1. Determine your purpose.
Before you start writing, make sure you know why you are writing. Increasing web traffic and connecting with current or potential congregation members are great reasons to start a blog. However, you’ll need a more specific goal in mind for every blog you write.
Let’s say you are writing a blog about marriage. What are you trying to accomplish with this blog? Are you trying to teach your readers specific practices for a healthy marriage? Do you want to increase your readers’ understanding of what Scripture says about marriage? Or maybe you want to address a specific topic within marriage: conflict resolution, communication or date nights. Whenever you write, make sure you have a specific purpose in mind before you begin. This will give each blog focus and clarity.
2. Know your audience.
This is a pretty simple communication tip, but do not let its simplicity fool you. This is more challenging that it sounds. Yes, you can probably determine for each blog whether your primary audience is “church people” or “non-church people.” That is important, but it is only a small part of the way.
Make sure you understand exactly who is likely to read your blog. Is it more likely men or women? How old are they? How much education do they likely have? Kids? Pets? Church background? Profession? The more you know about your audience, the better you can shape your blogs to reach them where they are.
Start off with what you know: your congregation and your community. Try to develop 3-5 “personas” from these groups who might be likely to read your blog. Shape your writing style, vocabulary, length, illustrations and even topics around these groups of people. Then, adjust these personas as you determine who really is reading and engaging with your content.
3. Connect with your church’s mission.
Now, about that content: Remember that a blog on your church website is not the same as a personal blog. Although a pastor might want to write about denominational drama, politics, hobbies or theological disagreements, he or she should not write about these things on the church’s blog (and really, some of them should not always be on a personal blog either). Every topic – every paragraph – should match the mission of the church. A church blog is not for opinions, it is for extending the reach of the church and building new and ongoing relationships with the congregation and community.
Your church blog can highlight the culture of your church. Blogging about controversial topics or church drama is a really good way to let the community know your church is controversially dramatic. To avoid this, make sure you are matching your church’s mission.
4. Create a content calendar.
One of the best ways to keep your content in check is to plan it out in advance. One of the most important elements of a successful blog is consistency. Plan on blogging regularly – once a week is an ideal starting place. This keeps your website looking up-to-date and has the best chance of drawing in web traffic.
Plan your blog topics out along with your sermon series or church emphases. A blog is a great way to augment what is already going on in your church. If you are doing a sermon series from the book of Mark, plan in advance to write blogs that complement (not repeat) your sermons. Give it original ideas and whet your readers’ appetite for various in-person gatherings throughout the week or build on a recent gathering. You might find the practice of blogging a helpful addition to your sermon preparation.
Another way to plan is by thinking about your audience personas – what topics are they looking for online? Think through what they need using the words they would in a search engine. Instead of “Christian Parenting,” consider “How to Deal with Teenage Drama.” This might connect with a specific issue a community member is dealing with and help meet them where they are. This will also help you to show up in more search engines.
5. Share, share and let be shared.
The more readers your blog has, the more helpful your blog is. Make sure to share your great work! First, share every blog across your social media channels as soon as you post it. This is how you drive traffic to your site.
Next, share your blogs whenever they are relevant. If you blogged about parenting in January and are doing a parenting emphasis in May, be sure to post the blog on your social media again in May. This helps expand the reach and impact of your new emphasis while still driving more people to your website.
Third, make it easy for your readers’ to share your blogs. If your church people and community readers can easily click on a share button on your church webpage, they will definitely share any blog they like. This is how you can have the biggest reach in your community.
Let’s recap with an example:
Starting Place: You know you want to write about parenting.
Audience: One of your audience personas is a single mom in her thirties, with college education, working a mid-income professional position.
Determine the Goal: Asking yourself what this person needs will help you determine the goal of this blog. Perhaps the goal is to help single mom’s know how to deal with stress.
Plan the Content: Next, ask how would she search for that information? Use this to shape your title: 3 Keys for Peace for the Single Mom. Then you can determine where this fits with your church calendar: Is this a blog for now, or should you save it for that parenting emphasis?
Share: Post it early and often on all the church’s social media sites. Don’t forget to make it shareable on your site as well!
Now that you know how to determine your purpose, know your audience, plan your content with your church’s mission and share your content, get out there are start a church blog!
Keith Davenport serves as a volunteer for communications for the Center for Pastoral Leadership, assisting with digital content planning and management. Keith is a graduate of Olivet Nazarene University ('08) and Nazarene Theological Seminary ('12) and works full time as Manager of Student Activities & Leadership Development at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. Previously he served as Lead Pastor of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Lawrence, Kansas and Associate Pastor at Victory Hills Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City, Kansas. Social media and writing are two of Keith's favorite hobbies. His book Conversations on Holiness was published by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City in 2013.