Why {Almost} Every Missionary Should Have a Blog

by Laura on February 4, 2012

The following is my humble, quick attempt to convince my fellow missionary-types to jump the hurdles of fear, time and know-how and just go ahead and start a blog of some sort.  {That is, of course, unless you are one of those super-amazing people living in a closed country where blogs are illegal or in a remote village where internet access is impossible. Then, obviously, you get a free pass from this little challenge, along with our big truckloads of respect.} 

You, reluctant-missionary, are the cat. Your supporters, the ones who sent you and love you and give to you,  are the girl in the picture with the wide excited smile, hopeful and interested.

Because if I were to guess, I’d say most of your supporters sincerely want to know about your life and your work. overseas. They want to hear about your struggles and what weird {or not-so-weird} food your family eats. They want to be invited into your story of living an expat life, even if it’s not pretty or dramatic or even uber-spiritual.

And, yes, you may not have the writing skills of C.S. Lewis or the story of Amy Carmichael or even the web-genius of that 20-year-old-kid who started facebook, but we live in a world of social media, a world of connection via this thing called the world wide web. And it is quickly becoming {has already become, most definitely?} the most effective tool a missionary uses to communicate to family, friends, and supporters back home. 

When our family went back to the States this past summer, I can’t tell you how many times people made a reference to a story or event that I had recorded on this blog, and I can’t tell you how connected that made me feel. I felt like the pressure was off to cram the entire story of our year into a one hour coffee date. Most of our friends and supporters already knew much of the context for our life in Asia because they consistently, or just occasionally, would pop online and read updates of life here. This was a huge help, on so. many. levels.

Consistent blogging also more naturally allows for communication about needs on the field. Instead of stiffly asking every-other-newsletter for funds for your kids’ school fees or the clean water project you are doing with your ministry, blogging lets the missionary more easily share projects and needs, and then it gives donors a chance to quickly see the results of their gifts. For example, when we helped raise money for the construction for a new bath house for a Girls’ Home or the corrective surgery for a little Burmese girl, it was hugely helpful to post videos from those projects as they were completed, giving those who prayed or financially gave a fairly immediate picture of what their giving actually accomplished overseas. Here is the process we documented of the bath house project from last year for Breanna’s House of Joy:

Video of the original bathhouse, asking for donations

Post highlighting a fundraising dinner in the States for the project

Final Video/Post {If you click on one, do this one.}

People “back home” want to be involved overseas, and they want to know that their money, energy and advocacy for you is accomplishing something good in the world. Let them see that. You are their connection to the third-world or the spiritually-needy world, across the globe. So be that connection, and never underestimate the gift it is to let them see the good their efforts are making.

And the final reason you should blog while overseas, you-cat-who-looks-bored-and-trapped, is, of course, that blog posts are much less painful and way cheaper than those dreaded newsletters that you have to write, print, copy, fold, stuff, label, stamp and mail. Every month.

Now the responsibility of that does make me want to leave the country.

Oh, wait . . .

*********************

Thoughts on missionary-blogging?

Supporters, what kinds of things would you want most from a blogging-missionary you financially give to?

Missionaries, do you blog or do you just really hate the idea? What are the benefits and negatives? Anybody want a series on this?

*Needing a website or blog design?  Check out one of my sponsors, Erin at Design by Insight, a former missionary herself! Her work is truly beautiful, and if I had to do it over again, I would totally have paid someone else to set up a blog for me {as opposed to the million hours it took for me to figure it out on my own}. Just saying.

 

  • http://www.kelleyjleigh.wordpress.com Kelley

    Tremendous point of view on this …
    you are right, we DO remember the stories and we DO want to hear. Totally, yes.

    We do also understand that you are all living extremely challenging lives that we can’t imagine — be it the big reality of human trafficking or ‘smaller’ reality of figuring out how to replace a broken glass door. And, I think I speak for a lot of your readers when I say that we can’t imagine how you find the time to write us, as you learn to live within an enitrely other culture.

    So, thank you for blogging, Laura.
    Really.

    ~K

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Oh, thanks, Kelley.

      Honestly, your words are too much. I promise, I PROMISE, life is just slower here . . .

      If you lived here, you’d write tons, too.

      Love, L

  • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

    And yes, Amy L, I might just be talking about yyyyooooouuuuu . . . .

    ha ha.

    no, really.

    • http://www.highadventuretours.com Amy Lindeman

      **sheepish grin**

      Nailed to the wall. My excuse in China was always that blogs were a security risk and yet… hmmmm… WE were kicked out of China. And, well, many of my blog-writing friends in China are still…. there. And I’ve been out of China for more than a year now. But… but… but … no more excuses.

      Oh poo.

      See you tomorrow.

      Amy

      • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

        Yup, you are totally busted. I will be expecting to do a big promo of your new blog sooner than later. :)

  • http://www.lovewellblog.com Kelly @ Love Well

    AMEN!

    (Sorry. You can take the girl out of the Baptist church, but you can’t take the Baptist church out of the girl.)

    I love reading missionary blogs. Not only does it connect me to the people I support – financially or otherwise – but I get a window into what God is doing through their hands and feet and in their hearts. It’s priceless. And it makes the world seem so small.

    Fabulous post! I hope it’s heeded.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Kelly! ha ha. . . .

      And, I agree, I love hearing stories from other people, too- especially about how they are simply doing life in another country. I think it’s all really fascinating. I guess kinda voyeuristic of me, but . . .

  • Tay

    I love reading missionary blogs :). I want to be an overseas missionary someday too, so I read to see what’s it like in the day to day life for those already serving. I’d like to start a blog, but I am not sure what I would blog about right now lol. So I say I’ll wait till I’m doing more interesting things with my life besides school and work. As far as financially giving, for me I like to see “the needs” of that ministry, and see the affect the ministry is having on others. Then it inspires me to donate so you can continue, blessing others.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Tay, love your heart! Though I must say, I bet your could find tons of lessons, tons of good, in the “school and work” everyday, too! :) Thanks for following along!

      L

  • http://www.angiewashington.com @ngie

    thumbs up.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Well, YOU sure do it well . . .

  • http://bt4jc.posterous.com/ Bryan

    So agree with you Laura!

    I’ve been in missions since 1977 and it used to be JUST the printed letter (run off a Gestetner duplicator!!). Now, although it is cheaper than mailing out lots of prayer letters, it is more complicated to communicate well with prayer partners. We have a (brief) family update that goes out weekly by email to many people and then there are a select few who cannot handle the fun of the weekly update 😉 So for them we have a (longer) monthly (sometimes) prayer letter which also goes to the weekly list recipients. Then there is a use of facebook status updates, which I try to do once a day (only), for those who do not do email. Then there are those who follow on Twitter – both the ministry feed and the personal one.

    Despite the above, I have felt like we haven’t done the blog thing well, and I like the timing of your post to help me make the most of two exciting trips – one as a couple and then the second a daddy/daughter trip. Need to get the strategy worked out for this … Thanks for the stir! :)

    God bless you in your work!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Bryan, good to hear your take on communicating with supporters! I’m impressed that you do a weekly email– that’s an awesomely consistent way to stay connected!

      And, man– you guys have been on the field a looonngg time– I’m sure the rest of us could learn from your experience!

  • http://blogs.ntm.org/david-abbott David Abbott

    You are a very good communicator Laura.  Helping missionaries communicate effectively has been one of my passions for over a decade — and some of the reasons you mention for missionaries not having a blog is something at NTM we’ve tried to overcome by providing custom plugins that allow content filtering and posts-by-email.  I will be referring non-blogging missionaries to this post.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Thanks, David– keep up the good work of encouraging missionaries and their communication– it IS really important!

  • Joel Potter

    Very accurate thoughts! Makes me wish I had even more time to devote to communication as a missionary. And I think that it’s absolutely vital for state-side or Home Country missionaries to utilize this as their “followers’ and supporters are so used to this medium. Thanks for writing this!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Totally agree. :) Thanks for stopping in, Joel.

  • Rachel Monger

    I have found blogging a great thing! Not only is it a great way of keeping people informed of what is going on in our lives in Tanzania, but also I personally find it a great way of getting things in perspective as I write things out! Sometimes just in the writing of what we are doing, it is easier to see what is really important in it all, not all the distractions and stresses that can sometimes so easily take over! Reflection is a good thing! Also our kids have a blog (http://mongergirls.com) which is a great way of kids communicating to kids what life is like in another country … and good for their own writing skills! Thanks, Laura! Rachel Monger

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