Blogging for a Sustainable Future
I started doing this in January 2009. That’s close to four years of blogging and well over a thousand posts. I didn’t know what I was doing when I started. I never really thought I would be blogging four years later. I certainly never imagined my readership would increase like it has or that I would end up taking hours each week to keep the blog going.
To tell you the truth, I have a love-hate relationship with blogging. There are weeks when I hate the time commitment. I usually write a week’s worth of blog posts on Monday. It’s a serious investment. It’s not like I’m pining for more responsibilities or more due dates in my life. I also dislike the controversy that comes with blogging, whether it’s necessary controversy or a result of excessively critical comments and nasty trolls. And then there are the times I post something too quickly, too sloppily, or too harshly. That’s when I hate blogging the most, when I make a mistake or say something that proves inaccurate or unwise.
But then there is the other side of blogging. Whenever I’ve thought about hanging up my blogging boots, every person I ask tries to persuade me that the effort is worthwhile. When I travel and meet new people they often tell me “I read your blog all the time” (and more often than not they mention Monday Morning Humor). It seems that my time is not spent in vain (though I’m proud enough to wish they mentioned my preaching instead of my blogging). I’m thankful that years of plodding along in the blogosphere gave me the platform to write a review of Love Wins and allows me to weigh on current events, books, or controversies. I’m thankful for Collin Hansen and Ben Peays and John Starke and all the folks at TGC for giving me a home. I’m thankful for Justin Taylor; without his links in the early days my blog would have never gotten off the ground. I’m thankful for everyone who reads, especially those who have taken the time to say so. Most of all, I’m thankful I can do something I (usually) love. I enjoy all the reading, thinking, and writing that goes into blogging. Hopefully it honors Christ and opens up the Word of God.
All of this is by way of preface. For several months I’ve been thinking, praying, and talking to others about how to make my blogging habits more sustainable. Unless you are a regular blogger, it’s hard to understand how much time and effort it takes to keep a blog going. I don’t say that to complain; it’s a privilege to write and be read. But I’ve realized over the past six months or more that if I want to continue blogging into the future, I need to change the way I do some things. I have five kids, a growing church, books I’d like to write, places I’m supposed to go to, and a number of outside organizations, committees, and projects I’m a part of. How does blogging fit in to all that? I struggle to keep up with my blog on most weeks, but especially when I’m traveling, when I’m working on a book, when I’m on study leave, or when I’m on vacation (and actually want to be on vacation!).
I’ve toyed around with a number of ideas, everything from making the blog a team endeavor to stopping altogether. Here’s what I’ve come up with instead. It’s not drastic, but these small changes should help me, and hopefully they will only make the blog better for you.
- I will continue to do Monday Morning Humor (first things first!).
- I will continue to (almost) always take Sunday off. In general I will take Saturday off as well.
- I’d like to write 1-2 substantive pieces a week. Working on these will be my priority. With all the noise and tweets and blogs and commentary out there, I figure quality is more important than quantity. It seems better for me and more useful for the kingdom to write one truly important piece as opposed to filling up space with four immediately forgotten entries.
- As a new feature, I’m going to try posting a sermon excerpt most weeks. With the help of some friends from my church, I’ll pick a brief short segment from my sermon, post the transcript, and link to the short clip (and the sermon itself). The goal is not to push my own stuff, but to use content I’ve already produced and put it on the blog in a digestible way.
- With any days left during the week I may post a quotation I come across in my reading, jot down some thoughts that are dying to get out, or simply do nothing at all.
- I’ll continue to use Jason Helopoulos and other members of our church staff to spot-blog on occasion. They do a terrific job.
- Finally, one of the biggest burdens of blogging is the feeling that you never get a break. I preach over 40 Sunday a year. That’s a lot, but I can easily build in breaks. I can take four weeks off in the summer and not have to think about sermons for a month. But up to this point, I’ve not done that well with blogging. Instead, I’ve kept on blogging during overseas trips and study leaves, or I’ve worked ahead to keep the posts coming over holidays and vacation. For everyone not named Tim Challies, this feels like an unsustainable pattern. That doesn’t mean I’ll disappear from the blog 10 weeks a year. But it does mean there will be more times when I take a week or two off and tap my gifted friends to fill in. It may mean that the blog goes silent for a week every once in awhile. There are worse things in the world than having one less blog to check for a few days.
I hope these small but important changes don’t feel like I’m backing away from blogging. To me they feel like big steps toward making the enterprise more worthwhile, more enjoyable, and more long-term. I write too much as it is. Few people can keep up with multiple blog posts over 1000 words. Few people have read this whole post word for word. The world isn’t clamoring for more information. And, if truth be told, they aren’t clamoring for more of Kevin DeYoung. The biggest obstacles to making these necessary changes have, no doubt, come from myself. I need to trust my readers won’t curse my name if they show up on a Wednesday and find the same post from Tuesday. I need to be okay with staying silent more often. I need be fine with others entering the fray in my place.
The global Church is a big body and I’m just a little pinky finger. It will be okay if this little finger pounds out fewer blogs each year. Everything will be just fine, and the pinky may even do some better work.