The purpose of blogging? ministry? churches?

I’ve enjoyed blogging less lately. Looking back, the every-day blogging schedule was too demanding. The main reason I would write some days was the certain knowledge that, once the daily chain broke, my readership would decline. Indeed, I now get about half the readers I got when I’d post once a day or more.

And why do the numbers matter? It’s not that I have to justify my reach to anyone, and I don’t accept advertising. The numbers matter because I was willing to let increased readership feed my self-esteem. I didn’t write — or don’t think I wrote — anything I don’t believe, but I did appreciate the feedback and the spikes in readership.

But — not to put too fine a point on it — it isn’t worth it. What is worth it?

One of the lessons of the ministry is that you get early-on is that you may not know where or when you do some good, and I suppose the same is true for churches, too. Sometimes it’s the listening ear, the kind word or the open door that does more good — or so we hear, or imagine — than programs, or planning or a fine education or stained glass. But I wonder if that’s not face saving; perhaps not untrue, at least in the past, but a less-than-productive use of time, talent and treasure. And in a secularizing world, we can make a clear and candid review of the work of the church and the ministry, or others will do it for us.

The same thought occurs: what is the value of our work, what reason do we have to engage it, and its value to others?

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Scott – I think in some ways this comes down to calling. What is your calling with reference to this blog? In reference to your work (day-job)? What is your calling in reference to your faith community?

    In many ways this blog is for me, a wayside pulpit that I value visiting. It is thought provoking, theological measured, and reflects a part of the UU spectrum that otherwise remains hidden from public view. My own practice of faith is enriched by your ministry of writing. And those are the values I place in your blog. No matter if you post weekly, or daily, or something more random.

  2. I started my blog in 2006 and decided to do just a few entries per year. Not to interested in extended discussions with readers, so have received only two replies–one about Dallas Willard when he was still living. He felt he should keep his career in higher education rather than church ministry and he is probably the most esteemed graduate of Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga, a fundamentalist Baptist University. Happy to see him use the phrase “the good homosexual” in his book THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY. I met him in 2005 or 2006.

  3. Mick, regarding higher ed vs parish ministry, Dr. William L. Fox, minister emeritus of Universalist National Memorial Church, said something similar to me a few years ago — that he was still doing ministry but in a different way as a university president. I’m sure that his little college in Canton, MO, was happy to have his ministry skills & instincts on the ground after a tornado ripped through campus days after Bill was given the job. Now he’s serving his alma mater, St. Lawrence U.

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