I have been an active and committed blogger since 2005. I have “quit” scores of times (in my mind). I have once or twice spoken about quitting. The sole reason I haven’t is because I meet people who tell me that reading these posts has made a difference in their spiritual journey. If you have found any reason for deeper faith, hope and love through this blog then I give God the thanks and praise.
Recently I thought again about these blogs and my own life and vision. After some careful consideration I am not quitting the blogs but I am changing what I do, how often I do it and what my more narrowly defined purpose will be. My best friend is my wife Anita. We talk about this stuff and she helped me clarify my direction and I do listen to Anita. (By the way, this new photo really captures something of our friendship if you look at it really carefully!)
Each week I write what is called the ACT 3 Weekly. This is available as an email sent by subscription at ACT 3. Just sign up and you will get this each Monday. It was once an article of 1,200-1,600 words. It is now about half that size. I am convinced that all the Internet material we can process requires shorter length, which I've personally found to be much, much better. My present series is on “Faith and the American Culture.” I am addressing the problem of individualism and how it impacts community and unity. Back issues can easily be found on our home page. There is also a convenient place to sign up for the future issues. I put my heart and soul into these articles and they are more carefully written and edited than my blogs. They are also available as podcasts for those who want to hear them. They range from 6-8 minutes a week in time.
As I take stock about my life, mission and time I realize that putting five to seven hours a week into reading, writing and producing seven blogs is just way too much time to spend on this process. I am not working at full strength and this amount of time is more than one day’s work. I need this time to write the more permanent things I do; books, ACT 3 Weekly articles, material for teaching, etc. For this reason I will do the following on this blog site going forward:
1. My posts will not appear every single day. I put myself in this bind and need to get myself out of it.
2. My posts will still include occasional personal items (my friends read these posts and I want to share things with them) and some fun stuff (football, baseball, etc.) but I will use material from other sources more often, both my own material and that of guests. I will tell you about events and useful resources that I find/found helpful. I might comment more on books that I am reading, for example. I tend to jot notes to myself about my reading so sharing these can lead to simple and easy-to-write blogs.
3. I will send up “trial balloons” by journaling some of my ideas that might become more permanent by first putting them here and then by getting comments. This will help me frame things better.
4. I will sync my blogs and facebook page and then use the two more for short, simple observations, etc.
I’m reading a new book, Microstyle (Norton, 2011), by Christopher Johnson. Johnson urges writers to “think big” and “write small.” We live in a 140-character universe, like it or not. I am going to adapt to this while I still write deeper and richer pieces that are more permanent.
The case in point is my forthcoming book, The Unity Factor: One Lord, One Church, One Mission (Grand Rapids: The Christian’s Library Press, 2011). This 52-page book took me several weeks to write and several more to edit. But it is much more permanent and useful than my blogs. It can be read in 30-40 minutes. It will also be available as an e-book and can be readily given away in either format. It will be around and still read months from now when blogs are all but dead and done. I will take this idea and apply it to my ACT 3 Weekly series and several of those will likely become carefully edited and revised books because they have proven to be of more use over time.
So, please keep checking for new blogs but also understand that I am adapting to the times and to my own time and lifestyle. For now this seems reasonable. If I’ve learned one thing about being faithful to your own life’s vision, and God’s specific calling, it is this--everything must change or your work and vision will die. As a writer I want to be a good steward. I think this is the way for me to be that steward right now.
A few simple requests:
1. Pray for me. I love to hear from intercessors who lift me up to the Father because they know me and love me.
2. Keep checking out this blog site. It will not go away. It will simply adapt and change.
3. Pray for my more permanent writing work and please visit ACT 3 and sign up for the weekly articles.
4. I will be making some more video casts and posting these now and then. I made some new ones about our Missional-Ecumenical Leadership Cohort groups this last week. These cohort groups will be a major part of ACT 3 going into 2012 and beyond.
5. Sign up on my facebook page if you like. It too will eventually require change too as I get nearer the 5,000 limit and have to develop a “fan” page. (I hate that term “fan” page but then facebook “friends” is another misnomer that I can’t quite adopt either! Consider me opposed to “individualism,” at least as we have developed it in American social culture.)