What would Jesus Blog – Don’t ask me.

DigitalNun today asks the purpose of Christians taking to social media and (unusually for her) has a rather negative take:

The question no one seems to be asking is, to what purpose? Our stated purpose, that we want to proclaim Christ online, is not always the real driver. Sometimes when I look at Twitter I am made uneasy by the number of Christian pastors and teachers who use it as a form of self-advertisement and wonder whether it is becoming also a form of self-advancement. Facebook and Pinterest tend to be light-hearted by their very nature, but just occasionally I look at a day’s religious offerings and the word ‘drivel’ comes to mind. When everyone has a voice, it can be difficult to hear what is worth listening to.

In truth I don’t blog to ‘proclaim Christ online’; in fact, I don’t have any particular mission or drive except for the fact I rather enjoy blogging and Tweeting and happen to be a Christian. I just simply try to be myself and blog stuff that interests me. Inevitably, as a Christian at my core, spiritual and religious issues are part of my focus.

That might sound weird as the blog is entitled “eChurch”, but in all truth, I rather regret that name. I didn’t think it through when I originally searched for a blog name, but I hope it’s pretty obvious I don’t actually talk on behalf of the church, or Jesus, or Christians, or anybody, just myself.

Obviously as a blogger I hope that folk will read my posts and find them interesting and engaging; however, rather like Archdruid Eileen I have stripped out the more sophisticated analytics software and agree that:

…..if we mounted up all our hits at the end of our lives, what could we do with them? We couldn’t trade them in like Nectar points for days off in Purgatory. Or, at least, if you can the Pope’s keeping very quiet about it.

Archdruid Eileen’s post was in response to Anita’s post “25 Ways to Rapidly Develop Your Blog“. As it happens Anita is a lovely spiritual blogger and I would say is successful simply because of that fact.

Today Deacon Greg Kandra wrote on the The “10 Commandments” of blogging and although it’s great advise, I don’t personally adhere to most of them. I did like ‘commandment’ ten:

X. Finally, you can take this to the bank: always remember that we are all sinners.  We are broken.  Every one of us bears some frailty, some weakness, some wound.  That affects what we write, how we think, and very often, how we treat others.  Sometimes, the crank on the other side of the screen just got up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.  Other times, he’s had a fight with his wife or a feud with his pastor or just got some news from the lab that he really didn’t want to hear. A lot of us have Issues that cloud our thinking and muddle our mindsets.

Deacon Greg’s blog is hosted on the tremendously successful multi-blogger Patheos platform, which sustains itself through advertising and such like. Although I have absolutely no issue with sponsored advertising on religious blogs, I’m with Gillan Scott:

My stance has always been that I have never wanted to have ads on my blog.  I have no interest in making any money from this site as in order to do my best to maintain my independence and integrity I don’t want to have readers wondering if I associate myself with or endorse products or services that could be advertised on this site if I went down that route and I certainly don’t want to be showing ads I have no control over.

I also have no issue with ‘tip-jars’ and the like, but it’s not for me. The most I’ve ever asked is that perhaps someone might consider purchasing me a book from my Amazon wishlist and thus far, nobody has. Fair enough. Stingy lot.

In the past I have certainly been driven by blog visit numbers and comment quantity, but no more. In the end I was simply looking for stats and betrayed myself as a result on more than one occasion.

At the end of the day topics that are at my heart such as the interplay between church and mental illness are never going to be big hitters.

I also blog my failures and weaknesses and try not project a ‘perfect Christian’ image and in this regard I related to Jon Acuff’s post:

Sometimes I fail.

And when I do, I say these four words:

This too shall post.

It used to be “This too shall pass,” but then I learned something about sharing your failures with people.

Jon goes on to say that blogging failures is helpful as folk can relate to them and perhaps even learn from them.

I think he’s right.

Sometimes it’s a relief to hear of other folks struggles and failures as you know you’re not alone.

The other day I was tempted to write a post simply detailing the ongoing failures in my spiritual walk; perhaps I will still do so, but it would be lengthy indeed if I charted them all.

I bet I’m not alone.

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7 Responses to “What would Jesus Blog – Don’t ask me.”

  1. Gillan Says:

    Thank for this Stuart. I’m with you on this.

    Blogging is a worthwhile exercise for Christians or pretty much anybody for that matter. All of us who blog do need to ask ourselves why we do it and what we are trying to achieve. If we’re doing it under the reason of serving God in some way, then we mustn’t lose sight of that. If our reputation and exposure becomes more important than honouring God then in fact we’re not honouring him at all. We shouldn’t be using God to make us look better. It should be the other way round.

    Fortunately there are many decent Christian bloggers who are getting things right. We’re all going to make mistakes and put stuff out that in hindsight we should probably have done differently or not at all. If we’ve got the humility to accept correction and advice then usually I’m finding that people are forgiving.

    I suppose at the end of the day it comes down to this question: “Am I drawing people towards God or away from Him?” If we can answer this honestly then we’ll know if we’re getting things right or not.

  2. Digitalnun Says:

    I don’t think our views are mutually exclusive. Christian engagement online can be divided into three main groups. First, individuals like yourself, who are free to blog/interact about anything that interests them. Their Christian faith informs what they do (usually) but their purpose in being online is not defined by or limited to their faith. Then there are people like me — clergy, religious, etc — whose interaction must always have some reference to their faith and may have limitations imposed by membership of a particular Church or community. For example, I’m online because it is part of our Benedictine charism of hospitality and it has both pluses and minuses. The restraints are not always obvious to others, thank goodness. As a Catholic I’m not free to discuss the ordination of women; as a Benedictine, there are subjects I would hesitate to discuss because there isn’t community agreement on them and I’m aware that, even when I speak in a personal capacity, my words reflect on the community as a whole. Finally, there are those online because it’s their job: they hold some post or other that requires them to engage in blogging, social media, etc. They are probably the least free of all. It’s members of the second and third groups who can be seduced into using their online opportunity for personal self-aggrandizement or whatever you want to call it.

  3. Jane Chelliah Says:

    The Christian blogging world is a bit of a mystery to me despite being a blogger for two years. I try and stick to a Christian message but sometimes I don’t quite pull it off because I am not a theologian. Other times I try and give a lay person’s view of Christianity. My stats never live up to my predictions and the most looked at blog post is one that I wrote about a year ago. The fraternity of the Christian bloggers is one that I do enjoy though.

  4. Tim Says:

    Don’t run yourself down so much. Some of you popular bloggers give a voice to the common man, a voice that would otherwise be unheard. An example is Cranmer’s latest offering Arrested at 9.30am, tried in secret court, imprisoned by 6.30pm

  5. Tim Says:

    “The most I’ve ever asked is that perhaps someone might consider purchasing me a book from my Amazon wishlist and thus far, nobody has. Fair enough. Stingy lot.”

    You really know how to hurt people don’t you? I have spent the past twenty-four hours crying my eyes out at that statement, sobbing and sobbing into my pillow last night as well. There are no more tissues left in the house now, and its all your fault. Never mind, to cheer myself up I am going out to buy myself some new underwear, the first for five years, as celebration of the fact that I am now a non-smoker. And some T Paper. I’m also going to buy some stuff to clean the curtains, towels, and flannels. I won’t tell you why, it’s disgusting.

  6. webmaster Says:

    I’m very relieved to hear of the new pants ;-)

    It’s been quite a cause for concern in some quarters.

  7. Why do I bother blogging? | God and Politics in the UK Says:

    [...] at eChurch managed to pull it all together quite nicely in response to posts by Anita Mathias, Archdruid [...]

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