Conversation, Striptease & Fishing – how to blog for beginners

Hey, good news, good news. Malcolm Round has started a blog. Malcolm is the Rector of St Mungo’s, Balerno. I know he has been fascinated by the online blogging thing for a while and I’m delighted to see him having a go himself. Away you all go and read his stuff and leave him a……… ooops, you can’t. Malcolm is not allowing comments. Yet.

All of which makes me think about what I’ve learned about blogging since I started. Like any preacher worth her salt, I can sum that up in three words: Conversation, Striptease and Fishing. If I was a certain sort of preacher, there would be alliteration and they would all begin with the same letter. If I was even more of that kind of a preacher, I’d have made then rhyme. Oh well, I’ve peaked your interest enough with one of the words to get you interested enough to keep paying attention anyway. (For Malcolm, that word is fishing, we know what the rest of you are reading on for).

By far the most important thing I’ve learned about blogging is that at its best it is a conversation. It might sometimes be a conversation about silly things and it might sometimes be profound, but that’s the nature of conversation anyway. My strong advice to any new blogger is to read blogs you like and enter into conversation on them. Go on. Lose your inhibitions. Post a comment. If I remember rightly, the ratio of readers to commenters is about 1 to 100. Be the one in a hundred who joins in. If you can, be the one in a thousand who entertains, but don’t get hung up on that at first. I’d say to Malcolm, go on, open yourself up to comments. People will admire you for making yourself vulnerable and they will learn a lot about you by the way you answer them. Oh yes, answering them is so important. Its a conversation, as I said. If it were not for the comments posted on this blog, I’m sure I couldn’t be bothered.

Oh, I know one worries about inappropriate comments. That’s one reason why I don’t have my blog and the church website intertwined. I’d rather have a relatively open conversation and not be too worried about that having the official imprimatur of the church. Notwithstanding that, blogging is a part of my ministry, and I don’t tolerate things on my blog which will threaten my life at work. I’m boss of my blog, after all. I’ve only ever had to permanently block two people, I think. One of them just wanted to keep on telling me about substitutionary atonement and could not accept that I did indeed understand it and I did not, indeed, believe it. The other was posting comments about other clergy which I was not prepared to host. When I block people, I see their comments no more, no more. But sweeter to me are the comments that amuse and entertain and enlighten and argue and gently rebuke and sweetest of all, those who make me wonder at this world and those who walk in it.

Never forget that verse from the book of Proverbs:

“How blessed is the bishop who blogs and how much more blessed is the bishops who allows comments and answers them”.

(My own translation).

Make no mistake, blogging is the modern version of the Dance of the Seven Veils. Like Salome of old, when one begins a blog, one skips out into centre stage with a twinkle in your eye. People want to know what you are like. People want to know what you believe. And people are gagging for what you might say or do next. And oh how vulnerable you are. Should you be pompous or vain or vainglorious, it will all come out in the end.

But we live in a what you see is what you get culture. People want to know the real you. They want authenticity. (So give them a version of the real you that they can believe in).

To blog well is to reveal. But oh so slowly does it. You don’t need to say it all in one blog post any more than I need to say it all in one sermon. (Oh, you can find Malcolm’s sermons too, whilst you are looking at his blog).

Oh yes, you are fishing. Whether you work for a company, a church, a charity or are just engaged in a little innocent attention seeking, when you blog you are fishing. You are fishing for people. Throwing them bait to keep their interest. Tempting them with little hooks in your blog post to make their own contribution. Teasing them. Beguiling them. Keep going and they will one day take what you offer and then very gently you can begin to reel them in.

You might have to sit in the rain brooding sometimes. There will be whole seasons when you can’t see the point. The great catch eludes you. You seem to have put all the effort in and seem to be getting nothing but cold rain dripping down your neck for your pains.

Weary or not, all you can do is try again. Keep going. The patient are rewarded by grace abounding.

Its fishing sure enough, and Someone, if I remember rightly, once linked fishing with mission.

Oh, and by the way, if you are fishing, you need to know your kit. Malcolm’s blog is hosted on lovely WordPress. I’d strongly suggest that he gets his techy guys to sort him out with a proper rss feed. Rss is the way all the most sensible readers read blogs and you need something that is easy to use. At the moment, Malcolm’s RSS feed is and that ain’t pretty and it ainit immediately obvious to anyone using the site.

More on rss feeds another day. Today’s all about blogging. Any tips anyone else wants to add?


  1. Rosemary Hannah says

    I rarely read blogs where I cannot comment – and yes I am a chatterbox on line as well as in real life.

    I blog because there are things I long to share – which is not to say they are things others long to read. I do sometimes wonder what others make of a mix of family weddings, current church controversies, sheep keeping and hairdressers.

    I can’t do strip tease – the most I can manage is keeping a one piece bathing costume on. (There is a dated phrase for you!)

    I do so wish there was more conversation on my blog. I know how many daily hits I get, but am not sure how many readers that equates to – more than I used to preach to, that is for sure.

    I am heartened by how many who do not have strong church connections read your blog, Kelvin, mine and Kimberly’s.

    But more than anything else I want to show that Christianity is a part of the lives of ordinary people, who have sheep and hairdressers (you don’t have both – you don’t have a hairdresser??) and do not, not subscribe to every idiocy believed by extremists on either side.

  2. I rarely comment on blogs, but perhaps you’re right and it’s part of the experience, to conect and open up. I enjoy your blog since I found it, the first church leader’s blog I’ve come accross. It often seems some church people just don’t use this medium, which just cuts them off further from the world many of us live in. Your refeshing view on topics also makes it a must go to.

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