Missions Misunderstood » Blog Archive » The Missionary Blogosphere

Posted January 13th, 2011 by E. Goodman

Now that it’s 2011, many missionaries have embraced the 2000s and started blogs. Fortunately, there are hundreds of opportunities to stay in touch with what’s happening on the field. I try to monitor lots of these blogs in order to know what God is doing around the world (and so that I can make fun of missionaries).

As I scan the missionary blogosphere, it seems like they tend to take one of four distinct approaches to blogging. I summarize each of them here for your information and entertainment:

1.) Newsletter blogs. In the missionary snail mail era (pre-2004), missionaries took great pains to fire up Microsoft Word and put together a collection of thoughts, updates, Bible verses, clip-art and low-resolution photos. They would then print these out, fold them into thirds, and mail them to everyone in their address book (which, back then, was an actual book). The newsletter served as a sort of “don’t forget about us” message that hardly anyone read, but nobody had the heart to opt out of receiving them.

So when email came into regular use, workers everywhere started sending electronic versions of their newsletters (sometimes literally printed out and scanned back in to the computer). And when Geocities started offering free web hosting, missionaries around the world jumped at the opportunity to save some postage by transitioning their newsletters into map-themed websites with large hit counters and animated GIFs.

You can still find these sites, but now most of them use Blogger. The idea is the same– snapshots of the missionaries and their eight children, eating strange food, singing during a worship service, celebrating a birthday. The stories included are carefully selected to show that the need is great, they’re making progress, but the work isn’t done yet. They almost always conclude with a list or prayer requests and a reminder of where to send a check.

Look for blog names like: “Come 2 (Country Name),” or “ (Country Name) for Christ,” or anything with words from the local language.

2.) Every post is a theological treatise. These missionary blogs are easily identified: no images (with the exception of the occasional stock photo to illustrate a point) and lots of theology in a sea of text. Maybe it’s because they used to be preachers and still need to put together a sermon each week; maybe they’re working through a personal study of the book of Ecclesiastes and just thought the world would be interested. Whatever their motivation, treatise bloggers use their blogs like long-winded preachers use their pulpits– to bore their audience with content that we’d feel guilty to disregard publicly.

It should be noted that Missions, Misunderstood has always fallen into this category. Nine-part series. Lots of scrolling to get to the end of a post. Preaching to the choir. At times, even I was bored with my posts.

Look for URLs that include Ancient Greek, the name of an obscure Biblical place, or a veiled scriptural reference.

3.) Diary blogs. Sadza and cabbage for dinner. What the kids got for Christmas. The contents of a recent care package.Diary bloggers spare no detail to give you a front seat in the action of their daily lives. They want you to feel the frustration of a trip to the post office and to know the humiliation of language mistakes. These blogs walk the fine line between and LOL and TMI.

Look for blog URLs that include the word life– as in “Life In Ecuador,” or “The So-And-Sos In Someplace“.

4.) Devotion blogs. Somewhere between the Treatise blogs and the Diary blogs are the Devotion blogs, where every interaction is an object lesson and every life experience has deep spiritual meaning. Posts start out as an entertaining account of some daily-life experience, but then quickly take a turn for the spiritual, where the author reflects on what happened and how God must be using it to teach him something. Finally, Devotion blog posts end with a prayer, scripture, or both.

Look for blog titles that include the words: ramblings, musings, rantings, thoughts, or something to do with coffee.

To find all types of missionary blogs, visit the appropriately-named missionary-blogs.com, where you’ll find lists of missionary blogs according to country of service. Also, be sure to follow the link-trails from one missionary blog to another. Missionaries’ blogs are part of an ongoing conversation among workers around the world. The more missionary blogs you follow, the more you’ll be able to see the big picture.

Tags: Communicating with supporters., Missionary blogs

Filed under:Blogging, Missions