you have the blogging itch, and are thinking about giving it a scratch, here are some things to think about before you do.
1. What are you obsessed with?
It’s common for would-be bloggers to start by thinking up what other people would like to read about. But it’s the person at the keyboard whose interest you should be most invested in sustaining. It’s not uncommon for a pastor’s blog to fizzle out after just a few posts. I’ve even seen one pastor’s blog that had just one post, a year old. People like this liked the idea of having a blog, but they were not spilling over with ideas that they just had to get down in writing.
What are you interested in? What can’t you stop paying attention to? What are you obsessed with? You need to figure these things out before you start a blog.
When it comes to pastors writing a blog, there are more specific questions to ask in this regard. What aspect of being a Christian are you unable to stop thinking about? What specific thing do you think would make the church stronger? What do you have to contribute to others’ spiritual growth that you simply cannot keep inside of you?
I guarantee that if you are interested in what you are writing about, you will come across as interesting to your readers. If you are obsessed with something, you’ll never run out of things to write about. But if nothing has a vice-grip on your attention, writing a blog probably isn’t for you.
2. Where will you find time to write?
You’re busy already, and adding blogging into the mix will only make you busier. How are you going to find time to add this into your life? If you can’t commit to writing regularly, then you should focus on something besides blogging.
Are you going to write when the kids go to bed? Are you going to write early in the morning? Are you going to use time at the office to write? A little bit of all three? Have you negotiated these things with your spouse and supervisor?
I confess, finding time to write is hard for me, especially as my family grows and my responsibilities at church expand. But making time express my thoughts about pastoral ministry in writing has been more rewarding than watching TV or movies in the evening.
3. Who are you writing for?
Determining your audience is the most important decision you will make concerning your blog. There are three basic types of audiences a pastor could write for, assuming his blog is an extension of his ministry.
The most obvious audience is people in your church. In this case, your goal is to influence your church beyond your pulpit. Blogging can be an effective way to teach, train, and relate to your church in ways you can’t in your sermons. For example, if you preach expositionally, a blog is a great place to have a “topical pulpit.”
Another potential audience are Christians outside your church. This enables you to influence God’s people on a wider scale. One benefit to this option is that you can convert what you are doing for your church – sermons, Bible studies, Sunday school lessons, etc. – into blog posts.
Lastly, like Pastors Today, your audience could be other pastors. In this case, you are inviting ministry leaders to glean from what you are learning on your journey as a pastor.
Could you write for all three? Yes, you could. But the more focused your audience is, the better your blog will be.
4. Are you willing to get the word out?
Many pastors don’t want to promote their blog because they are worried about coming across as self-promotional or egotistical. But the only way people will read your blog is if you tell them when you’ve written a new post. In order to do so, you’ll need to set up your blog for RSS and email syndication, and share your posts on Facebook and Twitter.
If you are truly trying to help other people through your writing, you probably don’t have to be afraid of coming across as a self-centered blogger. On the other hand, if you are starting a blog simply to build your platform for writing books and speaking at conferences, then you should check your motives.
So should you start a blog?
Hopefully these questions have helped you think through the implications of starting a blog. It’s easy to imagine a website with a couple hundred posts with dozens of social media shares each. It’s much harder to just write a title.
Let me suggest this. Write ten 600 word posts geared around themes you’d like to blog about. If that takes you a month, you should consider starting a blog. If that takes you a year, feel free to stick to Twitter and Facebook.