How do I know? Because little more than a
week ago I compiled a list of every Christian blog I could find, and emailed
questions for this survey of Christian blogging. Since then at least
half-a-dozen new blogs have begun, and I’ve also become aware of plenty of
others. Few are more than several months old.
It’s a trend that replicates what’s
happening in the secular world—a huge surge in blogs: already half a million
of them, by some estimates.
I reckon you can divide the Christian blogs
into four very rough groups:
- The Catholic
bloggers, several of them quite prominent writers, who in the short time
that I’ve been watching have naturally been pretty concerned with the
sexual scandals in their church, though their interests range widely.
- Emerging church
bloggers. A crowd of generally younger Christians using the internet to
debate ways of making the church relevant to a post-modern generation.
- A group, perhaps
mainly Evangelicals, who comment a lot on religion, but who also roam
across politics, culture, ethics, science, society, sport and just about
anything else. (I’d classify myself in this mob.)
- Christians who use
their blog as a daily diary of their walk with the Lord.
But of course there are others who span
several groups, or who don’t fall into any category at all.
How did they get started? I can only touch
on some of the replies I received. (I’m struggling to keep this article
short in the face of some fascinating emails in response to my questions.
Can I suggest to the bloggers who wrote to me that they follow the lead of
Mark Byron and actually publish
their answers to me on their own websites.)
How, then, did they get started? Generally
people felt they had something they wanted to say, usually to the Christian
community, and recognised blogging as a method of instant communication.
Often they were inspired by the early wave of blogs, notably
Mickey Kaus and
James Lileks. Here’s a selection
Wanted to do something online, possibly
modelled on Mickey Kaus’s “Assignment Desk”. Glenn Reynolds [InstaPundit]
mentioned Blogger. The rest is history
(after a painful stint on GeoCities).
I started blogging last year after reading a
short article about Blogger. I checked it out and got hooked!
I kept noticing that most bloggers had a
certain tendency to lump all religious people together under the label
“rubes” or “potential terrorists” or whatever. None of the early blogs…were
too friendly to religious conservatives. I got into blogging to be a voice
against their mild bigotry, and to provide some other angles I thought I
could and that weren’t being covered elsewhere.
For a while, I had had the idea of starting a
site that would include links to news items of interest to Christians, with
possibly some comments….Then late last year I noticed an article on
FoxNews.com by Glenn Reynolds which included a link to his InstaPundit blog.
That’s how I discovered Blogger, which made my site really easy to set up.
I’m a bit of a web guy. I’ve started 16
websites. When I heard of blogging it seemed like something very powerful
Where do Christian bloggers get their ideas?
I get my story ideas everywhere, literally.
I’ll see something on another blog from a different angle than the blogger
and I’ll blog my take. Sometimes an idea will just occur to me…and I’ll just
blog away at it. There’s really no limit to the sources for story ideas.
Breaking news can set the agenda for blogging
and you have to be able to respond. Having said that, I’m trying very hard
not to be driven by breaking news.
I’ll…do news searches from a couple of
different search sites, which every once in a while allows me to turn up
stuff from more obscure newspapers.
I like prowling the web, finding nifty
nuggets that my regular readers might not have time to gather on their own.
Well, it’s kind of funny because basically
all I do is find links. I try to find the things that people are interested
in, they just don’t know it yet. A personal favourite of mine is marriage.
Whatever I’m reading or thinking.
However, one blogger sounded an important
The one challenge about blogging in Christian
circles is that blogs are a great way to deliver gossip and pick fights,
neither of which is a Christian virtue—we must resist the temptation.
How much traffic do they attract? Some don’t
know. (Some don’t even want to know, which will be a shock to those bloggers
who regularly stay up until midnight just to check the day’s traffic numbers
on their stats server.) For those who know, the range seemed to be 20 to 200
unique hits per day.
I didn’t really get into blogging to attract
a bunch of readers, because attracting a lot of readers is not something I
ever expected to do. I really do it because I have fun commenting on the
news. If someone else is able to enjoy reading what I write, all the better.
A couple hundred per day. More if I get
linked somewhere snazzy like InstaPundit or
but that’s rare.
Andrew Sullivan linked to my site one day and
blew my hit counter up to 1,500.
Some make quite intensive efforts to promote
their sites. Others are still struggling.
I am trying to promote the site a little bit.
I’ve encouraged readers to share…with friends and I plan to place a couple
of cheap classified ads in some Catholic publications.
My plan is to (a) get mentioned by other
sites, ministries, groups…(b) make sure that 25 top Christian editors…are
keenly aware of the blog.
Admittedly, I haven’t put much effort into
promotion, the fault is my own. But how does one promote a blog? I’m open
for pointers on that area.
I don’t do much at this point. I’m more of an
introvert by nature, so I’m not a great salesman. I did email some other
bloggers to get some feedback in the early days.
And finally, do Christian blogs make a
difference? Are they starting to influence the Christian—and the
non-Christian—culture? What is the future for Christian blogging?
I definitely think Christian blogging will
make a difference in the long run, but it isn’t the focal point of our
mission as Christians. Ultimately, personal meetings and face-to-face
fellowship will make a bigger difference than any blog every could. (But
it’s a start…)
We must be engaged in the culture and attempt
to shape it while not being pulled in by it (in the world, but not of it),
and blogging is a cutting-edge way to do that.
I can imagine a blog would be a great way for
a missionary to keep his home community up-to-date on what’s happening. Lots
of possibilities here.
I do hope blogging becomes a tool that
Christians embrace and learn to wield effectively. It’s a great way to be in
the culture and comment on it and maybe reach a few people. It’s also a
great way to sharpen up your own ability to think about the arguments of
others and make your own rhetoric more effective….Our blogs should be
well-written, interesting and demonstrate a decent level of thought and
reasoning power. There are plenty of Christians out there who can and should
start up a blog and get in the game.
The idea of a Christian blog seems kind of
boring to me, but a Christian who does blog well is kind of cool.
The blogs that I like…sometimes scoop
established media or tell stories that aren’t being told—very valuable—[and]
provide the personal touch that is now desired in this post-modern era—where
people aren’t so concerned about the reporter holding up a veneer of
objectivity, but rather “tell me what you think, I’ll decide for myself”.
I’ve found the “blogosphere” treatment of the
Catholic sex-abuse scandals to be much more thoughtful, careful (unwilling
to hijack the scandals for one’s own political purposes), and theological
(treating the Church as the Body of Christ rather than as just another
bureaucracy) than the coverage in the mainstream media.
Within Christian circles I do think some
blogs could stand out and become quite popular. (I’m just not sure how far
that popularity will actually reach.) But I do think, for instance, that if
Cal Thomas were to start a blog, he would become almost immediately very
“Christian blogs are explosive!” It’s not a
headline that could be written yet. But it could come. Perhaps much faster
than anyone can imagine.
Thank you to the following bloggers who sent replies to my questions.
Dispatches from Outland
News for Christians
April 30th, 2002