LOVE IS CONCRETE

What I’ve Learned in Two Years of Blogging & Neil Cole and I Discuss Missional/Organic Church

When Michael Hyatt (the CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers) got to his four year anniversary of blogging, he listed 7 things he had learned from the exercise. Michael’s blog inspired this post.

I’m going to list Michael’s 7 points (with some adjustments), because I resonate with all of them. Then I’ll be adding 5 more of my own.

I’ve been blogging since June of 2008 at http://www.frankviola.wordpress.com. So it’s been a little over two years since my blog launched. Since that time, I’ve blogged 332 posts and the blog has had over 4,200 comments from readers. It’s gotten more than 400,000 views.

I remember as far back as 2001, some of my friends encouraged me to start a blog. And I kept saying to them, “I don’t have the time.”

Well, I didn’t . . . and I still don’t. But here I am, blogging every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (If I could explain the above sentence to you, I’d be three-fold a Solomon.)

If I started blogging when my friends prodded me 9 years ago, who knows where this blog would have ranked today. (Amazingly, the blog has reached #15 on Technorati in “Religion” – I still don’t understand how that happened to be honest.)

So here’s my list.

The first 7 are borrowed directly from Michael’s list [my adjustments to what he wrote appear in brackets]:

Blogging helps me clarify my own thinking. This is probably the primary benefit of blogging for me. Sometimes I am not sure what I think about a topic until I have written on it. Writing helps me untangle my thoughts. [True dat.]

Blogging has given me first-hand experience with emerging technologies. I have listened to many CEOs pontificate on this or that technology. But they are not speaking from personal experience—and it shows. When you actually use a technology, your learning and insights go to a higher level. [Word.]

Blogging has provided me with a mechanism for instant feedback. I love the fact that people can comment on what I have written. Whether the comments are good or bad, they help sharpen my thinking. As James Surowiecki said in The Wisdom of Crowds, the “many are smarter than the few.” [Sho ‘nuff.]

Blogging has given others a “peek behind the curtain.” [I’ve adjusted this one a bit. Michael was talking about his role as a CEO.] Some people are interested in the behind the scenes of an author’s work, whether they be books, conferences, or messages. This blog gives me an opportunity to share that with you all.

Blogging has given me a way to engage my readers. [I’ve adjusted this one, as Michael was talking about his employees.] I receive a lot of mail from readers, mostly encouraging. But sometimes from critics. In both cases, I’m asked questions about the things I’ve written. The blog gives me a venue to converse with them directly. One of the things that I find sad, however, is that some critics will blog or critique something I’ve allegedly written, without coming to me about it or asking for a response. One wonders why they won’t appear on this blog to discuss it directly and see if their criticisms hold any weight. But such is life.

Blogging has helped me bypass traditional media when necessary. I didn’t really understand this at the outset, but it has proven very helpful. When the media fail to get the story right, I can quickly address it and provide my side of the story. This has been particularly helpful when we make big decisions that cause people to speculate. A blog post can stop a rumor dead in its tracks. [That was all Michael, but I resonate.]

Blogging has made this ministry more visible. [I’ve adjusted this one also as Michael was talking about his company, Thomas Nelson.] This blog puts an interactive “voice” to this ministry for those who listen to our podcast and read our books, and wish to discover more.

What follows are my 5.

Blogging gives me a sounding board for future ideas and projects. Some of you may have noticed this, but some of my blog posts have shown up as chapters in my books. The blog, therefore, is a great way to get feedback on an idea before it gets published to a broader audience.

Blogging gives me a venue to push the limits on the blogosphere by experimenting with various innovations. I think of the blog as sort of a studio where creativity knows no bounds. Those of you who have been with us from the beginning know what I’m talking about. Some examples are: ‘the one word monologue’ – ‘the two word monologue’ – ‘the what if question’ – ‘rant and rave day’ – ‘adventures in being a talk radio show host’ – and the now famous (or infamous) $25,000 give-away to every person who commented and $5,000 to every person who “read” someone else’s comment. That episode made history.

Blogging gives me a venue for showing how all of my work is tied together.This, in effect, helps my readers to better understand any publication that I’ve had a hand in. For instance, some who have read one or two of my books think that I’m all about “church” and “church restoration.” Yes, but not really. Others think I’m all about making/keeping Jesus central. Yes, but not exactly. Others think I’m into throwing fresh nuances on Scripture-reading, especially reading it as narrative. Yes, but not fully. Others think it’s centered on knowing the Lord in a deep way with others. Indeed, but not all. The thread that runs through all of my work is the eternal purpose – God’s epic, grand mission – which is comprehensive in its scope, yet very narrow in its application. It spans the eternals, yet it touches every particular in the here and now.

Blogging has helped me answer my critics with the graciousness of Christ. I hope this is true. One way to view unjust criticism is to get upset, reject it out of hand, defend, or attack back. The other is to view it as an opportunity to reveal Jesus Christ in one’s response. Over the years, God has given me an instinct to view it in the latter way. I hope that I’ve been faithful to respond in a gracious manner at all times.

Blogging gives me an opportunity to learn from others. I happen to believe that some of the sharpest people in the world comment on my blog. I’ve been sharpened a great deal by you. Anytime I’ve had a question about something, or asked for feedback on an idea, I’ve been impressed. I’ve learned a great deal from the folks who have taken the time to make comments. Thank you!

So what has blogging taught you?

Originally Posted at http://www.frankviola.wordpress.com

** Neil Cole & I Discuss Missional Organic Church – join our conversation.

** Want to drive more traffic to your blog? Swap blog links with us. Step 1: Addhttp://frankviola.wordpress.com to your blogroll. Step 2: Send your blog name and url to Jeanette at PTMIN@aol.com. If you’ve added a link to our blog, a link to your site will be added to our link list.

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