For almost a decade I have blogged on a regular basis. Initially, I found this medium an exciting and developing way to share my thoughts and reflect on biblical theology, culture and current events. Over time I found that writing blogs seven days a week was so demanding that I had to reduce my blogs to five times per week. Then it became four. Finally, some weeks ago, I quit writing for a long season. I have not quit altogether. In fact, I posted two new blogs over the last two days. During this “blog vacation” I have concluded several things about my blogs:
1. Blogs can be of various kinds and styles. My writing personally ranged over a wide field of interests because I enjoy many different aspects of culture and theology. I read widely and thus I wrote very widely. I am first a Bible-reader but I am a man of many books and interests. This impacted what I wrote and how I did it.
2. Blogs can be heavily documented academic articles that serve a great long-term purpose. I did very few of these types of blogs, preferring to publish any of my material of this kind in a more permanent forms; e.g. journals, magazines, books, etc. I have chosen to do this more in the years ahead, if I am granted years. I do not presume on tomorrow at all.
3. Blogs, at least for me, became a great burden. The demand to say something useful almost every day often led me to say more than I truly needed to say. The blog space created tends to create it own set of demands which then plead with a blogger to write or perish. Stopping these blogs was emotionally painful at first. I now realize that few people really care all that much about what I have to say because it is not that important. This is fine with me. I rather enjoy researching and writing for more permanent forms of publishing so I do not miss these blogs.
I actually looked around that most of the living authors I admire the most do not blog, or at least do so very little. Bloggers do include some scholars, don’t misunderstand me. Bloggers are clearly of all types. But much of what I read from popular writers is just not that important. I think most of what I wrote was not lasting or important. It will be gone within hours of publication.
4. Even the very best bloggers amaze me at how much they have to say. If the truth is admitted most of what is posted could go unwritten and very few of us would care. I sit at my computer and sometimes wonder, “Does this person have a ‘real’ life beyond their screen?”
5. You surely can gain followers via blog posts but on the whole you cannot seize the attention of your readers in a lasting way. A longer, more sustained, kind of published writing can change lives. (This includes printed books and ebooks, both of which clearly have a place going forward.)
So I do not plan to quit blogging, at least not quite yet. I plan to use this site in the following ways:
1. To share personal updates for prayer and encouragement, thus to keep friends aware of my vision for empowering churches and leaders for unity in Christ’s mission.
2. To interact with topics in which I have the most interest; e.g. mission, ecumenism and the renewal of the church.
3. To advance a reformation of love rooted in my mission (and other missions). I believe I can do this by helping people find and interact with Your Church Is Too Small (Zondervan, 2010) and my forthcoming book, Our Love Is Too Small (which is not finished and has no publisher yet).
4. To share the work of others in creative ways. I post ideas and blogs from others but after a season of attempting to do this even this effort has slowed down to a modest trickle.
I wonder if the day of blogs being so important is slowly changing. Is the next great thing going to be “tweets?” If this is so I fear for thinking in general and Christian faith in particular. If anything of importance can be reduced to 144 characters one has to seriously wonder what the whole point of the Bible, and the Christian faith, really is all about.
I do use Twitter but I find reading tweets highly unproductive. I rarely pay attention to Twitter and see this medium as a “personality” platform in general. (There are clearly some exceptions to this comment.)
5. I like to do occasional comments and short reviews of books, as well as some films). I will likely still write these reviews as blogs.
6. I think I will post videos and interviews here as well. I believe that such short clips are far more useful in this medium. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, I ask for your prayer and support as I do the ministry of ACT3 Network with people and continue to devote my research and writing to books and articles, not to blogs.
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Blogs and My Public Life: For almost a decade I have blogged on a regular basis. Initially, I found this medium an… http://t.co/Rfejovv7zE
I appreciate you John, and how much I’ve come to know you through your writing, of all types. Do what you feel is best for you though and I’m glad that you’re not allowing the pressure of daily blogging to become too demanding of your time and energy. Blessings, brother.
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Thank you Garry Trammell. I appreciate you and hope we will be granted an opportunity to get to know one another in the years ahead. You have been a voice of encouragement and grace.
I remember that when I stasrted blogging, it was once a week….then I started writing more and more until I was writing every 2 days. I realized I was putting undo pressure on myself to keep my blog active. The more likes and comments I received, the more encouraged I was to keep writing. 4 years ago I started cutting back….after my concussions and then my book came out, I cut back even more. I am back to the once a week or less route now. I actualy don;t miss it! Good on you John for recognizing where you are in the process/
John, what you say about Twitter is so true. Its popularity says something about the lack of meaningful argument today. Everything is now black and white. Any complex or nuanced subject cannot be helpfully discussed, whether in Twitter or on CNN or Fox.
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Go with your flow. Sounds like a good plan.
There are only two blogs I read and one is yours. I write my own blog every day which is kind of my own spiritual journey and journal. Nobody reads it as far as I know and I really don’t care. My wife is shocked I would put my own spiritual thoughts out there publically but I don’t write for others, I wrote as a spiritual discipline for my own soul. As far as the more permanent mark on the lives of others, I am discovering that writing my thoughts down is both spiritually enriching and contain seeds and material for written books. So writing on a blog that most people do not read is a double blessing for me. I am finally doing what the Bible says several times and that is I am writing down what I see God showing me at the moment.
As far as the hard work of writing a blog, have you ever thought of sharing it like a team effort? I know this is what Scot McKnight does on his blog. He has several good writers contributing to his blog.
Food for thought . . .
Though I miss your daily blogs, I fully understand why you’ve made this change, John. The reasons you’ve listed are compelling.
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I have had to cut back on my blogging as well. I think people that don’t blog daily don’t know how much work it is. Step back and in a while re-evaluate again and see if you should cut back more or increase.
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Oh the temporality, the shallowness, the bane of cyberspace.
[…] that other blog writers I admire are taking a break. I recommend the Rev. John Armstrong’s “Blog and My Public Life” and Pastor Trevin Wax’s “Taking a Break and Asking for […]