Thinking Out Loud

October 27, 2010

When is a Blog Not a Blog?

Normally, the Wednesday Link List would be here, and I’ve had comments both on and off the blog about how much you enjoy it.    Probably, it will be back next week, but today it’s not going to happen for two reasons:

  1. Although the comments have been most encouraging, the statistics tell another story.   Many people read the page, but only a handful actually click on the links in question.   I’m frustrated with that, and wondering how to change things.
  2. Some of the links have been to sites where I regularly visit and leave comments, and I’ve noticed lately there has been a recurring pattern where comments I’ve left have not been moderator-approved.   I think this is part of a larger issue concerning the “closed community” that has developed on certain blogs that I’ll deal with separately in a few days; but also the personal side inasmuch as I have dealt with various types of rejection from the Christian community throughout my entire life, so that on a subjective level, it hurts.

I’ve also noticed that there is an increasing tendency on some blogs to not allow comments, or just post the first half-dozen and then close comments completely.   One of the most glaring examples of this is Southern Baptist guru, Albert Mohler.    He likes the efficiency of using a content-management-system (CMS) to create an online presence, but isn’t up for the discussions that might follow.   I suppose if you see your page as nothing more than a “web-log,” that’s fine, but living as we do in a Web 2.0 world, the interaction is what makes this sector of the internet so meaningful.   In fact, I don’t know a CMS provider that doesn’t allow for the possibility of response.

So I poured this out in a heartfelt letter composed to Mr. Mohler, only to get back a form letter from his assistant saying he is too busy to respond.   But not to busy to post his daily encyclical.   Contrast this to Nashville multi-site pastor Pete Wilson, a guy who seems accessible on so many levels; or Thomas Nelson publishing president Michael Hyatt.   They’re busy, too; but they realize if they enter into this particular online world, it’s got to be a dialogue not a monologue.

The problem in so much of Christian endeavor is that people are dying to speak and have their views heard, but not so anxious to listen.     Many grew up in a world where Christian radio broadcast the message of preachers to a world that had no opportunity to respond.    Even today, the number of Christian radio and TV ministries that incorporate a “talkback” or “mailbag” segment is embarrassingly small.

If you don’t have time to listen, you need to reconsider the ministry of Jesus.   So many of his responses to people were in the form of a question; and in his case, questions for which he already knew the answers.

Although the comments-to-readers ratio here is somewhat lower than I’d like, I am so very thankful for the people I’ve gotten to know here, especially where the conversation moved off the blog.    I’m also thankful for being the recipient of the same hospitality from other blogs.   And I will continue to link to writers who have something to say even if they don’t reciprocate.

# # # #

FOOTNOTE 1:   The experiment in church planting that I did one hour east of Toronto — Transformation Church — had this as its advertising tag line:   “Ever wished you could put up your hand in church to ask a question?   Now you can.”     Interactivity is a feature today in many newer churches and the need for this is supported by many Christian authors.    But many are slow to catch on to this.

It’s also apparent in our evangelism efforts, where we ask people questions, but the questions have a pre-determined outcome.   (“So if you’ve told a lie, I guess that makes you a liar, right?”)   The end result is that we’re following the template of a set speech; we’re not speaking with we’re speaking to. That’s just so wrong.

FOOTNOTE 2 — Characteristics of Web 2.0

  • Openness
  • Modularity
  • User control
  • Modularity
  • Participation

For more information click here.

Here’s another way of looking at the “ingredients” of Web 2.0:



  1. I haven’t visited your Wednesday List but I intend to do so. I really appreciate what you say about blogging and leaving comments and interaction.

    I belonged to a social networking site for a number of years. Blogs there received dozens of comments and there was LOTS of interaction between friends. It was a great time of sharing as well as a lot of fun. Unfortunately that site went “sour” and blogging and comments almost disappeared.

    That is when I came here to wordpress – what a difference! It seems that while I get up to 100 “hits” a day, there are very few comments and not much interaction.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — October 27, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

    • I know a guy who had a very strong Christian blog on Tumblr, even though many of the blogs there are edgy and even pornographic. I thought it was great that he was being a light in a dark place, but eventually I guess you become guilty by association.

      I came to WordPress from e4god — I had hoped to stay with a Christian blog service provider — but they got badly hacked. Fortunately I was able to export my posts, comments and links to WordPress.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 27, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

      • I was referring to yuwie where I had a strong Christian profile and enjoyed many long but polite and respectful debates with atheists, agnostics and wiccans – and became friends with a number of them. In fact, in SOME ways their way of life could be a challenge to Christians.

        My profile is still at yuwie but I hardly ever visit there. I also enjoy polite debates with non-believers at myLot which is a discussion site. I am known as cloudwatcher at both sites.

        Comment by meetingintheclouds — October 27, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

  2. I have been a “bad ” blogger, beginning a few and falling away. Your ongoing commitment is amazing to me. I tried no moderation and ended up overflowing with online discussions within my blog but not always about my blog …I enjoy your links on Wed. but I am guilty of not clicking on them to visit the sites. I keep forgetting that you can track things like that!

    Comment by Cynthia — October 27, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  3. couldn’t agree more, paul. people outside the church (at least the ones i speak with) are dying to be heard, and they think (with good reason) that the church is just not interested.

    fyi: at the church i lead, q&a is s.o.p.

    Comment by randy morgan — October 28, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    • And I think having Q&A as SOP is AOK.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 28, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

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