May 24, 2019

The Distinquished Faculty of the IM School of Blogging

At the Asbury Bloggers Society meeting last night, we had a wide ranging discussion on various aspects of blogging and ministerial formation at the seminary level. One of my suggestions was that a blogger develop a list of “teaching” blogs that exhibit and demonstrate excellence. Use these blogs to ask yourself questions about your own blogging and to develop some idea of what kind of blog will be effective in your own particular vision of blogging. Let these blogs be your teachers as you undertake blogging as part of your ministry or personal spiritual formation.

Of course, I was asked to put forward my own list of blogs that amount to a “School of Good Blogging.” So here’s the faculty. Sign up for the classes.

NOTE: I appreciate the blogs, not necessarily the content, theology or commentary of the blogger.

1. Tall Skinny Kiwi– Is there a better blog to model everything we all like about blogging? Andrew blogs his life without going into cat pictures. He blogs ministry, important ideas, and contemporary developments in evangelicalism with equal ease. It’s a visually interesting blog that makes all of us consider what a comprehensively interesting blog should be. At Andrew’s blog everything is in balance and familiar, but also constantly changing and fresh.

2. The Jesus Creed– Here’s a world class New Testament scholar who fully enters into the blogosphere discussion. The master of the short post and a model of gracious conversation, Jesus Creed is the model of a simple, but constantly and constructively engaged, blog. You’re looking at a blogger who knows how a blog can expand his ministry and serve the body of Christ. A model blogger for you to emulate if you’re serious.

3. Bob Kauflin’s Worship Matters– Worship Matters picks one area of Christian experience- corporate worship- and explores it with consistently original excellence and sensitivity. When bloggers grow up, they want to be like Bob Kauflin. From Kauflin you can learn how valuable it is to find one niche and to mine it to new levels. Keep at that one topic until you are THE place to go.

4. Tim Challies– Challies simply does all kinds of things right. He’s graphically and verbally gifted, but he’s a hard worker who never attempts anything that he won’t do well. You don’t read Challies for car chases and explosions, but when you want to see the “true north” of blog maturity, he’s your one stop classroom. His blog looks good, has proper bells and buzzers, models humility, provides interesting content, has a point of view and takes the reader seriously. His blog is a test case of what blogging is supposed to be all about.

5. Charlotte Was Both– Amy Welborn, much like Andrew Jones, brings together life, punditry and commentary with an abundance of links and generous excerpts. Amy is a one person newsroom on contemporary American Catholicism. If good blogging is good writing AND good editing, then Amy has a great blog. She shows you why real journalists are afraid of great blogs.

6. teampyro– Group blogging is generally mediocre blogging. It seldom coheres into something that has a personality and a consistent quality and point of view. Teampyro has modest group blog ambitions- three writers- but a point of view coherent enough that “teampyro” means something predictable. The weekly routine seldom varies and the audience feels at home. It’s also a great example of what can still be done with blogger.com and how the right graphics can a blog exceptional. Anyone attempting the group blog project should discuss why this blog has been so successful.

7. Jared Wilson’s Gospel Driven Church– He has something worth saying, and he writes it well. Bottom line: Say something or don’t blog. There isn’t much more to ask from this kind of blog. You have the heart and passion of the man and you know you are in a process that matters. This is blogger-becoming-writer; a voice you’ll be hearing in the blogosphere and elsewhere.

8. Letters from Kamp Krusty– Writing of a different type. Don’t be fooled by what looks like all that wit appearing out of nowhere. Brant is an exceptional writer and you are pulled into something that’s much more than comedy. This is someone who is redrawing the map of his own Christianity and exploding some gaseous balloons along the way. How can a simple blog be interesting? With edgy, original, risky, on-target commentary and content, this is a blog that can teach you to go places other blogs don’t go.

9. Joe Thorn– Despite the fact that he changes the look too often and blogs too seldom, Joe models outstanding pastoral blogging. Joe’s blog has that kind of symbiotic connection to the man and his own journey that makes it interesting to read without wasting your time in trivia. Joe’s journey, his ongoing education, his discoveries, his likes/dislikes, his humor, his pastoral seriousness, his family, his art, his personal renovation- they all appear appropriately and in a kind of Zen balance. Clean, well-done blogging from which you can learn much. (BTW- One of the reason Joe is a good blogger is that he’s ambiguous enough about the time invested to not blog anything that’s useless. His pitches count.)

10. Alan Creech– Alan is a web designer- as is Challies- who has a clean, simple sense of uniting his blog’s look, content and feel. His blogging voice is very personal. He shows you the most ordinary things, but he also shows you what the contemplative looks like in the surburban world. This is a blog that creates spiritual art and invites you to your own spiritual journey. Alan is a teacher, and there is a lot to learn from this fine blog for those who want a personal site to be a frequent stop-over.

Don’t let those RSS readers keep you from visiting great blogs and learning why they work. Our little hobby is more than content delivery. It’s presentation, art and communication on multiple levels. There is lots to learn and I hope you continue to be a student.

OK. Your turn. Whose blog and blogging have something to teach other bloggers. Skip the theological team sports and cheers for your side. Who blogs well?

Comments

  1. Michael, you flatter and encourage me.

    Tit for tat (and you know this isn’t the first time I’ve said this): I read a lot of blogs and consider a lot of blogs “important,” but yours is the only one I consider indispensable.
    Nobody writes like you and says what you’re saying the way you’re saying it and from the place you’re saying it; the folks at Asbury were blessed to have you yesterday.

    Whose blogs are constructively instructive?
    On top of seconding most of your recommendations, the two I return to again and again and profit from even when I (occasionally) disagree are Trevin Wax’s Kingdom People and Shaun Groves’s Shlog.

  2. I have long enjoyed Gordon Atkinson’s “Real Live Preacher”. He is a wonderful writer, and has developed quite a following. It’s got a nice look with unique artwork and he’s experimenting with subscription services to help fund the blog.

  3. Michael,

    Many thanks for your kind comments, and I second Jared: you’ve got a model blog yourself.

  4. Joe Thorn recently posted a video of a voicemail I left him on which I was singing in a funny voice. That post was ALMOST useless.

  5. I thought it was one of his best. It really changed my life.

    Are you at T4G?

  6. Thanks for the link up Michael. I’m honored to be on your list there. Many more may now share in my mild mental illness. 🙂

    I’ve always appreciated connecting with people through the blogosphere. I’ve made some friends through this venue. One of those is Paul Fromont from New Zealand. He’s a great guy – thinks and blogs a lot about the Church, liturgy, prayer, etc. He and Alan Jamieson blog together as the Prodigal Kiwis. Check my mate out for sure.

    Of course I knew my friend Kyle Potter before he even had a blog. And yes, I designed his blog and helped him get it started and Captain Sacrament was born! Lord help us! Kyle’s a real live theologian and as smart as they come. He definitely has a way with words – always entertaining, always something to think about.

    I read several blogs and there are definitely more good ones out there, these are just two I thought of tonight. Peace to you.

  7. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the list. My favourite bloggers are yourself, and Darrell Pursiful and http://www.pursiful.com. I find him witty, frequent, interesting and challenging.

  8. Others I would include:
    Dan Kimball- Encourager, showing a global movement on a very local level.
    Steve McCoy- variety, humor, struggles (although hopes he goes back to a little more theological/ministry posts).
    C Michael Patton- one to watch/up and comer.
    Keith Drury- wise, thought provoking, but very simple design.

  9. I don’t read all that many blogs, but here are three that are exceptionally good and are updated almost daily:

    Cranach (www.geneveith.com) — always well-written, and good cultural analysis.

    Cyberbrethren (cyberbrethren.typepad.com) — confessional Lutheranism, and I’m not even Lutheran.

    Plus The Internet Monk, of course.

  10. Uh, IMonk, the pic with this posting doesn’t have anything to do with that Ben Stein/YEC flick Expelled! that’s starting to hit the TV ad circuit, does it?

  11. Richard C says

    Lately I’ve really enjoyed Abraham Piper’s short posts at 22 Wordshttp://twentytwowords.com/

    Ben Witherington III is always interesting – http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/

    RLP is a frequent stop. Sometimes I cringe but I’m often quite edified – http://www.reallivepreacher.com/

    Now for something completely different there is The Joy of Sox, a baseball/Red Sox blog. I stop there daily during the season – http://joyofsox.blogspot.com/

  12. Dr. Gene Edward Veith’s blog, Cranach, is one of the best I know of. What he does best is encourage his readers to see how Christianity, culture and vocation tie together. I have been challenged, strengthened and enlightened by his blog posts and the ensuing discussions.

    Located at: http://www.geneveith.com/

  13. I started reading your stuff back before it was even a blog, when I was in high school, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I agree with Jared; your blog is indispensable. But I would add that so is Jared’s.

    a few others:

    Desiring God Blog: I don’t necessarily appreciate some of the other authors, but John Piper’s posts are usually very brief, to-the-point snippets that can be read in under a minute. I wish that other well known authors/speakers/preachers/pastors would take time to do that.

    Crummy Church Signs: when it comes to humor blogs focused on an extremely specific topic, you can’t get any better than this…

  14. I’m not at T4G.

    Rick has a GREAT list in his comments. 🙂 By the way, I’m starting a series of posts about changes happening in my church, so look for that Rick. I’ve had some reasons for avoiding such topics for a while.

  15. Let me add the list of blogs I check every day and read every post. Though I follow a couple hundred blogs on Google Reader, these have my ear whenever they speak, and even when I disagree. They are all church practitioners: elders, planters.

    1. Drew Goodmanson
    2. Jonathan Dodson
    3. Tim Chester
    4. Jeremy Prior
    5. Joe Thorn

  16. I guess I don’t have much to add.

    Favorite is probably IM here, if only for the sanity and grace orientation.

    In different directions, Krusty and RLP both have challenging, well written, and very human (at times very funny) blogs.

    My own inspiration has been The Life and Opinions of Andrew Rilstone, for probably the opposite of your reasons. It taught me that odd literary/social criticism, in-depth analysis of Dr. Who, and discussions of how C.S. Lewis might feel about torture in war can find a home on one readable (and read) website.

    I find Rilstone’s site has probably encouraged “bad habbits” in me–use of obscure terminology, unconcern with the generic “consistency” of entries, &c. At the same time I realized I could blog “poorly,” still engage in sometimes-helpful dialog, and not take up too much “real life” time.

  17. One of my favorite blogs is grantenglish.com

    He’s a youth pastor in Colorado. Good writer who chronicles his life and ministry…with a dash of Denver Broncos football.

  18. I like Michael Patton a lot. A theologically sound and deliberately provocative blog. But he makes sure everything is done irenically.

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