Blogger Beware #digidisciple (@richardlittleda)

I have been blogging since 6th October 2009, and in that time I have received some 40,000 visitors from around the world. Each time a new flag appears on my visitor feed it is exciting to think that the conversation has expanded still further beyond these shores. Posts vary enormously in the amount of traffic and comment they attract. However, over my 500 or so posts, the most popular seem to fall into the following three categories.

The post mentioned above has attracted over 1000 visits, and my latest post on Pastor Mark Driscoll drew over 100 visits in its first hour. It is tempting when seeing all that to rush off and blog about the latest story in one of those three spheres, like an adrenalin junkie flinging their camera bag over their shoulder and catching a plane to the latest war. However, there some things to bear in mind first. The lessons I outline below are all learnt from my own mistakes, rather than anybody else’s.

Neither hesitate nor rush.

When 9/11 happened I was very disappointed not to see anything online from Walter Brueggemann – whom I regard as one of the finest theological writers and preachers on the planet. When I wrote to him about it, he said that making an immediate comment is not always the best thing – thereby proving the very wisdom for which I have always admired him.  If you are going to write about a current story either within or outside the Christian church, don’t wait until the story is old. Do wait, however, until you have something considered to say about it. The failure to do so can leave you with egg on u=your face when the story changes.  I believe that my post on Jeremy Clarkson was probably written too quickly after the story itself, and would have benefitted from a pause

A time to challenge and a time to soothe

Having decided that you simply must comment on a story, bear in mind that there is both a time to challenge and a time to soothe.  You may feel that your blog is the ideal place to engage critically with a particular issue.

A time for grace

Even if it is time to engage critically, bear in mind that the rules of Christian speech and action still apply. As a Christian online you are still a ‘city set on a hill’, and should behave accordingly. Every one of my Twitter followers, whether Christian or not – gets an alert when I have posted on my blog, and that is just the way I like it to be. If the thought that my local cafe or printer is going to read my post makes me write it more carefully – so much the better. The more deft you are with words, the greater your responsibility when choosing them. Not only that, but as Christians we should only want to engage with what we see as folly in order to bring wisdom, not simply to deride. I am reminded here of Proverbs 15 v. 1 ‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger’. When writing my posts on the latest Driscoll debacle I had to be sure that my anger and upset were not making me add to the negativity.

Beware digital prostitution

The above is a harsh phrase, I know, but it needs to be highlighted. If we find ourselves running off after the latest story either within or outside the church purely in the interests of visitor numbers to our site, then we have sold our integrity. Not only that, but blog visitors are not stupid and can tell pretty soon whether you actually have anything to say on the subject.

As a Pastor, I am a great believer in the sacrament of presence- making Jesus present by our physical presence at the homegroup or by the hospital bed or in the pulpit. It is the same online. By our presence there we make Christ known. This being so, authenticity is the watchword, whatever its effect on numbers.

About richardlittleda

Baptist Minister, preacher and writer. Author of Littlest Star, a crowdsourced project, and Who Needs Words, regarding church communications.