Do you have a blog or would you like to start one? (iStock photo)

Like it or not, times have changed. Blogging has now become a part of our everyday lives and engaging in the online world should be a priority as a pastor. While blogging is not technically mandatory, it's encouraged—providing you with an extra space for teaching, sharing, and positive influence, should you choose to accept it.

I know the world of blogging can be an intimidating place, so I've compiled a few tried-and-true tips to make your blogging life easier:

1. Have a place to record your blogging ideas. One of the hardest parts about blogging is coming up with things to say. If you're anything like me, brilliant ideas either come to you in the shower or while you're driving, neither of which are very good places to crack open your laptop.

Instead of trying to come up with ideas on the spot when you find time to blog, have a place where you record these genius (and often inconveniently-timed) ideas. Whether it's a notebook, or an app on your iPhone, keep all your ideas in one place so when you finally sit down to write, you'll have lots of topics to choose from.

2. Schedule writing time into your day. There are times that are conducive to writing, and there are those that aren't. It's important to find a rhythm that works for you.

If you try to write when the mood strikes, you will be inconsistent at best. If you try to write in the middle of the day, when you're interrupted the most, you'll find yourself frustrated and stuck as you never are able to get past your first paragraph.

Carve out an uninterrupted time in your day you can use to write. This will give you the time you need to write well and consistently.

Which brings us to our next point ...

3. Be consistent. If you write one great blog, that's great. Hopefully your circle of influence will share it and lots of people will read it. This is a successful day in the blogging world. But this alone is not enough.

If you write something great, the hope is that people will come back for more. However, if you rarely write, your readers will stop coming back altogether.

To build an audience, you must be consistent.

4. Know your end goal. What do you want people to walk away with after reading your blog? Do you want them to feel encouraged, or excited, or challenged? Do you want them to feel a sense of community and belonging or a call to reach higher? It's important to identify the purpose of your blog, because blogging for blogging's sake isn't going to accomplish what you hope it will accomplish.

You must write with a purpose.

5. Be you. In the blogging world, it's tempting to adopt the style and subject matter of the people you find most successful. But that's not the key to blogging success. People will read your blog because they identify with you and the things you're writing about. If you write from your perspective about the things you see and hear and find to be important, your audience will bond with you and come back for more. People want to connect with you.

If they want to connect with someone different, they can read their blog instead.

Blogging feels daunting sometimes, but when used well, it can be an incredible tool and resource for your congregation and beyond. Give it a try. And above all, keep practicing. You'll discover what works and where you can improve.

With more than a dozen years of local church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and, all while staying involved in the local church.

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