Saturday, February 04, 2006

is blogging worth it?

Over my January holidays I contemplated shutting down this blog. I had started emergentkiwi to experiment with on-line community. In the early days of this blog (back in 2002-3) it felt like there was a lot of community; lots of comments, through which I learnt heaps.

Over the last year, it felt less and less like a community space. Visitor numbers tracked up, but the sense of interaction on-blog and through e-mail declined. At times I wondered if this was now a consumer space, rather than a community space. Did I need to change the way I posted in some way? It takes time and money to run a blog. I have always resisted the idea of advertising as alien to a “community” sight. But if more and more visitors are just consuming, why not?


Two weeks into my January holiday a parcel arrived, posted from the UK. With a card; thanking me for the blog and noting that I had made a post asking for input regarding spiritual practices that might help a cafe. Near 100 people had visited the post. Four had commented. I had found that depressing.

And a book, titled Church Cafes. Explored and Celebrated. (Order here). A really interesting survey of 100’s of cafes around UK.

So I’m back blogging for another season. I’m still concerned about the balance between community and consumerism and still pondering the time and effort of a blog. But I’m feeling a little less “consumed.” Thanks J. (you know who you are).

Posted by steve at 06:08 PM


  1. Steve,

    Your comments are fair ones to ponder. I do the same about my post but yours was an inspiration to me for mine. It helped me know what to be as much as what not to become. And how to keep focus rather then become a forum for people to just fight (like Out of Ur has quickly become). Also, without sites like this a lot of us can’t find one another as easily in a more fluid environment such as this where networks are often more manipulated and image driven for the consumer. I’m raving on now so let me conclude with something that reflects why I don’t post on your site more often then I do. I just find that the nature of a lot of your posts are not necssary to comment on. They show what your church is doing, a paper you’ve written, where you’ve been, etc, which you don’t need my comments about! I read and learn, but don’t take the lack of comments to mean that I am not interacting. thanks Andrew

    Comment by Andrew — February 4, 2006 @ 7:10 pm

  2. Steve:

    So you blog because it creates community? That’s cool and if so, I can see why you may think the pay back is not worth the effort. I am more self-centered than that. I blog like I worship, preach, lead small group, etc.. That is, it’s more for me and God and I hope/pray that others tumble into it.

    As I read, meditate, grow, … I wanted a way to capture and clarify my thoughts. I started thinking a private journal was the answer but then I realized that others may benefit from my journey.

    So yes it takes too much time. But then I realize that is because I am trying to write for others. I am writing for me to grow closer to God. I need to remember that. Then all that I write is good. And if I write nothing, that’s also ok. And if in the process someone else benefits or even better, contributes – GREAT!

    But if I was writing for others as I perceive you are, I’d give up. It seems to be a lot of effort.

    Comment by Rick Ianniello — February 4, 2006 @ 7:32 pm

  3. Steve,
    I am a great fan of your blog. As I have commented elsewhere that your insights and practice have helped me tremendously. Sorry if I have never said “Thank you”. I do appreciate it.

    Reflections on what you are doing, sermons you have preached, groups you have started have all been helpful. Public journaling like that may not generate many comments but it is helpful for those of us that read it. However having said that, we are all aware of how busy and demanding life can be, if blogging has become a chore it is probably time to either quit or re-imagine it.

    I wouldn’t see adverts as a “sin” or turning it into a consumer place, we all know blogs have to be paid for. But then, I just added adverts to mine to try and pay for it!

    Thanks again.

    Comment by Graham Doel — February 4, 2006 @ 8:19 pm

  4. Greetings~

    I have greatly appreciated your writings, though I have rarely commented. Blogging takes time: thinking about posts, writing, reading, commenting. Oftentimes folks just don’t have time: I find myself skimming and agreeing, but because I haven’t put in the thought and time that the author has, I don’t have much to add. I might, however, pick up on themes that I’ve seen in the blogosphere (consciously or not) and incorporate them into my own posts.

    Who creates good community that I’ve seen? Mamabloggers: but they write about their daily lives . . . well: daily. And it’s easy to comment on what they’re going through, because most of their readers are going through the same thing or have “been there/done that”. Knitterbloggers have a great community as well: folks cheering all the way as they work to complete projects.

    I get discouraged just like you: but then I, too, must evaluate why I blog. When I hear a person come up to me in church who I don’t really know but says, “I really appreciate what you wrote the other day. I was talking about it with my wife . . . ” I realize that it does lend to a community aspect, whether I have the privelege of partaking or not.

    Thanks for writing and questioning and being transparent: you are appreciated.

    Comment by Aj — February 5, 2006 @ 5:40 am

  5. Steve –

    I read pretty much every post you put up… but I don’t tend to comment much. I guess I’m shy. But I do appreciate what you have to say! I especially listen to your comments on how you are transitioning an older, traditional congregation/denomination to one that holds missional values. That’s what I’m dealing with every day as a 20something pastor in a church whose average age is 65 in a denomination in crisis.

    Thanks for continuing on.

    Comment by Matt — February 5, 2006 @ 6:12 am

  6. Steve~
    I’m alot like Matt…reading but not commenting. Good words you said today…like a good sucker punch. Thanks for the “consumer” wake up. I think alot of us needed it.

    Comment by jim — February 5, 2006 @ 8:19 am

  7. Just out of interest did the focus of the blog change over time or the way you wrote change? Did you post more “closed” posts than “open” ones? Maybe a quick survey of the past few years would show a trend?

    I’ve also wondered that with the ever increasing number of blogs people have available to read, coupled with things like RSS readers that don’t tend to show comments (or how active a thread/post is with comments), then incentives to comment are less. Could the decrease in comments be correlated with increasing traffic on your RSS feed?

    Just thinking out loud.

    Comment by Stephen Garner — February 5, 2006 @ 3:22 pm

  8. Steve, I for one am pleased you will be continuing. I have a great deal of gratitude for blogging, for the sense of community, for the sense of connection it enables, and the possiblity of incarnation that it offers.

    Comment by Paul Fromont — February 5, 2006 @ 7:30 pm

  9. Appreciate all the comments.

    Rick – I not only blog, but also maintain a private written journal. That for me is where my God-writing goes. I am not sure that I am saying that I blog for others. Rather, as I express in a more recent post – — I blog out of surplus and that surplus can run dry.

    Stephen – yes I do think technology has changed and sometimes I wonder if the advent of RSS feeds actually harms blogging both because it rips a blog post out of context and also because it decreases feedback loops. As to whether my posts have change … I don’t know … and I’m not sure I want to content analyse myself!

    Comment by steve — February 5, 2006 @ 10:06 pm

  10. i wonder how much the community and comments have alteres as others have also started to blog and in turn have started to make their comments on their own blogs rather than on comments…

    Anthow, whenever you feel alone in blogging just email me n I’ll send over a tone of comments…

    btw, mailed application in for that gig in chch, and am waiting on a response…

    Comment by darren — February 6, 2006 @ 1:15 am

  11. I agree with Darren. If i read something in your blog or another blog and i have a strong opinion on it i tend to write a blog about it, if it doesn’t really ‘float my boat’ then i don’t bother commenting because i’m not interested in the subject. At any rate i think you should continue blogging.

    Comment by Rayd — February 6, 2006 @ 4:59 pm

  12. Brother… Please keep going… You are an inspiration to me – I wouldn’t know about Freeway if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t be in contact with Paul T from Edinburgh if you hadn’t pointed me in his direction

    You are a connector and that’s important. Keep going – you are doing the Lord’s work!

    Peace and love from Motherwell, Scotland


    Comment by Thomas — February 8, 2006 @ 10:01 am

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