THE MAKING OF A BOOK
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PART 16 WHAT’S A BLOG?
After our church disbanded, Rod and I found an Assembly of God new church plant meeting in a temporary facility as they searched for a building. We thought we might avoid problems with church leaders in a small church that had not defined itself and needed help. We were acquainted with the pastor, and he knew about Rod’s background working with children. He also thought God had sent us in preparation for the church to grow. Rod became the children’s pastor, and he assigned me to teach on Wednesday nights.
We soon learned the church had been much larger. Many members had left, and the church had to move to a smaller cheaper facility. I also noted the signs that we were headed for another church failure. Then I attended the annual regional meeting with the national superintendent as the keynote speaker. He gave a list of things to do for churches to become healthy and grow. When he invited us to ask questions, I stood.
“I have been in more than one church that did all the things you said are necessary, and every one of those churches fell apart. Why?”
“They will work if the leadership is clean. God will not bless a church lead by sinful men.”
Made sense to me. I sat down.
The following Sunday, our pastor requested a meeting with Rod and me after service. He was genuinely concerned about me. He had discerned I needed healing, and he was going to heal me.
Rod and I looked at each other, then back at the pastor. We did not have a clue what he was talking about.
He finally told me I should not have asked the national superintendent “that question.”
Why did I need healing because I asked an honest question and received a wise answer that I appreciated? Was it the question I asked that made this pastor uncomfortable or the superintendent’s answer. I doubted the pastor of a church in decline, who got sermon ideas watching Oprah, and filled most of his sermons claiming he had forgiven a pastor who hurt him had enough of God’s wisdom to heal himself much less heal me. A month later, the pastor preached his last sermon and closed the church.
While we prayed about where we should go next, I found a Christian writing group on the Northshore. I had been attending the Southern Christian Writers Guild for several months when the Northshore Bureau Chief for NOLA.com was introduced as the guest speaker. She shared her film making and writing experiences and then invited the members of the Guild to post articles to a new feature on NOLA.com – The Faith, Beliefs and Spirituality Blog.
“What’s a blog?” inquired one of the guild members.
Blog is short for Web Log. Whenever someone posts an article, the top article moves down forming a log of material on a specific subject. All interested Guild members would be assigned a password to the blog, so we could post an article on the theme of faith, beliefs, or spirituality at our discretion. I had a lot of Bible lessons at home that could have been fodder for the new blog, but I had moved on to writing short fiction stories and skits.
My first fiction story, “Eliohym’s Words”, about a wavering angel, was a best seller on the now defunct Amazon Shorts program. I had planned to write a series of stories about Waver, the name of the main character which also described his nature. But Amazon.com’s exclusive contract prohibited me from using the material elsewhere. The skits I wrote were my only option for NOLA’s new blog.
“What about videos of skits performed by my drama team?”
“That would be a great idea,” she replied.
I left the guild interested but not enthused. Until I did some research. At that time, NOLA.com was the sole internet affiliate of the Times Picayune, the largest newspaper in the state of Louisiana. The stats were phenomenal. The website received millions of page views monthly. Most of the viewers are not looking for something religious, but that much traffic guaranteed an audience for the blog and gave me a platform.
A venue for an author to expose their work to an audience is important for a writer. There is no point in writing if no one reads it and it’s the first thing a publisher looks for when considering new authors. She had not offered compensation. I settled for the compensation of a “platform” thinking I would be one of many contributors. I planned to post the videos of my skits and write an occasional devotion.
When I received my password, I posted an article I had written about my sister’s long struggle with drug abuse and followed that article with a testimony of an answered prayer. A smattering of other articles appeared on the blog from the other writers. Then I posted “Immigration”, the video of a skit I co-wrote with a friend about three people attempting to enter Heaven.
While attending a minister’s meeting, the Presbyter talked about the miraculous rebirth of House of Prayer that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. “Someone should record these stories,” he said. I knew the pastor of the church, so I did. I made a video of the pastor and his wife talking about their journey from youth pastors to senior pastors, the loss of their church after Hurricane Katrina, and their decision to rebuild. I edited the video into a six-part series and released one part on the blog weekly.
One day, I noticed that I was the only one posting to the blog and wondered if I was wasting my time. I contacted the Northshore bureau chief. “I thought writing for the blog was a collaborative effort.”
My statement, more of a question, was met with silence. She didn’t know why the others were not posting material. My next question, “Can you tell me if anyone is reading the blog?”
“I’ll check and let you know,” she said.
Several days later, she sent me an email with the stats. “The blog is widely read” began the email. Since its inception it had received 400 unique views weekly, an average of 2,000 people visited the blog monthly. In the words of one pastor, “That is more than most churches average in attendance.”
The Northshore Bureau Chief had envisioned a community of writers submitting witty prose about the spirituality of New Orleans. She got a community of one – me. God had given me a venue larger than the combined church attendance of the pastors who suppressed my talents. Learning the blog was widely read gave me something worthwhile to do, but I continued to look for a place of service in the church.
TO BE CONTINUED…