State of the Blog

Two and a half years ago, I started this endeavor of writing a blog. I originally began this project primarily as a way to figure out the mechanics of writing. Though my wife hates it when I say this, I was “Forrest Gump’d” into a writing position with my employer nearly a year prior to starting the blog. I found I was pretty okay at it, but wanted to get better. And, as we all know, the way you get better at something is by doing it!

The other advantage of the blog was to have an outlet for working out my thoughts on how to apply the information I was consuming via books, blogs and podcasts. Between mid-2007 and early 2009 I had listened to hundreds of hours of preaching, read dozens of books and even more articles, but had no way to apply much of it. This can be a dangerous thing for a naturally prideful young man, as one can imagine.

In the time since, over 1000 articles on a daily or more than daily basis have been published. My family has left one church to join another with which we are better aligned doctrinally and missionally. My writing continues improve and I’m still having fun. I even get to read books for free which is an amazing gift to a reader who has no consistent book budget! But what I didn’t expect was that this would turn into a viable component of my personal ministry. (Note that I didn’t say that it is the totality of my ministry—if it were I think I’d need to shut it down.)

Through comments and emails I’ve learned that people are being encouraged in their faith through the articles, whether original content or quotes from what I affectionately call my dead mentors (and some living ones, too). I’ve had the opportunity to produce two free ebooks for personal and group use (and learned that some folks have been using them, even!). I’ve had the opportunity to encourage other bloggers in doing something they genuinely enjoy. Perhaps most encouraging was seeing that my church is comfortable with me continuing to write this blog. These are great gifts from God and I am grateful that He has allowed me to know about some of these things.

So what are a few things I’ve learned about blogging in the last 2.5 years? Here are a few:

1. Writing content takes a lot of time. When I committed to writing this blog, I think I underestimated the amount of time it would take to write good content on a regular basis. The amount of time I spend writing here is fairly significant, although I am careful to ensure that it does not encroach on time with my family and my ability to serve in our church and the needs of my employer. The total time spent on this averages between 10 and 14 hours a week, typically, outside of reading for review purposes. One regret: Not waiting to start until I had a few articles in the can. One improvement: I’ve got the framework for multiple pieces sitting in documents on my computer and in the Drafts folder.

2. Having something worth saying matters. The worst posts are always the ones that feel like filler. As time has gone on, I’ve been continually trying to make certain, as best as I’m able, that the content I’m releasing, whether original articles, reposted videos with discussion or quotes from books, is genuinely worth publishing. I hope I’m successful in this area.

3. Prayer is essential. As in all things, prayerlessness takes its toll on any sort of writing, whether for magazines, books or a blog. Some people are going to like what you say, others are going to hate it. But popularity in the eyes of man matters far less than faithfulness to Christ. I’ve been seeking to actively pray more as I engage in any form of writing, especially this blog since it is so immediate. If I want it to be known for anything, it is for a desire to see Jesus magnified. Pray lots and check your pride (seriously, it’s ridiculous how everything can stir up pride!).

4. Pick your battles. Sadly, there are many folks who, though they claim the name of Christ, sorely lack His character in how they play around on the internet. The most unhelpful thing I’ve done thus far has been allowing semi-anonymous persons’ comments to eat at me. Getting stressed out about the pajama-hadin is not going to help you sleep well at night.

5. You need your spouse to be on board. If your wife or husband doesn’t think you should be writing a blog and has legitimate reasons for believing so, it’s wise to listen. Had Emily not been willing to allow me to write this blog, I would not be writing it. The time investment mentioned above is great, but she is willing to give it to me because she sees the benefit and the opportunity for ministry. She’s also been incredibly encouraging, particularly when people use the anonymity of the internet to start trashing me (which has happened on a few occasions now thanks to a couple of controversial topics).

Thanks for reading—I’m grateful that you’ve chosen to allow me to be a part of your regular reading. I hope I’ll continue to be helpful in the weeks and months to come should the Lord allow.

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  • http://mrben.jedimoose.org/ mrben

    Thanks for blogging! I only started reading relatively recently – I think I probably arrived here via another page talking about Rob Bell – but I’ve really enjoyed your content.

    I’ve had a blog in various forms for a number of years, but have been debating recently about moving to a new site and posting more consistently, with a more in-depth, theological content, rather than the purely random ramblings of life in the past. My reasons are very similar to yours – learning loads and loads and wanting to output in some way.

    So – thanks for the tips, and the encouragement. Now I need to have a chat with my wife….

  • Anonymous

    Great post Aaron! Really appreciated the read this morning.

  • http://desposyni.blogspot.com Matt Dowling

    I appreciate the hard work you put into your blog Aaron. You have good, consistent posts and I know how time consuming that can be. I share your opinion that this is part of your ministry, and I hope the Lord continues to bless you in what you do.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks Matthew – I’m grateful for the encouragement! 

  • http://twitter.com/chibiforte Wesley R.

    “Between mid-2007 and early 2009 I had listened to hundreds of hours of preaching, read dozens of books and even more articles, but had no way to apply much of it. This can be a dangerous thing for a naturally prideful young man, as one can imagine.”

    This is basically exactly where I am right now.  I just started a theological blog the other day, and I’ve been working on articles slowly but steadily during the past few days.  I find that I should be trying to apply what I’ve been taking in through podcasts and books in order for me to really put my thoughts to words and organize it in my mind, as well as giving the opportunity for me to be corrected, if need be. One of my sins is pride, and I don’t want to fall into the trap of being holier-than-thou simply because of how much theological knowledge and thought I’ve been exposed to. Thank you for writing this. :)

  • http://www.aaronsellars.com Aaron Sellars

    These are just some of the many reasons why I don’t “blog”.  I just tinker around on my website and write reviews so I can continue to build my library on a small budget.  I don’t have the time or energy to give to such an endeavor right now.  I don’t even have time to help out with Poblete on the Gospel for OC.  Great insights though and these should be considered by all considering blogging.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Definitely good you’re holding off, then. I’d definitely encourage you to keep writing reviews. You’re doing a great job with them!

  • http://www.aaronsellars.com Aaron Sellars

    These are just some of the many reasons why I don’t “blog”.  I just tinker around on my website and write reviews so I can continue to build my library on a small budget.  I don’t have the time or energy to give to such an endeavor right now.  I don’t even have time to help out with Poblete on the Gospel for OC.  Great insights though and these should be considered by all considering blogging.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this Aaron. I subscribed to your blog over a year ago and have been blessed by its daily content. God has obviously gifted you as a writer and frequently, your posts trigger my thinking for content in our blog.

    Here’s a tip we have found to be very helpful.

    The pressure to produce frequent new content can induce one to post “weak” material. To minimise this, we have four regular post contributors on our site. I have deliberately chosen three others, each writing from different perspectives.

    1. Myself – senior citizen, retired country CEO of a multi-national.
    2. Stu – mid 30’s church leader with a medical career
    3. James – a charismatic, complimentarian Calvinist who is a reformed resurgent and pop culturalist 
    4. The Pastor of our church who describes himself as ‘reformed evangelical Christian – brought up Jewish

    You can imagine with this mix our blog is seldom boring. :-)

  • http://mrben.jedimoose.org/ mrben

    I’ve been reflecting on this for the past few days, and I have one additional question that I don’t think you’ve covered – where do you get your ‘inspiration’? Is it purely from reading books and blogs, or do you reflect on the news, or do you have a list of ideas, or is it just a random combination of ‘all of the above’?

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      That’s a great question. Inspiration is largely a combination of “all of the above.” I haven’t done a lot of reflecting on the news, although I should do more. I missed out on a good opportunity after the riots in Vancouver two weeks back. Most of my stuff comes out of books I’m reading and what’s popping up in my Bible.

      I generally also have a few posts in various stages in my drafts folder as well. Some only have a title. Others are pretty much complete.

  • Keystone

    Been away for awhile. Read a phrase that made you and your blog come to mind, as it related to “Everyday Theology”.  I thought you might give it a go and write about it one day.
    I read:
    “The family that prays together, stays together”.

    I ran it through Bible Gateway and found 1 and 2 Thess came up.  I read BOTH, and could not find the phrase as a “truism”.

    But I see families that prayed together split all the time.
    Indeed, though Biblical, the phrase “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”, has broken many parental hearts and needs explored.

    I found controversy here on my first visit long ago.  Undeserved controversy.
    But I enjoy the content immensely.

    I have no use for Anonymous comments, but found the need for pseudo-anon, ala Keystone, necessary since my views expressed have led to personal attack, and many bloggers are slouches at catching that.  One vitriolic person assumed multiple identities, and followed my comments on the Internet as they showed up on blogs.
    Note: I have long preferred comments over blog posts, as there is a huge lack of decent commentary on the internet, but a reasonable amount of excellent writing.

    I used my real name long ago and found a blog created using MY real name and posting pornography and the like, associating me with horrid topics. It was intentional. The worst part was posing pictures of my “supposed family” and referring to my mother and her occupation as a prostitute. My mom raised 12 children and had just died.  It was difficult to process such hatred, so a pseudo anon was needed.  I did keep accurate and unremovable records, and finally exposed my tormentor in my community, but the damage remains on Google to my real reputation, as folks do not know the background of personal attack.

    Some of my favorite bloggers were the worst to defend me and remove the vitriol.

    I pray that none of my comments have ever kept you up at night, unless it was a comment worth commenting on, and you were awake doing some pondering.

    I could write a book on bloggers, their style, technique, temperament, whether they are excellent writers or dullards that incite clicks and hits, but satisfy like cotton candy; sweet air of nothings.

    I have not always agreed with your stances on all topics, but I have always agreed this blog is excellent writing, and has a blogger of immense talent and temper.

    Anyway, give some thought to a post on Everyday Theology on the above topics mentioned.
    Do not be discouraged by comments ever.  I have told many bloggers who block comments, edit them to their own purposes, or block comments on a given post, that it is counterintuitive to ASK for comments, and then not post them as they come in. 

    Personal setbacks have prevented commentary on many issues I would like to here, but, as the saying goes…… “I’ll be back”. 

    Best regards to you, Emily, and the tykes.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Hey Keystone, thanks for popping in again – definitely nice to see you back around these parts (and no, none of your comments have ever really kept me up stressing through the night). I really like the idea of doing a post on “The family that prays together stays together.” Consider it on my “to-do” pile.

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