If you are trying to attract inquirers to your parish, consider blogging. A blog will draw people to your community every day of the year, at all hours of the day.
Why should you blog?
Here are five benefits to creating a blog for your outreach ministry.
- Attraction. When you write about compelling topics and share your opinions, you will attract seekers who are interested in those topics. As seekers begin to follow you and read your blog regularly, they will begin to trust you.
- Influence. Once you have developed a level of trust, you will have some influence in the life of the seeker. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can help guide the seeker to a life in Christ.
- Good news. There is lots and lots of darkness in the world. By writing regularly about what you believe, you become a light in the darkness. Even a very small light in an ocean of darkness is good news.
- Conversion. By putting yourself out into the world through a blog, you will be taking a risk. You will be going “out on the streets” as Pope Francis says. That will cause you to change. It will cause conversion. And your conversion will lead to the conversion of others.
- Salvation. The first thing we have to say to seekers is: “Jesus Christ has saved you.” If that is the underlying message of every post on your blog, you will have a constant online presence that delivers the “first proclamation” every time a seeker comes across your site.
Who are you writing for?
The first step in creating a blog is to decide who your audience is. If you search online for “Catholic blogs” or “Christian blogs,” you will find thousands of examples. However, almost none of them will help you get more seekers. Ninety-nine percent of Christian blogs are written for Christians. They use Christian language and address Christian concerns. Non-Christians might trip over one of these blogs accidentally, but they probably won’t stick around.
To reach out to non-Christians, you have to think about building relationships. You do this every day in your “real” life. You have friends outside of church with whom you discuss a wide range of subjects. You are friends with them and enjoy their company because they are good, fun, interesting people. They are not “projects” for you to work on to make into Christians. You should think of your potential online readers in the same way. How can you build bridges with them based on their interests?
To be successful at this, you have to come up with a real reader. Click here to download a quick step-by-step guide to learn how to create reader personas.
You can have more than one kind of reader, but if they are significantly different, consider creating different blogs. For example, you might have one blog for seekers who have no religious training or background and another for baptized Christians who are engaged to or married to Catholics.
One thing you cannot have is a blog that is for everybody. If you try writing to everybody, you will wind up with no one interested in what you have to say.
What to write about
Once you have a definite reader in mind, write about things he or she would be interested in. Pope Francis says our first job is to heal the wounds. So imagine topics your ideal reader might be struggling with, and write about those. For example, write about:
- relationship issues
- financial stress
- not knowing our neighbors
- job stability
- stress with boss or coworkers
- physical or mental illness
- life after death
You can write about all of these topics within a niche that is comfortable for you and that is of interest to your ideal reader. For example, if both you and your ideal reader like sports, write about how professional athletes suffer from loneliness or broken relationships.
If both you and your reader are mothers, write about parenting tips and how to hold down a job while raising children.
If you fret about money and so does your reader, write about how to avoid depression and how to invest for the future.
Here some examples of “Christian” blogs that appeal to non-Christian readers:
- Testosterhome http://testosterhome.net/
- Terry Hershey http://www.terryhershey.com/
- Mike St. Pierre http://www.mikestpierre.com/
(If you know of other examples, please add them to the comments below.)
What else should we talk about?
There is much more I could say about blogging and how to use it for outreach. But our “ideal reader,” the imaginary person we write to on this blog, isn’t much interested in blogging. So this post is meant to test that assumption. Do you, dear reader, want to learn more about how to blog? If so, what are a couple of things you might be interested in learning?