When you saw the title of this post, what went through your mind?
- I’m already too busy.
- What would I write about?
- Who would read it?
- I have no idea where to start.
- You’ve got to be kidding!
You’re not alone. Those are all common responses. Many of us have the experience of the forgotten blog somewhere in the internet, so some of us feel timid or even aghast at the idea of starting one for a church.
All the same, you should absolutely have a church blog.
There are many reasons to have a church blog and we will get into those reasons, but a wise man told me once, “Tell people how to do something so that it doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming . . . then tell them why they should do it.”
I think I’ll take his advice.
What’s Really Involved in Starting Your Church Blog
There are five main things to keep in mind when you start your church’s blog.
1. A Page
Create a web page for your blog. You already have a website (I hope). Simply create a new page and title it. It can be as simple as “(Our Church Name) Blog.” Change whatever settings you need to change on your dashboard so your theme knows you have a blog now. And you’re done. Don’t worry about fancy graphics or features. You can always add those later.
2. A Purpose
Know the purpose of your blog, who you are writing to, and what is going to be written. For instance:
Purpose Statement for First Lutheran Church’s Blog
- Why we have the blog: To show the life of the congregation through blog posts that are educational, informative, and catechetical—that rejoice in our life together and allow others outside the congregation to see what matters to us.
- Who it’s for: Members of the church. A great technique is to make up a person who typifies members of your congregation. Then, when you write, write to that person. (This is called creating an avatar.) Some writers find this easier than others do. Of course, visitors will read it, too, but focus on your members. We’re providing a window into the church.
- What we are going to write: Know what topics you’re going to write about. A good church blog is generally not just a pastor’s blog—though he should be one of the writers (and being one of a few writers will lessen the burden on him because you know he’s thinking he’s going to have to do it all).
- Write about what matters to the congregation: Worship, theology, ministries, outreach, the community, church activities, etc. The specifics can be put into a content calendar.
Unlike with personal blogs, it’s a good idea to plan ahead of time what you are going to write. Pay attention to what is going on in the regular calendar or the liturgical calendar. It would really be a shame to post an article on the history of “Abide with Me” on October 28 with Reformation Day and All Saints’ Day only three days away—but what a great thing to post about on another day.
Yes, I said writers. If you want to ease the burden, spread it out. It is less arduous if there are three or four writers who are each willing to write a 1,200-word (or so) blog post every month or so.
As I said before, the pastor should be one of the writers. People reading the blog should hear his voice, and a blog is an excellent tool for teaching and catechizing the flock throughout the week.
The blog’s purpose should guide your writers. A church blog should be an agent of peace, learning, and information-sharing—a way of engaging the fellowship of all believers on other days besides Sunday. It shouldn’t be a venue for controversial opinions and strife.
4. An Editor or Moderator
Since editors are good writers, one of the writers can take this on. An editor double checks for typos and grammar, formats the posts so they can be easily read, and maintains the voice of the blog—ensuring posts hold to the blog’s purpose.
Set your comments to be moderated—spammers and trolls do like a church blog, steering conversations in (ahem) difficult directions. Members can do this, too. Check the blog regularly—approve good comments, and delete the ones that stir up confusion and contention.
(Aside: You might not get comments, especially for a while. With social media being easier for centralized communication, discussions on the actual blog don’t happen as much as they used to. Readers may choose to comment in the social media post instead. Or, three months later, you’ll walk by someone whispering to another, “Did you read that post on how Jennifer used Trello to organize this year’s VBS? It changed my life.”)
5. The Support of Church Leaders
When representing the congregation, get the support of the elected leaders. They don’t want to be surprised by this.
So, what you need to establish a church blog is a page, a purpose, a few writers (including one who will serve as an editor and moderator), and the support of the congregational leaders. It’s a process, but it’s doable.
Now we can move on to WHY you should have a church blog.
Why Your Church Should Have a Blog
A blog is a powerful tool for teaching and building relationships, and it shows who you are and what your church is about. By depicting real life in the congregation—addressing issues that matter to the flock—a blog can build up your members and also show potential visitors why they should be at your church.
The articles you write do this in three ways:
1. A blog provides a connection during the week.
While a midweek service is difficult for some members to attend, people get on Facebook or Twitter several times a day. They connect from work, from their phones, or while relaxing in the evening. A good blog post uses that and invites conversation. Come right out and ask people for feedback and stories.
Some topic ideas:
- Teach or catechize on a topic that hasn’t been addressed on Sundays.
- Introduce the readings for the next Sunday (or go deeper into this week’s readings).
- Have a devotion about a hymn.
- Teach about a particular part of the service.
- Talk about important activities or events in the congregation (though beware of letting the blog become simply an announcements page).
- Discuss festival days, commemorations, or famous Lutherans in history (like my favorite, Bill Wambsganss).
- Introduce new members.
- Share recipes from the last chili cook-off.
- Give a review of your district convention.
- Share information and stories about the missionaries your congregation supports.
- Create and share videos from Sunday School.
Give your readers a call to action in the blog post—tell them what you want them to do with the information you’ve just shared.
- “What do you think about this? Share in the comments below or on the Facebook page.”
- “This is what is coming up this Sunday. Join us at 9:00 a.m.”
- “Keep our missionaries in your prayers this week as they travel.”
2. A blog shows the life of the congregation.
Your congregation’s personality comes through in your blog. What matters to you is front and center, and visitors will see that. If you are active in missions, write about missions. If you are involved in your community, work that into the content calendar. How you write about the coming Christmas will reveal a lot about your congregation’s practices and personality.
Don’t forget social media.
- If you’re sharing your blog posts on social media, chances are others are going to visit the blog. Ask members to share, like, and comment on the posts to engage conversation and increase how often the posts show up in the feeds—so more people see them.
- Use hashtags to increase visibility and draw in people from your town.
- WordPress and other platforms can be set to share the post immediately the instant you publish it.
3. An active blog improves your search engine rankings.
Every day, the big search engines send out their bots looking for quality websites to recommend when a relevant search comes up. Those bots aren’t quite sentient enough to determine that your website is awesome and helpful. All they can do is judge whether your website behaves like a website that is awesome and helpful.
Without getting deeply into search engine optimization (SEO), those bots know one thing: awesome and helpful websites change. A blog keeps your site active and changing so that when people go to the internet to find a church to attend, yours will be higher on the page and more likely to be noticed.
Those bots also know that awesome and helpful articles are usually not short. That’s why I mentioned blog posts that are about 1,200 words. You can go longer, but short posts should be the exception. Write quality posts that human beings find interesting, and 1,200 words will come easily. The bots will be happy, too.
Tell Me Your Experiences
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does your congregation have an active blog? Have you seen results from it (if you’ve kept it active for a period of months or longer)? What have you done to make the blog an effective tool for your congregation?
If you haven’t started one yet but are interested, what attracts you to the idea of a church blog? What, if any, obstacles could come up?
Join the conversation as we live-chat with Lora about how your church can make use of a blog.
Thursday, September 6 at 11:30 a.m. (CDT) on Facebook