Why I talk about the things I do

Photo by Harry Cunningham @harry.digital on Pexels.com

I occasionally speak to people who are thinking about giving some form of blogging a try -either a written blog like this or some form of podcast or vlog (video blog) on You Tube.  I thought it might be helpful for those of you considering this if I were to talk about why I blog and how I approach it before sharing some suggestions and tips for blogging.

First, a little bit of background.  Personally, I find it helpful to think things through on paper.  I’m an external processer and so if I’m not jotting things down, I’m talking to other people.  It’s the way my brain works. So, back before the days of the internet, I’d get a pad of paper and start writing. I did experiment with a blog back in 2006 whilst at Theological College, though that didn’t last.

Then, a few years back, I thought that there might be some benefits to providing something extra, primarily for members of the church I was pastoring at.  I recognised that you simply cannot cover everything that you might want to cover in a 30 minute Sunday morning sermon, or even with a morning and evening sermon and midweek Bible study.  Faithroots started life as an opportunity for members of the church family to start digging deeper together.

After a little while, I noticed two thing, first that the blog was more likely to be read by people not connected to our church or context.  It simply did not engage or help our church family.  Secondly, that people were more likely to read articles that dealt with controversy than the stuff to do with theology, pastoral care and Bible study.  Neither of those things were wrong in and of themselves but they just weren’t my priority.   I was also aware that blogging could become addictive for me and so I decided to stop blogging. I could, if I wanted include additional resources via the church newsletter and website.

In 2020, the Global pandemic struck and we realised that because of various lockdowns and restrictions that face to face meeting was going to be impossible and then very difficult.  So, like other churches, we quickly ramped up our online provision with services and daily broadcasts via Facebook and Zoom.  It seemed again that Faithroots might have a place in that as an online teaching and training hub. 

As well as thinking about the kinds of things our church family might need and how these might be of interest to a wider audience, I also wanted to develop resources to support and equip those looking for ministry training, especially for those looking to eventually plant churches in urban contexts. 

Recognising that not everyone who wanted to engage, would want to do so by reading and also benefitting from being able to try different things through the pandemic, I decided to try providing videos as well, especially as we began to move away from live content. I found that videos didn’t have quite the level of traction I expected.  Then I started providing audio content, a type of podcast and discovered that a lot more people seemed to want to listen than either read or watch.  I suspect that this is because people often tune in whilst doing other things like driving or exercising and so having something to listen to whilst doing those things is helpful.

That’s the story behind how Faithroots has developed.  So, how do I decide what to write and talk about.  Well, the nature of the site is slightly different from your classical blog.  I’m not just blogging, although I do blog and some of the content is simply about me finding somewhere to keep a log of my thought process rather the aim is to provide an online training platform. This means that Faithroots isn’t just a hobby, as many blogs are, it’s a tool for the particular ministry I’m called to at the moment of seeking to find people willing to give urban planting a go and to train and equip them.  This also means that  my output is much higher than you would expect from a normal blog and I wouldn’t encourage you to attempt to match it. Usually, I’m able to include a couple of articles per day and a podcast on a weekly basis.  These are offering different types of resources and enable me to cover a range of needs including Bible teaching and devotionals, systematic theology, Biblical studies, pastoral advice and leadership training.

I do also pick up on current affairs and issues affecting the church but also wider issues including politics and cultural issues.  I try not to be party political but it is also good to be transparent about where we are coming from. Politically, I’d describe myself as leaning centre right on economic issues, I think that people do better with free markets and low taxes.  However, I believe that Christians should have strong commitments to the poor and vulnerable including immigrants and asylum seekers and so some of my views may have surprised readers and listeners at times.

Why do I pick up on those kinds of issues?  Well, there are a few reasons. First, I simply think there is benefit in writing about what I’m interested in.  It means I can use the blog for that purpose of processing my thoughts. It also, hopefully helps you as a reader to get to know me better as a person.  Secondly, I do want to be talking about the kinds of things that are of interest to others. The bread and butter of Faithroots is the theological and pastoral training material but I also want to build up an audience so that from that audience we can find people particularly interested in church planting.

Finally, I write about topical issues because I believe that it is good for us as Christians to engage with the wider world, with culture, politics, economics, health care etc. There’s a category of theology called “Public Theology” which is often neglected but is really about how we think with a Christian worldview about the world around us.  One of my aims is to encourage Christian thinking about the wider world we inhabit.

This should give you a feel for how I’ve arrived at the point I have in terms of what I cover on Faithroots.  I would encourage potential podcasters and bloggers to start by thinking not just about what they want to cover but why they want to cover it.

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