Blogs are websites which include time and date stamped entries, and usually display the most recent posts first. Since August 2006, the author has maintained a Christian blog, originally titled “Eyes Right” but now called “Pocket Share Jesus.” Like this “Digital Witness for Jesus Christ” project, the author’s Christian blog blog has gone through several iterations over time. As described in more detail on the blog’s About page, it started as a “team blog” with several others, as a place to share our respective journeys of Christian faith. Later, it became my individual Christian blog, but previous posts by others were archived on the site and remain online.
Why Create a Christian Blog?
I have maintained an active professional blog (www.speedofcreativity.org) since 2003, and originally shared both Christian-themed and educational technology related posts on the same website. In my case, I eventually decided to create a separate Christian blog not because I wanted to “hide” my Christian faith, but rather because my primary blog and other web spaces were dedicated primarily to other topics. (Like “educational technology.”) I knew other people were not coming to those sites to hear about my Christian faith, and I did not want to be hesitant or reluctant to share ideas and Bible verses with others. I created a separate blog space so I could more freely share those Christian-focused posts and ideas, and also encourage others to do the same.
One of the primary links I provide on my Christian blog is to a 2006 post I shared on my main “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” blog titled, “My Journey of Faith to Jesus.” Growing up as a Presbyterian, sharing “testimonies” like this was not something we frequently heard about in church or were encouraged to share on Sunday. The Bible is filled with references to personal testimonies about the power of God and the redeeming love of his Son, Jesus Christ. I believe God calls each of us to share our stories and our testimonies of faith about his REALITY and our experiences living in RELATIONSHIP with Him. Sharing my testimony and journey of faith online with others, as well as face-to-face in conversations as well as sermons, has been and continues to be an ongoing process of prayer and risk taking. This “Digital Witness for Jesus” project is another chapter in that continuing personal story.
I include a linked reference to my @pocketshare Twitter account, which is linked to my Pocket Share Christian blog, on my primary @wfryer Twitter account profile. I periodically retweet my @pocketshare account from my main @wfryer channel, which has a much larger following, to share this Christian social media account and blog site with a wider audience and invite people to read and follow the content I share there.
Ownership and Digital Preservation of Ideas
Technology and web platforms change rapidly. In the early days of the interactive web (web 2.0 as it was called) in the early to mid-2000s, blogs were the primary way individuals were able to to share their thoughts on the Internet and obtain feedback from others via comments. With the advent of social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the opportunity to share your ideas with a global audience dramatically expanded along with the ease of sharing via a variety of smartphone apps as well as website interfaces.
While social media platforms have expanded and facilitated opportunities for more people to share ideas online, they have also raised new issues about ownership (intellectual property rights) as well as digital preservation. If you share your ideas / media / content on a social media platform, you are subject to that platform’s terms of service, community standards, and ultimately decisions about whether or not your content should be shared and how it should be shared. As of this writing in late 2019, both Facebook and Twitter “algorithmically curate” the news feeds which are presented to users, prioritizing some channels and posts over others based on a variety of factors. Similarly, the “recommendation engine” of YouTube is constantly offering additional choices for videos to watch, which are algorithmically determined according to an opaque calculation (to users) based on past videos watched, liked videos, and other “signals” we share as part of our digital footprints online.
When you choose to create and maintain a blog of your ideas which is separate from a social media platform like Facebook, you are maintaining a web presence which is independent of the ultimate profitability, rise or fall of a social media company and its platforms. Some well funded social media platforms, like Google+ for consumer (non-GSuite) accounts, have been entirely shut down. Hosting your thoughts and posts on your own blog, especially when you have the ability to backup and export your content out of your selected platform so it could (if needed) to moved to another site, is analogous to taking out an insurance policy on preserving your ideas.
If you host your blog on a free website like Blogger.com or Tumblr.com, and do not register a custom “domain name,” your website may “live on” after your death even if it does not receive further updates. Social media companies providing free services are not under any compulsion to preserve content, however, as Twitter demonstrated in December 2019 by removing inactive accounts.  If you choose to register a custom domain name (like wesfryer.com, for example) you or your relatives / descendants will have to continue paying for that domain name for it to remain online and available for others to access. While websites like The Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive (archive.org/web) take “snapshots” of many different webpages and can thereby preserve some content even after the domain name has expired, an account gets hacked, or is otherwise inaccessible in a current / “live” form, blog authors ideally want to preserve their websites online with full indexing and searchable functionality. This requires some forethought and planning, in most cases.
Christian Blog Examples
One example of a Christian blog which I enjoy reading and serves as an example of the kind of Christian blog idea sharing I’m advocating for in this chapter is by Pastor Mateen Elass (mateenelass.wordpress.com), who was our lead pastor for about five years when I served as an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma. On his blog, Mateen shares a variety of experiences and perspectives, which are both informative and inspiring. He set his blog up on WordPress.com, which is a paid hosting service using the popular blogging platform, WordPress. WordPress is an “open source” software program, which means anyone can download, use, and even modify it, however the software has to run and “live” on a web server (a computer connected 24/7 to the Internet) so others can access it.
Some pastors use their church’s website to share their ideas in a blog-like format. Remember, to be a “blog” a website simply needs to have different entires (or “posts”) which are time and date stamped, with unique links. Pastor Jim Cymbala of The Brooklyn Tabernacle church in New York uses his church website in this way to share daily devotions (www.brooklyntabernacle.org/devotional). No one needs to login to Facebook, Google, or any other website to access these ideas and information. Blogs like this are generally openly accessible, which is beneficial when you are sharing messages to which you want to provide broad access.
Recommended Blogging Platforms
A variety of blogging platforms, with different fee structures as well as features, are available today. Two of the best free options, which appear to be well funded / profitable and therefore not going offline / bankrupt / going away anytime soon, are Blogger.com (a free service provided by Google) and WordPress.com. I choose to “self-host” several blogs, including my Christian blog, “Pocket Share Jesus,” using the free web platform WordPress (downloadable from wordpress.org) and a web host to whom I play a monthly fee (currently Liquid Web.) Medium.com is a popular blogging platform with a clean design aesthetic which many people use today.
If you’re not a very technical person, you do NOT want to “self-host” your blog, you want to pay someone else to host, update, and maintain your site. While Blogger.com and WordPress.com sites are excellent and can be free, you may want to pay for additional services or pay a different commercial blogging service. SquareSpace.com is another popular and user-friendly blogging / website creation platform which you might consider.
Additional blogging platforms and blogging tips are available on the “Interactive Writing” page of ShowWithMedia.com, a digital literacy project website I also maintain.
Register a Custom Domain Name
It is NOT necessary to register a custom domain name (like wesfryer.com) but it can make your blog easier to find and people to remember. Domain names must be renewed annually, but you can pay for multiple years in advance. Prices vary, but generally you are going to pay around $12 per year for registration depending on the service (domain name registrar) you use. One of the most affordable and reliable options is Google’s domain service (domains.google.com). Like a web host, it’s important to remember that when you pay a registrar to buy and register a domain name you are committing to regularly renewing that subscription, otherwise people will lose access to your blog / website.
Unless you pay extra to your registrar for “privacy services,” you will have to provide your name, address, and phone number when you register a domain name. That information will be publicly shared on domain databases worldwide, and subject to WHOIS searches when people query about the owner of your site. For this reason, it’s advisable to either pay for privacy services with a domain registrar or use a PO Box instead of your real street address. You can register for a free Google Voice number (voice.google.com) so you do not have to share your personal cell phone or home phone number. You also may want to register with an email address separate from your main / primary email, since addresses listed on domain registrations frequently receive high volumes of spam.
Backup Blog Content
Wherever you decide to setup and maintain your Christian blog, be sure you learn how to BACKUP all your blog posts (Export posts, if using WordPress) so you are protected from site hacks or other problems that could cause you to lose your online content. If using a self-hosted WordPress site, I use and and recommend the commercial plug-in BackupBuddy. I’ve used it for years and it has come to my rescue more than once when I’ve run into technical problems with WordPress sites, including site hacks.
Share Links on Social Media
Whatever platform and web domain you choose to host and maintain your blog, you’ll want to share links to your new posts on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The potential reach (and even virality, although that may be actually undesirable for the troll attention it can invite) of social media platforms make them wonderful for “getting the word out” about new blog posts and other kinds of media you have shared for others to read and consider. See the previous chapter on social media for more details!
Welch, Chris. “Twitter Will Remove Inactive Accounts and Free up Usernames in December.” The Verge, 26 Nov. 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/26/20984328/twitter-removing-inactive-accounts-usernames-available-date.