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i was just thinking about this today.

i look for blogs that push me beyond me current thinking... not blogs that validate my thinking, but the ones that challenge me to go beyond my comfort zone. i love it when i find them. i wish there were more...

but i'm also one of those who doesn't care about stats... (kind of...!), i'm astonished people want to read what i write. i care much more that those who are interested in what i talk about find a way of hearing what the project i'm working on is doing, and (more importantly) vice versa. blogging is a convenient medium for that. i don't normally find blogging a conversation (i love it when it is, but that's an unexpected delight), i find it more a way of remembering i'm not alone...

but i'm stretched for time (and probably lazy)... and i need people to make it easy for me... which is exactly what you've written about.

Stephen Garner

Thanks for the post. Prodded me to tinker with the RSS generated by my blog to get the whole article in it. Been meaning to do it for ages, just needed someone to remind me.

Andrew Dowsett

Jonny - when you posted about switching to flock, I thought I'd give it a go too. And your blog is in my flock newsreader, as well as on my blog roll. Although I still visit your blog, I do keep an eye on it in 'my news'. And in the flock newsreader I get to set whether I see your full post, an excerpt (first few lines), or just the headline (post title). I don't know about how other readers work. But if you're using flock, you can set what you want to see, so it shouldn't be a problem. Or am I missing something?


good point andrew and i do have my preference set to read full posts BUT that still only works if the feed has full posts in. take churchandpomo as an example - if i click on full i don't see the full post, just the full amount of what they have selected to put in their feed.

Andrew Dowsett

Ah, I'd wondered if that were the case...

Of course, some of us are not only stretched for time, but technoignoramouses...we blog for communication and conversation, but don't really understand the tools that might facilitate that further. I guess some of us need RSS feeds that feed the whole post automatically. I wouldn't know where to begin changing settings. But I have just imported myself into my own flock newsreader, and discover that the posts appear in full...now all I need to do is post something worth reading ;-)


I am the exact same way.


While I understand your points, I also can't help but be reminded of an attitude that permeates Christendom.

Most everyone knows that magazine and newspaper articles are written with a teaser in the first paragraph to get readers attention and to prompt them want to read further. And so it is with chit chat and small talk in church. If you don't get someone's attention right away, then they walk off to talk to someone else—usually someone they already know well.

As for the “continued” link, blogs and sites with lots of content have to put excerpts on the front page with links to the rest of the article, or nobody would bother paging down to see the rest of the content. Excerpts are made especially for the convenience of the reader. Those who blog more than two paragraphs in a post need excerpts with “continue” links.

When I read your points above, I couldn't help but remember many bad experiences in church. We introverts who don't do small talk well, often get ignored by extroverts and, especially, the professional church people because we often have more to say than will interest you in the first few seconds of chit chat. Extroverted church leaders seem to have no time for us. They have too many friends to talk too, to bother spending time with someone less interesting.

Your blogroll looks much like the blogrolls of those on yours. Have you noticed that bloggers who work in the church industry link to each other and repeat each other and blogroll each other and blog about meeting each other at conferences and post pictures of each other? It's the Power Law at work. Those in the conversation stay in the conversation and those uninvited stay out. We know we're not welcomed because you won't bother reading our blogs. They don't interest you. You have too little time to get to know us. It's just like church.

Probably I'm overreacting. But it just seems very ironic to me that someone who works for a missionary organization finds he has no time to get to know others who don't get his attention within the first couple of lines, and/or force him to lift his heavy finger and click a link to read on. Do you judge books by their covers?

As for me and my metablog, we will seek out the unknown, the unheard and the unchurched. They're more interesting anyway, once you get past the first few lines and the “read more” link.


I know that some people only feed the first few lines because they are actually trying to generate revenue or get accurate statistics of how many people are actually reading what they write. Just a thought.


i'm one of the "technoignoramouses." how do i go about setting up a feed for other people to get to my site?


you have some automatically generated by blogger - the url for your rss feed is http://thelefthandofgod.blogspot.com/rss.xml
and it includes the whole post ;-)


Your two requests seem like they don't jive together. You want the first few sentences to be interesting, to grab your focus; you don't want to have to click something to continue on past those two sentences. Do you see what I'm getting at? It's almost as if you want a few brief and catchy thoughts, but nothing longer or more substantial.

Too, these seem slightly odd complaints for someone who writes their posts in all lowercase letters and without proper punctuation. Couldn't some of us hold that against you as well? ("If you want me to read your blog posts, please use proper syntax?")

geoff holslcaw

jonny, thanks for the heads up on churchandpomo.org. I've changed it for ya, and everyone else.

now I agree that there is too much content to keep track of, but...as I said, some people want to be a 'slog' and some people want to reads 'slogs'. I write for those with a bit more time and focus, and my posts are longer. If no one has the time for that, that's OK.

But I do agree with the gist of your post. format you work to make it accessible, and let people decide if the content is worth reading.


wow - lots of reaction. wasn't meant to be a hard hitting post - sorry if it came across too strongly. and no one needs to take the advice/request!

i like the idea of slog geoff and hope to follow along and digest what's there.

i read a lot of books that are obviously more lengthy than blog posts so please don't think i'm averse to trying to digest anything more than a few sentences!

maybe my blog reading isn't ideal - it's just what it is. i track quite a few blogs. i am busy with a lot of plates to spin. writing a blog is fitted inbetween other stuff as is tracking other blogs. so it is inevitable that we glance at headlines, follow in newsreaders etc. the post was just an observation on what i am doing in reality and what other people have told me they do - i.e. we don't often click through - that's all - nothing more or less. it may be useful info for some. it's clearly annoyed a few others.

bill i'm sorry you seem so irked - i really don't quite get the level of your reaction. but hey, it's easy to misunderstand electronic communication. i've done it many times...

ck i intend to carry on in lower case letters - i like it. it reflects the light touch nature of blog writing, on the move, capturing a moment, not to be taken too seriously. of course if you don't like it - no problem. no one's making you read it...

and for the record i'm pretty ignorant about the tech stuff too. i just find out what i need as a minimum generally. i use typepad precisely because it has a bunch of tools that help me avoid the techie side of things.

anyway as i said in the post it was a pretty dull rant but thanks for the thoughts and thanks to those who have changed their feeds - maybe my post was worth it ;-)

Andrew Dowsett

I hear Bill's complaint about blogrolls and Power Laws a lot, and I have to say I'm not entirely convinced...

There is a Kingdom principle Jesus draws out at the end of the parable of the minas/talents, that operates like this: "I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away." As I understand this, those who exercise what God has entrusted to them with integrity are given greater authority (and with it, responsibility) as a result. Or, even more bluntly, there is a reward.

What I see in the Christian blog world is that certain people are seen to share things of value, and as a result more people link to them. In terms of the often talked about gift economy, sharing good gifts results in an increase in influence - which is not the same as power. And I think a lot of the complaining that I hear about Power Laws results from confusing power and influence...

At a personal level - as an insignificant blogger - my own blog roll is a mix of 'famous' bloggers, friends, reciprocal links, and people whose perspectives I find fresh - whether or not they are 'known'. I think that is fairly standard. Incidentally, Bill's metablog is included in the list...perhaps that makes him uncomfortable?


Well, I apologize for flying off the handle, but. . . Allow me to give some background. BTW, if you don't read on to the fourth paragraph, you'll miss most of the point.

Just this last Sunday I was talking with a woman whom I hadn't seen in several weeks because she's been going to church with the family of one of her daughters. It's a “traditional” CofC. Her main complaint was that while visiting there she misses the “real” conversation. The people there “seem” friendly but only superficially. They avoid discussing anything deeper than the weather or the “great sermon today.” We then began comparing notes of our past lives in churches where people—especially the very-busy-on-Sunday professionals—rarely hear your reply to their “Hi, how are you?” because they're too busy glad-handing and asking others “Hi, how are you?”. It makes you feel invisible.

For different reasons in the past, I've spent time hanging around church offices (large churches) during the workday. And I've overheard several conversations among the staff that sounded much like the gossip I remember hearing in the hallways in high school. Except, Christians often preface gossip with something like this: “Oh sister So-and-so is so sweet, but. . .” And then the gossip volleys around like a tennis ball. The people they often talk about are those outside of their own clique and those with “problems.” If you listen to this talk long enough, from an outsider's point of view, you get a picture of how the major cliques are structured and how they relate to the staff.

Three days ago, a friend who had been part of our small group committed suicide. Although she had other problems too, she was one of those forever on the outside. She wasn't pretty, she was overweight, and she suffered from sever chronic pain from Fibromyalgia (something we had in common). Chronic pain affects everything in your life, but no one else can see it, and few can imagine it. They either think that you're making it up, or they imagine it like a headache or something minor. However, it's often a personal hell that can lead to depression which is, BTW, a fatal disease if not treated properly. It's just another one of those sufferings that go unnoticed and unacknowledged by those who are so very busy making happy-happy, joy-joy small talk at church gatherings.

Over 25 years of church experience as an adult, and about 4 years on Christian forums and blogs, I've noticed the same sort of cliquishness in both. This is a human tendency, alright. We all have our friends and our favorite people to hang around—not! Look around a typical church gathering and you will find people on the boundaries. They're not witty or pretty or friends with important people. They probably don't give a lot of money or take on major projects. But these are the people that Jesus embraced. They are the “nerds” and “geeks” and general outcasts, just as they probably were in school. The more popular people don't notice these because they've been conditioned to ignore them. Which sorts of people (popular or unpopular), do you think, go into evangelism work? And how would that affect their perspective?

Nevertheless, I apologize for overreacting and for taking out my frustration on Johnny. But when I hear or read a church leader saying they're too busy to listen to or read what someone has to say, I get rather frustrated. And this has been a particularly tough week for me. It just goes to show that you never can tell what motivates people to say or write what they do. It may be boring and/or too long. But it's probably important to them.

The only reason that I mentioned my web site is because its expressed purpose for existing is to give voice to the outcast, unchurched and dechurched. I'm just a gadfly hoping to nudge the church into doing what Jesus did: seek the lost and discarded. Salvation, or redemption, BTW, has to do with getting un-lost and un-discarded. It's not about getting into paradise when you die. But the longer Christendom focuses on the afterlife, the longer it excuses itself from finding the lost.


thanks bill...

helps to hear a bit more where you are coming from. i hope i don't epitomise what you describe. i have always (and still do) struggled with church culture and never felt i quite fitted in anyway.

i do try and read a lot of what people say - i get a lot of e-mails in relation to blogs and try and respond as much as possible etc. i also always try and meet people who are passing through london and want to meet up. i can undrestand why my post might suggest i don't have time, but that is simply about information overload that is something that is becoming a challenge for a lot of us i think... the reason i want people to put their whole post in feeds is that i'm more likely to read them. that's all.

the list of blogs i link to has just evolved as i've got to know people or as they have linked to me. i was looking back through the last month's posts (you got me thinking which is a good thing) and half of say the last 25 are on items unrelated to church stuff (art, music, photography, london etc...) so i hope i am not stuck in an insular ghetto. it's something we have discussed a lot in grace (the community i am part of) in the last year and have tried to refocus outwards.

but equaly a big part of the focus of the blog is encouraging thinking, resources, reflection, creativity for people involved in mission, emerging church, alt worship and all that so it's kind of inevitable those people will find what i do of interest.

the blog is also just one thing - i do have a life beyond it with a different set of relationships ;-)

keep on keeping on...


I agree that the "to be continued" thing is necessary. When I write a long post I don't want people to miss possibly what I've written about the day before. If they're like me, they'll be turned off by the long post and go somewhere else without ever seeing the great (and shorter) post I wrote the day before.

Sarcastic Lutheran

i'm like cheryl, i don't see my blog as ever having much of a broad appeal, generally people don't like theology and sarcasm, bible and profanity quite so closely associated, but for the cranky but faithful lunatic fringe of the church (perhaps there's up to a couple dozen of us) i want to make my posts available, so how does one make posts available for a "feed"???? sorry, sort of a technopeasant here.


typepad creates feeds for you so you don't need to worry. i think you have at least two?
i have the first in my newsreader and it sends the whole post so you don't need to change anything (at least not for me ;-) )


I think that people typically blog (and correspondingly have bad links) because they are blogging for themsleves and not anyone else. If they really want others to read what they have written then they will make sure that it is appealing, inviting, and easily accesible; otherwise it is just a self-deluding attempt at a relationship that they can claim to have with other but is really just venting.


g'day jonny - i actualy like the 'first few lines only' scenario as if it doesn't grab me i let it go.

i am often overwhelmed with the info that lands on me everyday so for me its a culling procedure!

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