Bloggers are the new Ministers.

I’m sure that is blasphemous to many people, but think about it for a moment. A minister works in the community during the week, at the end of which, they are expected to stand at a pulpit and speak, providing some insight into life, religion and community, that inspires and up builds their congregation. Granted, they have the Bible from which to pull their source material, upon which they build their sermon. Most modern religious leaders however, follow a very loose formula that allows them the freedom to adapt the material directly to their experiences and the needs of the community. Whether a priest, minister, pastor, or some equivalent role in any number of various religions, the concept is basically the same.

Watch any television show or movie with a minister in it and they’ll often talk about their own struggles with faith, challenges finding source material from which to draw inspiration for their sermons and difficulties trying to determine how best to reach their audience, because that’s essentially what a congregation is, an audience. A blogger does the same. They toy with several ideas over the course of a few hours or days, before they start writing an article. Unlike professional journalists who have specific deadlines, as well as additional staff and resources from which to draw their source material, ministers and bloggers alike, have fewer resources at their disposal and probably fewer deadlines.

This is not a perfect comparison of course, because there are millions of online resources from which religious leaders can draw specific material. Christianity has had two thousand years of practice at this, after all. So, there are plenty of generic sermons from which a minister can pull; but for original, non-formulaic material, I imagine they prefer to rely on their own insights into their congregation and its perceived needs, and that requires them to essentially write new material, every week.

A blogger can also spend hours online, reading about anything they find of interest before they decide on a topic. If they have a specific target audience, their source material becomes much more focused and maybe a bit more formulaic. For others, who choose to write whatever comes to mind, with few tangible connections between each article, the ideas are endless. Something just needs to catch the author’s interest before they begin.

I fall into this latter category. I don’t write as much for others as I do myself. I enjoy writing. I want to leave a digital legacy of sorts, for myself and my family to reflect upon. If others enjoy what I’ve written, then so be it and I’m flattered, but my blog is more of a public journal, than a repository of knowledge on one particular set of topics. I find the process therapeutic.

Many times in the past, I have started writing blogs, but always gave up, deleted them and started over. I couldn’t find my stride, because I couldn’t find the purpose and wasn’t comfortable with my reasons or the material about which I was writing. Only recently did I abandon the notion that I was writing for others more than I was myself.

I read plenty of so-called expert opinions about blogging, but they all had one thing in common. The bloggers were writing about how to be a successful blogger. They talked about monetizing their hobby, making it a business, maximizing readership and creating the most professional image possible. It was then that the light turned on for me. I was struggling to write and feel comfortable with consistent blogging, because I thought that’s what I was trying to accomplish, but it wasn’t. I want to write a blog, because the process is fun.

Sermons are similar. Ministers want to maximize the interest of their congregation and the impact their material has on the lives of the people in their keeping. I’m not going to sink to comparing religions to businesses, because that’s disrespectful. Ministers however, who are struggling with their faith or focus, can often suffer the same type of writer’s block that an author does. So, in that regard, the comparison is still relevant.

Once I realized that I wasn’t trying make a business out of my blog, I reexamined my approach. Did I want to become famous blogging? No. Did I want to be restricted in what I write, by focusing on the same set of topics every week? Definitely not. Did I care how large my audience was? Not really, no. While I certainly don’t mind when someone enjoys what I’ve written, that isn’t the central focus. Once I came to terms with that idea, once I shed those restrictions from my writing, the process became much easier.

Ministers who are comfortable with their faith will often say that they enjoy writing their sermons, speaking to their congregations, expressing their love and faith and sharing it with others. People who enjoy blogging, do very much the same thing. They write as a form of creative release. The process should be enjoyable from start to finish and the message will hopefully, reach someone in their audience in the same way. It would be cliché to say that it’s a religious experience, but it can certainly be rewarding.

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