Saturday, March 11, 2006

A simple blog has power to influence 1,000,000's of lives. It has the potential to influence more people than any event in human history. That's the subject of the following email - to encourage my church to start putting together a blog so that we can help our members and reach out to others.

Dear Paris, Rich, Cesar, Marlon, Jun, Phil

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith"
Heb 12: 1-2

Thanks for your interest in AMS blog suggestion. I might not be able to address all your questions as they require more direction and thought than I am able to give at this moment. Keep the above scripture in mind though, as you read this email.

Firstly, if you don't know what a blog is, my short explanation is that a blog is pretty much like a ".com" web page. But unlike a web page, its usually personal and requires frequent updating. People love to follow blogs, its sort of like a mini soap opera of someone else's life. If you click the following link you can read this email from my own personal blog: or you can continue reading, but skip to the next paragraph. Hi welcome and thanks for clicking through. As you can see, I have my passport picture posted at the top, a description and purpose, a profile below the picture, archieves, more pictures, more articles etc. Its a place where I record my QT, ideas and strange things that comes up during the day - that in short is what a blog is supposed to be all about. Oh and while you're here can you read an article and place a comment - that way I'll know who has read this email, and plus I don't like all the zero comments : ) thanks!

Blogs are also used by big companies to communicate with their customers. Although a large majority of the blog traffic on the internet originates from the US, there is a community of bloggers in the Philippines. The large majority seem to range from 18-30 year olds and use Friendster or to communicate their thoughts.

Search engines such as Google and Yahoo send out robots to crawl and index fresh & specific content on the net. As you may have noticed in the last few months, more and more blogs are appearing on the top 10 search results. This is not a big surprise if you keep in mind that search engines like Google send bots that are programmed to crawl for fresh content, and that more and more content is now generated by some unknown individual who likes nothing better to do than to sit down and blog away during their spare time.

Companies like Nokia, Starbucks and Burger King are now beginning to venture into blog ads. Nokia, for example began marketing their phones through blog ads or "buzz marketing" as it is commonly called now. From what I hear, the Nokia phone they used to test in the blog market had all the bell and whistles that you would expect from a high tech camera (don't ask me the make and model, i don't even own a cell phone). Nokia approached 10 active bloggers with quite a large following. Without offering any incentives or instructing the bloggers to write any special article (though, secretly I think they were praying for them to); Nokia instead had the phones activated and sent to each of the blog author. After a week, ten of the authors wrote about the new phones they had received ... a few days ago. Eight of the authors experimented, taking pictures and videos, and posting them on their own web blogs whenever and wherever they could. They tried out the other features and discussed the spec's with their readers. The amazing thing was that people who frequented their blogs also went out and brought the same cell phone. Keep in mind that these are not the savvy, techie type reader; for many of them, it was their first time to even own a cell phone! Never-the-less, the discussions in those blogs generated such buzz and momentum that other readers started to go and check out what the fuss was all about. Other readers went on to share what they were learning in other blogs, thus causing more and more buzz and hype that vibrated throughout the whole blog community.

The point of the story is this - that blogs can be, and are an effective form of communication. And not only as a means for communication, but blogs give us the power to share our faith and to make a greater impact than whatever impact we were able to make in the past. Period.

As I've said, search engine bots love to crawl the net looking for fresh and original content to index and post on search results. Content is king on the internet. It takes months to build good, orginal and high quality content. Content we may not have, but original and high quality work - that we can easily tap into and produce. We have plenty of interesting people, with experience and talent in the AMS family of believers. I personally believe that God has blessed AMS with these talents and abilities; not so that we can brag or boast ... or in our case, stay silent - but to use these God given talents, abilities and influences to encourage, to build up, and to grow his Church - in order that we and the rest of the world may give him the honour, praise and glory. If content is king, and if good content stays on the net, we can capture not only the attention of the Philippines but the whole worldwide web.

Here are a few of my suggestions for the AMS blog:

* have an information type blog, where people can find specific spiritual articles - i.e raising up kids, finances, church updates etc...;
* record sermons for people to download;

* record sermon lessons in written form;
* have different disciples write for 1 week their Quiet Time in the AMS blog instead of in their QT journal;
* collect donations for Layte mudside, Hope projects, special causes etc;
* post up prayer requests;
* put up inspiring music, songs; showcase our unique AMS talent through streaming video,
* post reviews of our favorite restaurants, hotels, shopping guide, etc. for overseas visitors;
* post weekly devotional lessons;
* have people write up their own testimonies;
* ask people to write up their quiet times;
* invite a special speaker, elder, writer, author for an interview;
* post a calender of church events;
* have somebody review and recommend their favorite spiritual book;
* have members volunteer to post their picture and favorite scripture;
* allow people to sign up for newsletters;
* show map locations of where we meet for service;
* take polls;
* ask people to post and share their QT - I'll say that one again for the third time, just in case you missed it the other two times - ASK DISCIPLES TO CONTRIBUTE AND POST THEIR QUIET TIME - people can learn & can be inspired from reading the thoughts and hearts of other disciples.

I think a blog that is both independent of church influence, but written and run by faithful and mature men and woman of God will help more disciples form their own natural convictions. It should be both informative, encouraging and a place for community and for open sharing.

Below are some example blogs that I took from doing a Google keyword search on "spiritual journey blog". These individual aren't known or heard off by us. Infact, I've not even heard of them. But as of this moment in our history, their article is in the top 10 search results list.

I don't know the numbers or how accurate I'll be. As I close out this letter, I'm pretty sleepy and its way past 1:30am in the morning for my mind to functioning at its peak. But I'm going to try and make some pretty wild guesses - more based on conviction and faith than anything of close to scientific accuracy. According to the Internet World Stats report as of December 2005, there are over 1.01 billion internet users worldwide. Now lets be a little absurd and say that 1% (or over 10 million people) were online surfing the net today; and again lets take another absurd guess and say that only 1% of the 10 million online users (or over 1 million users) was able to read English and actually typed up the keyword "spiritual blogs". And of course to make it even more improbable, lets say that only another 1% (10,000) actually clicked through and read any one of the web blogs articles that I mentioned. Finally, lets say that only 1% or only a thousand of those users were actually influenced by the blog authors opinion. Amazingly, 1,000 online number of users would have been influenced by only one writer. That means that 1,000 persons would have been given the choice to spend the rest of eternity with or without Him. Whether I'm statistically correct or not is irrelevant- the point is can we use this tool to bring glory to God? With these figures in mind, the effort of putting together a blog pales in comaprison to the impact that we can have for Gods church, for reaching out to others and for His glory.

The ball is in your court.

Your brother in Christ


Blogger CE Reid said...

Bravo Toby,

Your are right on point with a single blog potentially impacting millions of people.

It's a great thing you are doing by introducing blogging to your Church. Your letter was well written and stated facts which showed much research on your part.

I maintain quite a few blogs and have been in the IT field for quite a few years. If need you need help with implementing ideas for Church blog, I am at your service.

Here's an idea. The church blog could be a very functional as a fund raising tool. There are quite a few ways to make a blog profitable. At the same time you can develop your skills and reputation as a professional blogger.

Keep up the good work!!

C. E. Reid

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