Tim Challies has been doing an excellent job (as always) blogging about…blogging (here, here, and here). He’s noticed the decline in the number of individual bloggers actively blogging and is seeking to motivate Christians to blog again.
Mom and Pop Blogs
In interactions with Tim, I’ve noted that it seems like the large group/ministry blogs have in some ways taken over the smaller individual blogs. I’ve compared it to “Mom and Pop stores” being put out of business by national chain stores. Both Tim and I respect and appreciate the large ministry blogs. But we also both want to encourage the “Mom and Pop Individual Christian Blogger.”
My Historical Take on Blogging
I love history and have written three books on the history of soul care (here, here, and here). But, I’m not a historian of the modern art of blogging. However, here’s my personal recollection of the modern advent of blogging…
The P-Log or Plog or Plogging
I’m old enough to remember the start of the personal computer age. I’m also old enough to remember when Al Gore invented the Internet. And I’m also old enough to remember when many of the early bloggers were doing Personal Logs—what I am calling P-Log or Plogging.
It went like this. Someone liked writing. They were an early adopter of this new thing called the Internet. And they started posting “daily or weekly diaries” about their life, their family, their vacation, their work, their ministry, their musings. Many of those early Personal Logs (blogs/plogs) were akin to someone’s annual Christmas letter updating their family and friends about their life.
I wonder if this personal nature of blogging is part of what we need to return to? No, not necessarily a weekly family update. But rather the idea of writing what you know and writing for a specific/targeted audience.
When we write for the masses (submitting our posts to the large mega-blogs), we can lose something of that personal feel.
I wonder if what many of us need to do is Nlog—niche blogging. Again, this involves writing what we know and writing for a specific/targeted audience.
Many of the marketing gurus talk about staying laser-focused. In a world of international franchises, the average “mom and pop store” or “mom and pop blogger” can’t compete if they try to be all things to all people. Wal-Mart does that quite well. So, be blessedly small and focused.
It’s similar with us individual bloggers. Stay blessedly focused. Find your niche. Write what we know. Write for a specific, targeted audience. For me when I write my RPM Ministries Truth and Love blog, that leads to 5 overlapping areas of blogging:
- Biblical Counseling/Christian Living: It means writing a lot about biblical counseling and to folks interested in and invested in biblical counseling.
- History of Soul Care: It means writing a decent amount about church history and to folks who love seeing how we can learn from that great cloud of witnesses.
- Multiethnic/Cross-Cultural: And it means writing a good deal about multiethnic ministry and cross-cultural relationships—a passion and area of experience the Lord has given me.
- Church Ministry: Having pastored three churches of three very different sizes in three very different cultural settings in three very different roles (Sr. Pastor, Associate Pastor, Counseling/Equipping Pastor)—I blog about church life and pastoral ministry.
- Collaborative Connecting: I love to write posts that connect biblical counselors to other biblical counselors, and posts that link to resources from others. I think of this as “My Macy’s Santa Claus Blogging.” In The Miracle on 34th Street, you’ll recall how the Santa at Macy’s sent customers to other stores if that’s where they could find the best product at the best price. I love doing this in my blog—pointing my readers to other bloggers, resources, and best practice sources.
Now, for some folks, five niches may be four too many! I’ve been around awhile, and these are five areas I know at least a little about and enjoy writing about.
But for others, maybe it means finding that one niche area and writing about it from various viewpoints.
Mega-Blogging or Shepherd-Blogging?
Maybe another analogy is moving from pastoring a church of 100 where you know and shepherd a specific flock to being a mega-church pastor where you write sermons not only for the 4,000 in attendance but also for all those folks who listen to your podcast. Nothing wrong with that—but the feel can be less personal and more professional and polished.
What if we saw our “Mom and Pop Individual Blogs” as “Shepherd Blogs”? We write personally to a flock of readers we know or at least can envision and resonate with?
We write with a heart not to be well-known and famous, but to minister richly to people’s whose lives we know well.
We see ourselves as part of a “para-church ministry” that helps shepherd sheep. We certainly do not take over the role of the local church shepherd. But we come alongside to help shepherd people using the modern resource of the Internet, the blog, the Nlog, the Shepherd Blog.
This article first appeared at Bob’s website and is posted here with his permission.
Bob is the Vice President for Institutional Development and Chair of the Biblical Counseling Department at Crossroads Bible College, and the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. For seventeen years he served as the founding Chairman of and Professor in the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. Bob was also the founding Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, where he served for six years. Bob has pastored three churches and equipped biblical counselors in each church. Bob and his wife, Shirley, have been married for thirty-five years; they have two adult children, Josh and Marie, one daughter-in-law, Andi, and two granddaughters, Naomi and Penelope. Dr. Kellemen is the author of thirteen books including Gospel-Centered Counseling and Gospel Conversations.