This isn’t the definitive word on blogging about Collegiate Ministry… far from it. There are plenty of people who could share much more on blogging methods. These are just a few thoughts that, for the most part, arise from my very unique experiences exploring our field.
In any case, a friend recently emailed me about starting a new blog for college ministers. He asked for pointers, and this is an edited version of my response to him!
Define (and narrow) the audience. Like anyone, you probably have many topics you’d enjoy writing about (personal growth, doctrinal ideas, college ministry practice, family updates, etc.). For instance, I’ve seen several college ministers try to maintain a blog that discusses their recent ministry accomplishments AND shares good college ministry methods.
But this is an example of writing for two different audiences (friends, family, supporters on the one hand; other college ministers on the other hand). Most financial supporters don’t care to read about “How to Recruit Freshmen,” and – like it or not – a college minister who’s never met you won’t tune in to see how many people came to your Large Group Meeting each week.
When you define (and narrow) your blog audience, your writing will be more focused – and readers will come back, because they know you’re writing for them.
Post regularly. Consistency seems pretty key. If people don’t know they can expect to see something, they’ll probably stop coming back.
Know what you know, and learn more. For anybody that sets out to teach others, remember that we really are (and really should be) “judged more strictly.”
It’s good for ALL of us to be very humble. In college ministry especially, the mission fields and ministries are very different from each other – even if you personally haven’t experienced that reality. So if a writer only presents Campus Crusade tools, Navigators stuff, Max Barnett theories, church-based ministry ideas, or what they’ve learned from only one region (or only one ministry position), then they probably aren’t helping the diverse audience they think they are.
Fortunately, we can learn more. If you’re not occasionally attending gatherings or conferences outside your circles, you can start. You can read blogs. You can visit other college ministers. You can blog alongside others in a Team Blog format, providing a collection of viewpoints instead of just yours.
Evaluate your own methods fairly. Definitely, share your ministry’s successes and what has worked well. But be sure to recognize that your climate is unique, and so is the particular situation you ended up in. Write like that’s a reality.
I recently met with a church guy down here who talked about how their college ministry grew largely as a result of another big church ministry moving their gathering from Sunday mornings to Wednesday nights. It was refreshing to hear someone recognize the role “outside forces” played in their own success.
So that’s one example of deeper thinking about what we’ve seen and done: There’s a lot of sociology that affects our ministries, even though the Lord is (obviously) sovereign in it all. And there are clearly other important factors, too. So as you write, make sure you’re accounting for all possible factors as you share your successes (and your failures!).
Read Brian Barela for much more. He’s certainly the best I’ve seen on using social media for college ministry well. It looks like his original stuff at crublogging.com isn’t being updated anymore, but I’d start there. And his site is at brianbarela.com. (I also noted his blog comes up on the first Google page when I searched “Kony 2012” today, so that’s pretty high profile blogging, for sure.)