Saturday, June 12, 2010

Best Blogs

Youth Specialties recently posted their list of Top 20 Youth Ministry Blogs. I can't imagine the work it must have taken to compile such a list. It's a great list and a fantastic resource for people who want to see what's going on in the world of youth ministry. Naturally, there's plenty of discussion (especially in the article's comments section) about the process, the criteria, and the omissions.

My main beef with the YS list is that it provides a ranking of each blog instead of listing "popular youth ministry blogs". The list also includes the previous year's rank, so readers can see which blogs are getting better and which ones have remained stable or gotten worse. Adam McLane, one of the people who worked to create the list, is transparent for how they came to their conclusions (67% is derived from publicly available stats, 33% is an influence rank), and I don't doubt his authenticity. I just think that, when it comes to sharing ministry resources, we don't need to feed the culture of competition that creates winners and losers.

At the heart of the conversations about the YS blog list is the definition of a youth ministry blog. For example, I wouldn't consider to be a youth ministry blog, even though I am a congregational youth minister and occasionally share thoughts about church work. Some of the blogs on the YS list are almost exclusively written about youth ministry, though not all of the bloggers are full time youth ministers. Other blogs post a ton of free materials that can be replicated by fellow ministers, while still others are written by youth ministry veterans that talk mostly about personal things.

Part of the conversation is about purpose. Everyone has their own reason for starting a blog, but I think most people who write a public blog ultimately want people to read what they have to say. It doesn't matter if a blogger just wants a place to spout ideas, or they need a creative space to flesh out concepts for the next book, or if it's part of their job...bloggers want people to read their stuff.

With that in mind, I asked a few tech-savvy bloggers for their suggestions for how people can expand their network. Here's what they said:
  • Post new stuff regularly
  • Link to other sites you like
  • Discern your unique gifts to find your niche
  • Read, read, read other people's stuff
  • Claim your blog on Technorati (they give you a unique code - like this one K3Y9E86MF7T4 - to register your blog in their search engines)
  • Use tags / categories for your articles
  • Ask people to be "guest writers" once in a while
  • Do a multi-post topical series once in a while (like "7 People That Changes My Life")

It's fun to see how blogging has morphed in the past five years. I'm inspired by the people who faithfully update their websites with information, ideas, and resources that I can incorporate into my youth ministry settings. If you have other suggestions for how amateur bloggers can increase their readership, or if you want to suggest some blogs that might not have made the YS list, feel free to share them here.

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