Despite all the other web competition and especially despite the inroads of Facebook, my blog remains by far my favorite social media expression. Here are a few of my reasons.
Blogging seems so much more suitable to a writer. The very idea of Twitter is just not me. I desire to measure my words, not blurt out the first phrase that stumbles out. Plus, how do I say it in 140 characters? And if I want to banter on Facebook, I prefer it to be about something with substance like a blog article—or maybe a family picture.
A blog is something I get to format. I determine the theme, how the post looks and how the pictures go with it. I enjoy this creativity, even though it requires some continual learning of page construction.
A blog post seems more enduring than a Facebook post. The latter is quickly lost in the scrolling mass of input. A blog post remains close to the top of my blog much longer.
A blog is an enduring resource for others on the topics which the blog’s creator chooses. Blog posts can be accessed quickly by category or tag. Each blog adds to the internet’s treasure trove of info on the topics the writer chooses.
A blog post can be a source from which other social media can draw. It would not work the other way around.
Appeal to a writer
Facebook has taken over as the necessary advertiser for blog posts and the locus for blog comments.
How Facebook affects blogging
There is no doubt that the biggest change since I started blogging is the rise of Facebook. It provides strong competition to the blogosphere. The fact that I wrote the last paragraph at all is an indication of that competition. Here are some other ways I think Facebook has affected blogging.
Some less enduring posts are put on Facebook instead of the blog. This has the negative effect of lessening the amount and breadth of material on the blog but the positive effect of strengthening the quality and depth of material on the blog. The longer and more thoughtful posts tend to go on the blog. The lighter, more ephemeral stuff goes on Facebook.
Unfortunately, for most people, much family and personal history may end up being more on Facebook since this is where people tend to note happenings in their lives unless they use Twitter or Instagram instead.
Facebook has pretty much taken over as the public relations place for a blog post. If I write a post and don’t note on my Facebook page that I wrote it, very few will read it. But if I make a note about it on my Facebook page, then I get readers. So Facebook has become the necessary advertising vehicle for posts. The other day I allowed the Jetpack automatic feature to notify Facebook of my WordPress post. It did so only routinely and did not use the picture I wanted. It garnered one “like” all day. About eight hours later, I used a more related picture and wrote a short advertisement on Facebook for the same article. Within a couple hours it had 5 “likes” and a comment.
Facebook has also taken over the role that blog comments formerly played. In the last couple years, I have received nearly all my feedback on Facebook, not via blog comments. Considering all the spam issues and the maintenance required to keep blog comments open at all, I have seriously considered doing away with them. I have not done so as some readers who are professionals dealing with the public, such as teachers, police, etc. do not use Facebook.
I modify my choice of picture byte sizes according to what I think Facebook will pick up when it advertises my post. I don’t claim to understand the relationship but I know it often affects what I do.
I noticed that the total count of my posts, pages, sermons and comments on my blog has passed the 1000 mark. More than five hundred of those blog events are posts. Just over one hundred fifty are sermon manuscripts of messages prepared since coming to Copper Hill UMC. To be honest, I thought I would reach this 1 K milestone much sooner. But with a semi-retirement pastorate and two wonderful grandchildren in my life, I’m been much busier than anticipated. In addition, my personal blog now has much more competition for my computer time than it did when I began in 2010. Now I have a busy Facebook presence and a Pinterest account, plus I manage a second blog for our church, contribute to our church’s Facebook page, and help my wife with her blog-style website as well.
Posts + pages + sermons + comments > 1000
New Page Software
Renewing my blog
One goal as I reach this milestone is to renew my blog. Change is inevitable. It takes intentional change to create a fresh face and keep progressing.
Toward this end, I decided that two new categories would be helpful both to me in initiating new material and to my readers. The new category called “Country Touches” will be pure fun—interesting pictures and observations. Another New Category named “Best Five” will be a vehicle for passing on to my readers some quick lists of top five in my experience in any area that comes to mind. I hope it helps others tap sources of wisdom that I have discovered.
I’m also experimenting with new page creation software by SiteOrigin. The Country Touch post about my sister’s outside décor was the first to use that software. It looks like a hit. I’ve experimented with a program called Sway as well but it did not format well online and I think SiteOrigin will replace it.
It is a constant goal to use higher quality pictures and pictures that fit the content better. I hope there is a new phone camera in my near future to help this goal along.
Three goals for future blogging
This milestone has also made me stop and review my blogging goals. What do I intend to do with my blog going forward?
I plan to continue the emphasis upon wisdom. Learntobewise.com has become more than my blog address, it has become a mission. Wisdom is so lacking in our world today. In fact, in general I believe we do not have wisdom enough to know we are short of it. Action is valued; adrenaline is sought; acting is pursued; sports prowess is idolized, but wisdom is neglected. So I pray that by God’s grace I can make my blog a place where words of wisdom are shared, both ones I write and ones I find and forward to my readers via my blog. I pray that God gives me wisdom enough to do so (James 1:5).
I want my blog to be a place for some fun, both for me and for my readers. Look for more posts in categories like Americana, Country Touches, and on subjects like being a Grandpa, vacation accounts, daylily galleries and Christmas train set pictures. They are all blogging fun for me and I hope for my readers as well.
More public messages pages
I plan to continue building the sermon archive on my blog as a reference and resource for parishioners, other pastors and Christian workers. Crafting sermon outlines and writing messages for our congregation comes relatively easy to me and if I can provide resources to others, I would consider that a privilege. It fits with my goal about sharing wisdom and it would extend the use of my gifts and my influence as a Bible teacher and preacher. I am especially humbled to note that many readers of my blog are international. And I am aware from my missions trips that Christian workers in other places often do not have access to all the Bible education that I have had. Besides, it is wise use of time and resources to edit slightly what I already write each week as a part of my pastoral ministry to also build my blog.
I’m starting the New Year with a new blog theme (Twenty Seventeen). I really liked the old one (My Life), especially its three column format, so I kept it a while. But I’m following a principle that change is needed to keep things fresh. If we don’t plan positive change, our product becomes stale and stagnant. I have learned that staying with the comfortable keeps me in a rut and eliminates the opportunity for progress which change usually brings. I may change again if I am not satisfied with the result of my new theme. I’m hoping for a fresh look, more readable fonts, different menu locations, and increased ability to handle tables. Looks like I’m getting some new video capability thrown in. Perhaps that will challenge me to grow in a new area. The whole exercise caused me to reflect on the role of change in what I do.
Change can be confusing
I discovered again that there is a natural resistance to change. The old is familiar. Change creates work. In the case of a theme change, I have to manually reset the menu and widget structure of the blog. I need to choose pictures and backgrounds. There is always the hidden fear that the change will be for the worse. The wisdom of past experience lessens this risk immensely, but it can feel risky anyway.
Change has a logical side and a psychological side
“A good exercise when you face change is to make a list of the logical advantages and disadvantages that should result from the change, and then another list indicating the psychological impact. Just seeing this on a sheet of paper can be clarifying” (Bob Biehl in Increasing Your Leadership Confidence p. 46).
There are several up sides to my blog theme change. When I redo a theme, I learn in the process, sometimes reluctantly, but I learn. That’s a good thing. Usually the new theme has capabilities that the old one did not. A new theme presents the blog reader with a fresh look which hopefully creates new interest. For example, this one seems much cleaner in appearance. From the blogger’s standpoint, deficiencies in the old theme can be remedied. For example, this one handles tables much better. I’m excited about the opportunity for a video message provided by this theme.
Concerning creating change in an organization, here is a great resource to read; John Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You, chapter 4 “Creating Positive Change.”
I am happy to report that I have found a new plug-in called Sermon Manager to replace Sermon Browser. I am learning to use it and have now uploaded six new sermons into it, comprising together the sermon series for January and February. My immediate goal is to input sermons up to the current ones. Then I will see if I can put in some previous series for the benefit of those who use my sermons as a resource. I am glad for this and happy to be helpful to the family of God in some small way.
Unfortunately, I have not figured out a way to transfer old sermon files from Sermon Browser into the new plug-in. So the older files are stranded in cyber space for now.
Please excuse the construction in the sermon area of my blog. I have used the plug-in Sermon Browser but for the last year I have been unable to easily post in it. It has become clear that it is no longer being supported. So I am searching for a new solution. So far I have not found a good one. I will be experimenting with theme changes too.
Just a note to let everyone know that I am aware that my sermons plug-in is not operating properly. My host upgraded to PHP 5.4 and the plug-in is not ready for that. However, the good news is that a major upgrade to my sermon browser has been in the alpha stage since late fall and should be ready soon.
I’ve been saying for many years that a church’s website has now become it’s primary way to get information to prospective attenders. Here’s an article by a blogger on Christian Post agreeing with my premise.
It can help us here in Kirkville to take the next step in our already developed website. It can also serve to guide those developing plans and capabilities for new websites such as my new friends in Copper Hill CT are now doing.
In preparation for my retirement from Community Wesleyan Church in a few months, Steven Sgroi, my web technical guru, and I are working to untangle my internet presence from the church’s internet site. As a part of that process, my blog will have a new location in the future. For now, if you try to access it from the old address it will redirect you to the new one just fine, but eventually, you will want to find me at the new address site—learntobewise.com.
Living wisely is the focus
I am excited about the possibilities of this name too. Just think about the fact that one whole section of the Old Testament is devoted to wisdom. I think also about the last words of Psalm 107 which might just be good mission statement for my blog at learntobewise.com. I should be writing in such a way that my reader would want to take the Psalm writer’s advice. “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord” (Ps 107:43 NIV). I have always felt that one of the jobs of a pastor is to live wisely and help others live wisely also. So I think this new domain name will be a great fit. I also like the idea in the name that we are not wise all at once. Rather, we are always learning and becoming wiser.
I recently read the above blog article by Heath Mullikin about why pastors should be bloggers. I totally agree with him. I like his reasons but I think I would have listed different ones. Here are my four.
1.A blog makes studies, devotionals, book reviews, etc. available and accessible to people in the congregation who did not attend that particular study, to those connected more remotely with the congregation through a web of relationships either personal or electronic who may become interested in the studies, and to believers around the world, many of whom do not enjoy the resources that you do.
2.A blog helps the pastor to be real. As I occasionally share events from my own life–vacation accounts, hobbies, things that interest me–the people in the congregation see that I am not a one-dimensional “talking head.” I’m always amazed when people see me in gardening clothes, or dressed for fishing; they do not recognize me because they are so used to thinking of me in my Sunday morning role. When the congregation sees the pastor as a fellow traveler on the road to heaven, a person with human interests like their own, it is easier for them to make connection when you speak on Sunday morning.
3.A blog is a great place to take a stand on community and political issues. Often there are issues you feel compelled to speak to when they arise or come up in the news. Or perhaps there is something you want to talk about but don’t necessarily want to dedicate a whole worship service or message to it. A blog provides the perfect forum. It is also a great place to take part in the cyberspace dialogues about issues of our day. It is a way to be part of what is happening in the world rather than isolated within the four walls of your church and the confines of its cliques.
4.Reading a blog is a great way for people who are looking for a church to get to know the pastor before they actually meet him. By reading what you write, they can learn a lot about how you treat Scripture, how you treat those with whom you disagree, what you tend to focus on, the passions of your heart, your family life, and your vision for the church. There is no doubt that people today check out churches on the web before they ever darken the door. They choose churches to visit by perusing their webpages. The pastor’s blog may be your best online advertisement.
So now you have at least eight reasons. Have you started blogging yet?