Why I started blogging. Why I stopped. And why I started again.
For most of my cognisant life I’ve been a writer. But I haven’t always been a blogger. People write for a variety of reasons, but anyone who writes for published purposes, be that a tweet, a post on a free blogging platform, or to submit to a publisher, writes to be read. Self expression may play a part, that desire to move abstract thoughts from the privacy of our mind onto paper with scholastic clarity or artistic prose, but ultimately, anyone with a desire to publish those thoughts writes for more than just self expression. Writers write to be read. In recent days, a fascinating discussion has emerged on the state of the Christian blogosphere. Sparked initially by Tim Challies with Three Types of Blogs, then followed expertly by Samuel James with The Present and Future of Christian Blogging. Tim has continued the conversation with Why You Shouldn’t Stop Blogging - or Why You Should Consider Starting. I’m not sure I can write in the same room as these guys with any credibility, but I thought I may be able to add anecdotal evidence to the conversation. Hopefully it may be of benefit to the direction this exchange is taking.
Why I started blogging
For most of the first decade of the new millennia I'd been writing. None of it was published. I wrote simply for the joy of self expression. During the same time period, Christ was sparking a fire in my bones for the gospel to take root in his church. All of a sudden my writting had a direction to move in, a purpose greater than itself. Writing became a means of proclaiming, and proclaimation is a neccessary componant of the gospel. After all, can it be news, good or otherwise, if it is not told?
With the advent of the age of blogs, I soon found myself staking out a tiny claim somewhere in the back-blocks of the Wordpress world. I tentatively pressed publish on my first post — it was a critique of someone elses post, I think it was something to do with Rob Bell. I started blogging because I was a writer who thought they had something to say. I wasn't sure who I was saying it to, nor did I really have a handle on my own voice. But I began, I believe with good intent, because the gospel compels us to proclaim.
Why I stopped
For close to seven years I wrote with complete abandon to my own whimsical desires. I wrote with no strategy for development apart from my own internal dissatisfaction with poor writing. I was my own editor, my own content strategist (though I'm still not sure what that actually is), and my own marketing consultant. One of my greatest struggles was with sporadic writing schedules, and I admit to using that word extremely loosly, as I followed no schedule at all. When the stars aligned I would produce a flurry of content and push it all out as soon as was possible. Then, more often than not, would follow silence that rivaled the intertestamental period. Yet, through the slow and imperfect plodding of it all, my writing somehow improved. So said my wife, the seven other people who regularly read my posts (I have a reasonably supportive extended family), and as I tried to objectively filter their feedback, I eventually came to the same conclusion; I was a better writer now then when I had first begun.
With great fear and trembling I submitted my first unsolicited manuscript to the then fairly new ministry blog, For The Church. To my delight it was returned with favourable comments and a date when it would be published. I felt like I'd made it; I'd reached the pinnacle. I wasn't privy to the numbers, but I assumed that my content was now being read by the masses, why would I keep hammering away with my own backwater blog when I had a ready-made audience waiting for me on the other side of the pond? Toward the close of 2017 as more articles were published by FTC, and then closer to home with TGC Australia, I decided my little claim no longer had a reason to exist. I pulled the sheets over the furniture, swung the shutters shut, and closed the door.
Why I started up again
But something had occured over all those years and across all those platforms, something had silently been growing though not even I had been aware. I grew a voice. Somewhere in the midst of it all, I suddenly became aware of the tone I best carried, the audience I wept for, and the hope I had been crafted to shout about over the white noise of the world. It was the gospel. It had always been the gospel. But the gospel is no puddle that dries up following a summer storm, the gospel is grander and deeper than the Pacific that throws itself against the shoreline not far from my home. So I found my beach where I just keep dipping into the cool waters of grace that endlessly swish around my ankles, and I throw it with abandon on whoever walks close enough. I love my friends at FTC, also those closer to home at TGC Australia; I'll keep sharing buckets of grace with them as often as I'm able, but there's more to be said than what their posting schedule allows.
So I dusted off the furniture, threw the shutters wide open again, gave the old place a quick coat of paint, and hung a new sign over the door. The gospel lit a fire in me that will not go out. I'll preach about it, write about it, and sing about it, until the years ensure there are no more words to give. My prayer is that when I must lay the banner down, a hundred more will be standing at my back willing to carry it forward again.