Four Pastoral Blogging Taboos and How To Fix Them

January 14, 2008 by

We see from the Blogging Pastor Poll Results that were posted back in November that 72% of pastors aren’t blogging successfully. I can’t imagine that the percentage has changed over the Christmas season, so we’ll assume those numbers are still accurate.

Ignoring the fact that 56% said that they don’t even have a blog, we’ll jump straight to the next issue. What’s keeping your blog from being as effective as possible? We’re going to look at four common problems and offer four easy ways to fix them.

1. Using misspelled words and poor grammar.
While distracting readers is one risk, another is the possibility of losing credibility with your readers. Although there’s little need to stick to MLA or Turabian formatting rules, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to throw out intelligent writing altogether.

There are a couple of steps you can take to make sure you avoid this pitfall. First, use your automatic spellchecker. If your blog platform doesn’t offer it built-in, then use an external text editor that does have one and then copy/paste the purified text into your blog. Second, have someone else read the post before it’s posted. A second pair of eyes will catch misspelled words, poor grammar and other oddities that your eyes won’t see.

2. Posting sporadically.
Finding a rhythm can be one of the most useful habits you can form when it comes to blogging. If you can’t dedicate yourself to a daily posting regimen, then post every other day or on Mondays and Thursdays. It doesn’t matter when you post as long as your readers can somewhat predict when it will happen.

3. Using inside jokes that only few of your readers understand.
This is less obvious because inside jokes don’t seem that way to the folks who are on the inside. The best way to remedy this blogging faux pas is to blog consciously. Think about or maybe even outline what you write before you start writing. Another benefit of this is that you’ll find the content (the meat) of what you write will begin to improve and become more worthy of being read.

4. Mind-dumping.
I’m going to get in trouble for this one, but it’s one of the biggest hindrances and turnoffs to readers. Mind-dumps should not take place on your pastoral blog. They’re disorganized, choppy, difficult to follow and usually pointless. After encountering several mind-dumps, your readers will become either frustrated or bored with your blog and leave. Move that sort of content to another blog or mini-blog (try Tumblr) that you use for more personal topics. A fix for this taboo is, again, planning.

Any one of these taboos can send readers packing. Beware and be aware that your blog is fragile and your readers are fickle. Don’t assume that people will read simply because you’re the pastor. Valuable, logical, intelligent content can take your blog from good to great.

Post By:

Scott Magdalein

Scott Magdalein is the founder of TrainedUp, a simple online training platform used by ministries and teams of all sizes to develop leaders, train volunteers, teach the Bible and equip believers. Connect with Scott on Twitter.
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14 Responses to “Four Pastoral Blogging Taboos and How To Fix Them”

  • Shane
    January 14, 2008

    I disagree with the last point. Several blogs I read do “mind dumps.” They, at times, will blog about their services or a bunch of different topics at one time. Most of those actually help me know what others are doing in ministry.

  • Adam
    January 14, 2008

    I agree with Shane, though I have yet to do a mind dump (that I can remember) in my several years of blogging, I find that seeing a snapshot of what is going on in a pastors mind is a valuable thing. Besides, I have a short attention span and I like bullet points…

  • Kirt Manuel
    January 14, 2008

    I like this advice. And I agree with the caution about an online “mind dump.” In most cases, save that for your journal. It’s easy for readers to mistake a pastor’s “mind dump” for new church positions or some sort of firm decision. We *want* them (our flock, the assumed readers) to just see our hearts and minds at work as we pursue God. But all too often our wrestling or pondering gets them all worked up — in unhealthy ways. If it led to conversation, that would be great. But it doesn’t usually — and that’s hard when you’re tired.

  • Gordon
    January 14, 2008

    I don’t think it’s an either/or thing. This post is about trying to get your pastoral blog rolling. In those early days the mind dump isn’t as always as helpful to the task of defining the mind space of the blog. Particularly for the pastor’s congregants, I think it’s important to move in steps from the (hopefully) crafted communication on a Sunday, to a more informal blog style, to a periodic ‘mind dump’ post. In those early stages you need to build the credibility and context of your mind space and ideas before a mind dump is helpful to reveal glimpses of the inner life.

  • Kirt Manuel
    January 14, 2008

    Well said, Gordon. Thanks.

  • Scott Magdalein
    January 14, 2008

    @Kirt & Gordon – I agree with you both whole-heartedly.
    @Shane & Adam – A mind-dump on a pastor’s blog is fine if the blog’s purpose as a whole is coming from the church leadership perspective. In that case, it’s a quick “here’s what we’re doing that maybe you can try also” post. But as a “pastoral” blog, the purpose is aimed toward the congregation and mind-dumping can have adverse affects for non-church leaders.
    Great discussion!

  • Terrace Crawford
    January 14, 2008

    Great post. I agree with you Scott all except #4, the mind-dump… which seems to be the object of the comments here already.
    I do a mind-dump once a week, actually on Mondays, and its one of the most popular posts on my blog. Everyone I run into tells me its their favorite. I realize that this is not always the case with everyone’s blog. I’d also mention that mind-dumps would not be a good idea if a pastor would use it to communicate church business in them or rant about things he doesn’t like in the church. I typically use it for shear “randomness”, encouragement, occasional shout-outs to volunteers, etc. For this I think its a great type-post.
    Just my three cents.

  • Burt
    January 14, 2008

    I’ve been blogging for over two and 1/2 years now. What I don’t see being addressed by this article, or the survey linked to it, is what defines “blogging successfully.” What constitutes a successful blog? What is the measure?

  • Jermayn Parker
    January 15, 2008

    Mind dumps can be good but they must be balanced and should not be a place were the pastor vents his frustration, thats when he should go to God to do that.

  • Scott Magdalein
    January 15, 2008

    @Burt – In my mind, that’s easy. It means accomplishing the goals of your blog. The reason a “mind-dump” hinders the success of a pastoral blog is because they don’t normally communicate effectively and therefore aren’t helping pastors in their day to day communication with their church.

  • Ken Row
    January 18, 2008

    I think “mind-dump” needs defined.
    If you’re talking about the fairly common practice of listing 10 or more short, disconnected, positive blurbs that you’ve been wanting to say something about, I think that’s fine.
    If you’re talking about venting — letting loose all of the frustration that’s been building up — you’d be better off hand-writing your vent, praying over it, and tossing it in the shredder.

  • Nathan Ketsdever
    January 19, 2008

    Great post!
    Mind-dumping. There is purposed (aka based on biblical principles) and unpurposed mind dumping. Certainly there should be a high threshold for venting, however in a **small number of instances**, purposeful venting. I think, the alternative, of lifting people up or challenging them is generally and perhaps overwhelmingly the better alternative in most cases.

  • Jacob Vanhorn
    January 28, 2008

    Great points. This helps me think about my blogging and how I use it. I think the best recommendation is to outline your blog before writing it.
    Mind dump or not, the post should be well written and the author should help the reader understand what he is trying to say. Mind-dumping might even be the most important area to be clear in, because of its nature.
    If the writer is engaged in deep thinking and deep feeling, then the mind dump can be very helpful. It is the mind-dump from people who don’t think critically that is a waste of my time. In short, tell me some things you are wrestling with, maybe we are too.
    It also depends on your audience. Young 20 something postmoderns or 45 year old marrieds may have different expectations here.

  • Norman Prather
    February 17, 2008

    Just curious, why are you surprised 56% of pastor’s don’t blog? I can safely say no one in the three churches I serve would read it. In fact I suspect only 1 or 2 people know what a blog is. In the communities we serve perhaps 2-3 % might have any familiarity with blogs. As much as I enjoy the internet and it’s potential blogging is a non starter for reaching into these communities.

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