I’ve enjoyed blogging less lately. Looking back, the every-day blogging schedule was too demanding. The main reason I would write some days was the certain knowledge that, once the daily chain broke, my readership would decline. Indeed, I now get about half the readers I got when I’d post once a day or more.
And why do the numbers matter? It’s not that I have to justify my reach to anyone, and I don’t accept advertising. The numbers matter because I was willing to let increased readership feed my self-esteem. I didn’t write — or don’t think I wrote — anything I don’t believe, but I did appreciate the feedback and the spikes in readership.
But — not to put too fine a point on it — it isn’t worth it. What is worth it?
One of the lessons of the ministry is that you get early-on is that you may not know where or when you do some good, and I suppose the same is true for churches, too. Sometimes it’s the listening ear, the kind word or the open door that does more good — or so we hear, or imagine — than programs, or planning or a fine education or stained glass. But I wonder if that’s not face saving; perhaps not untrue, at least in the past, but a less-than-productive use of time, talent and treasure. And in a secularizing world, we can make a clear and candid review of the work of the church and the ministry, or others will do it for us.
The same thought occurs: what is the value of our work, what reason do we have to engage it, and its value to others?
It’s a bit of an overstretch — after all, I have an interest in Stanton Coit and denominational data generally — but I only write substantively about Christianity in the UUA. I write about worship in Christian terms. I write about mission in Christian terms. I write about connections among Unitarian Universalist Christians, and in ecumenical settings. I write about problems Christians have.
What about everyone else?
Well, for one thing, I know more about Christians than other Unitarian Universalists. There are fewer Christians, so there are fewer people to write. Many are personal friends. I am a member of a Christian church that’s a member of the UUA. And Christians make up a small minority among Unitarian Universalists.
For another, much of what I write applies to other Unitarian Universalists, especially since our habits and opportunities rest on a common foundation. If you’re willing to apply it to your own situation, you might discover some insights. (Christians are asked to translate meta-narratives all the time; it can be done.)
But the most important reason, is that I want to cultivate a particular voice that speaks consistently and predictably to and from the faith situation I dwell in. Unitarian Universalist Christians, while often spoken of as a singular group, really is remarkably diverse in theology, applied polity, politics and life situations.
There’s enough of a there there to give it some focus, to support the faithful and upbuild the body. I hope to do this by writing. I hope many people find this valuable (including non-Unitarian Universalist Christians) and it seems to be the work God has set out for me. It’s enough without planning to speak for or about those with whom I have a too-thin understanding.
My recent “This blog post is not about Starr King” post is the most read (or at least, clicked) item I’ve ever written here — at least that I have records for, to some point in 2013. (Earlier records lost.)
Below are the top twenty blog posts, as opposed to people who land on the front page. Suggests that “if it bleeds it leads” works for niche blogs, too. That and long-posted niche resources.
My point is not to aggravate people, but our little fellowship within the Unitarian Universalist Association has some bad habits that need correcting. So I’ll write tougher items and not be shocked when people read them. (An inexhaustive list includes clannishness, conflict avoidance, “terminal uniqueness” as Victoria Weinstein puts it, valuing internal conformity and minimizing poor people. One of the reasons I’m such an advocate of new church planting is that it might give us a project we can be proud of, and convert some of this restless energy.) If I wasn’t happy with my friends and congregation, I’d be happy to go alone. But I am otherwise happy and so I won’t be quiet. I’m also grateful for all the kind private messages I got this last week.
One of my assumptions behind this blog is that if I intend to do it right, I should do with some goals in mind. (I can understand why some people might think this is extreme for hobby, but it’s how I can describe it as a service.)
Because churches move at a glacial pace, I’m keeping the long view in sight.
So before the end 2015, I want to have written 4,000 blog posts.
And I want to have reached 3,600 blog posts by the end of 2014 General Assembly. Accomplished May 23, 2014.
From the beginning of 2014 to the end 2015, I want to be cited at least 25 times by blogs which linked back to my blog.
Because the writing is complementary, I want 750 followers on Twitter by the end of 2014. (I’m @bitb.) Accomplished July 15, 2014.
I’d like my average readership to be 60 per day by the end of 2014.
As a product of my blog work, I want to be invited, by the end of 2015, to participate in one non-blogging event, though it can be online, and I’m disallowing invitations by close friends. (If you have my cell number in your phone or have had a meal with me and or my husband, you count as a close personal friend.)
If you see this last metric as an inducement for you to invite me to participate in some joint action, to present a paper, or to be invited speaker, feel free to act that feeling.