4.12.2007

the blogging church: a book review

I want to recommend to you a book I read a couple of months ago. The Blogging Church: Sharing the Story of Your Church Through Blogs by Brian Bailey and Terry Storch (2007 John Wiley & Sons)

I got it from my Friend Joanne who works for Jossey-Bass which published the book – she thought I might like it, and she was right!

The first time I flipped through it, I picked up some good tips. I went back to read it more closely and was even more impressed. Some of the tips were things I kind of knew I should do but hadn’t bothered about. Other parts were pushing me to think more clearly about why I write this blog, what I hope to accomplish with it, and how to get there.

One of the good things about the book, The Blogging Church, is that it doesn’t assume that you know anything about blogs. It starts out with acknowledging that not too long ago, very few people knew much or cared at all about blogs. It builds the case for how a blog can help a church achieve its mission. It gives very basic information about how to start a blog, and then how to improve the blog you have. It’s not written in tech geek language. My favorite equation in the book (maybe the only mathematics in the book) is this:

$0 + passion + commitment = impact

The authors are making the point that blogging is the perfect formula for most churches. It doesn’t cost money, it just takes time and energy. Which is what most people who are interested in church outreach have. Frankly, if blogging had cost money, I probably wouldn’t have started. (Yes, I know you can spend money on a blog, but you don’t have to.)

Also, the book is not just for church staff. One of the things I had to get over was that I don’t really agree with the theology of the few quoted names that I recognized. But it’s not a book about how to structure a church or parachurch organization, or about what church's mission should be. In fact, wherever it says “your church,” it could easily say “your cause” or “your leading.” I highly recommend this book to Friends who have a calling to do something about the environment or peace and want to start a blog. Just remember that you’ll have to make this translation, since Quaker structure is so different from most church structures.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to take my blog more seriously, but I hadn’t really done anything about that in January. In February, shortly after receiving this book, I took the first few steps. I cleaned up my sidebar, putting the archives into a drop-down menu, rearranging the order of the sections, refreshing the links and robinopedia entries. I wrote the disclaimer that now appears at the bottom of the page. I set up an easier way for people to subscribe to my blog, either via email or the blogreader of their choice. These were all basic tips that didn’t require great tech savvy or even a lot of time to take advantage of more of the free features available.

Probably the most important tip I took away was the relationship between regular posting and regular readers. Now, I knew that from my own experience. I am more likely to read bloggers who write frequently, or even every week on the same day. So I tried this. I wrote something almost every day for a month and readership went way up. Both random Google-sent visitors and Friends from all over. Then my real life got in the way of blogging and I wrote a lot less over the last month, and readership is down, but not as far as it was at the beginning of the year. So it works. The Blogging Church also has good tips for how to create and maintain good content.

The last thing I liked about this book is that it recognizes that blogging can be habit forming – both reading and writing. It has honest and funny stories about how people get sucked into the blogosphere, losing touch with the rest of their lives. So it comes with a warning – “Don’t get addicted. Keep blogging in proper perspective.” Good advice about blogging and ministry and anything else. Finally, it offers some queries for considering when and if to quit, to stop writing a particular blog or any blogging at all. I intend to go back to Chapter 2 “Why Blog?” from time to time, to see if I’m still clear about why I write this blog and if I’m accomplishing the admittedly vague goals I have for it.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Brian Bailey said...

Robin,

Thanks so much for your kind words! They are greatly appreciated. I'm glad you've found the book helpful, if you come to it from a different perspective.

Blessings,

Brian Bailey

4/12/2007 3:10 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

Hey, Robin -

Thanks for mentioning this book. Sounds like I will have to add it to my next QuakerBooks order!

I've been dealing with a bad cold this week and so my blog writing and blog reading both have gone way down. It's hard to let it go when it provides me a proper dose of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual stimulation!

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

4/14/2007 10:11 AM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

Two more quick things -

1. Since seeing that Brian Bailey posted a comment here, Robin, I sought out his website and blog.

2. Anyone can order any book you want at QuakerBooks of FGC. Their prices might be a bit higher but FGC pays its employees a living wage, gives them very good benefits, and provides excellent customer service. Plus, QuakerBooks gives discounts for reading groups and can help any Friend set up a book table.

Okay, I'm done with my plug. smile

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

4/14/2007 10:22 AM  
Blogger Laurie Kruczek said...

$0 + passion + commitment = impact


Great statement. It really says it all. Gonna have to get this book, too, it looks like.

Thanks for the review, Robin :)

4/15/2007 4:03 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Brian, one of the other things that your book drove home for me is that bloggers should make a point of replying to all commenters, and not leave one comment hanging alone. Guess that also means don't post right before you go away for the weekend and won't be able to respond for a few days. I'm glad you found my post too.

Liz, thanks for plugging Quakerbooks. org. I meant to put that in, and I forgot in my rush to post before I left.

Laurie - it is a good book, both for beginners and for intermediate level bloggers. Enjoy!

4/15/2007 11:10 PM  

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