The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey with Terry Storch (both of Fellowship Church at the time of the book’s writing) could be subtitled “Rules for the Revolution”. Its pages are filled with the who, where, why, and how of blogging. It presents a balanced view of the technology, obviously encouraging blogging, but in certain circumstances actually discouraging it. Bailey and Storch provide questions that an aspiring blogger should ask to cut through the “cool” factor of this technology and see whether motivations are misguided or not.
After each of the chapters, Bailey and Storch provide interviews with recognized bloggers. Among these are senior pastors, church staff, and lay people alike. Each person provides key insight into the purpose and scope of blogging. One advocates the use of comments as absolutely necessary. The next will make a case for excluding them altogether. It is this dialog between people that adds weight to the discussion.
Bailey and Storch also add much to the discussion in their own right. As two avid bloggers, they report facts which many long-time bloggers know and new bloggers have yet to learn. Sections like “Fighting Comment Spam” and “More Posts Equal More Traffic” contain lessons that bloggers (and web masters in general) can learn from.
The humor and conversational writing style of this book make it quite an easy read. I especially enjoyed the chapter entitled, “Build a Bad Blog”. Sometimes it’s easier to show how to do something by showing how not to do it. Sections like “Avoid Ownership” or “Use the Same Great Content You Have Elsewhere”, effectively illustrate things you should avoid to make your blog better. As a result of this chapter, the way in which I blogged improved. This book is filled with subtle tweaks that help turn a good blog into a great one.
Although it does discuss some technical details like RSS, blogging engines and services, this is not a book filled with step-by-step technical “how-to’s” or pages of example code. It is a book providing the “why” behind the “what”. It makes a compelling case that most (but not all) churches should have at least one blog connected to their websites. Their reason is simple: blogging is a tool that solves a specific problem with a true return. Bailey and Storch make the case that blogs are ideal for doing one of the two things that churches were created for—interacting with people and building relationships with them. They illustrate this with the story of the time that Robert Scoble, then a professional blogger for no less than Microsoft, came to visit Fellowship Church at Bailey’s behest from a comment at Scoble’s blog. A relationship formed that continues today.
Bailey and Storch argue that relationships that form from blogging can be internal as well. A pastor can post details from his sermon preparations that were cut due to time constraints. Church staff can write about their personal lives, when they aren’t at church, adding dimension and authenticity to their relationships with people who only know them from their church roles. Within ministry teams, blogging can help with the communication between busy people on the status of projects. These are just some of the possibilities that this technology facilitates.
As I read this book, I found myself upset when interrupted. I wanted to continue reading it, but was sad to come to the end. I wished that there were a sequel ready for me to read. I hope such a book is in the works. Happily, my eager desire to read more by Bailey and Storch is easily satisfied with a quick trip online… to their blogs.