The State of the Blog (2016)

W.A. Criswell was the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Each new year, on the first Sunday, he would preach a message entitled “The State of the Church.” In these messages he would talk to the congregation about the church’s accomplishments from the previous year and goals for the upcoming year. He would also provide the most current information on the church’s programs, missions work, budget, financial state, etc.

Along these lines, I’d like to use this post to offer what you might call “The State of the Blog.” This will be just a general overview of where things stand right now with this blog. The information is geared toward my regular readers, but anyone is welcome to read it. I hope everybody finds it informative.

In August of 2009, I took the advice of my publisher and began writing the blog as a way to promote my book Straight Talk About God’s Will. What I didn’t know at the time was that the blog would make much more of an impact and have a much longer shelf life than the book. That first year I wrote 114 posts which received a total of 5,172 views. Obviously, many of those viewers were repeat viewers who checked in on the blog regularly, but it’s not like it was just one member of my family visiting the blog over 5,000 times. So, I was very pleased with that first year.

After that initial burst of writing, I scaled back sharply in 2010 and only wrote 29 new posts. The great thing about a blog, though, is that your old posts remain on the site to be found by new viewers each day. That, coupled with the views of the new posts, allowed my views for 2010 to increase a bit to 5,285. Then came 2011, my most prolific year for new material. That year I wrote 198 new posts and the views almost doubled to 10,067. The following year, 2012, I added another 107 posts and the views reached 15,671.

It was along about here, though, that I hit a wall in terms of writing. It’s not that I had run out of things to say or subjects to tackle. The problem was that I was fried. Writers aren’t robots, and sometimes you just have to go on hiatus and regroup. So, in 2013, I only wrote 5 new posts. Again, though, new readers kept finding the old posts and that allowed the views for the year to remain virtually the same as the previous year at 15,126.

And that’s when something really weird happened. In 2014, even though I didn’t write one new post, the blog’s views jumped to 25,924. The funny thing is, I didn’t even know it was happening because I wasn’t paying attention. You see, I had left the blog on the internet as a site frozen in time and had walked away. I hadn’t even bothered to periodically update my personal information, modernize my format, or provide a current picture of myself. None of that mattered, though, as people continued to visit the site each day and read something from it. Go figure.

I didn’t write any new posts in 2015 either, and I guess my inactivity (to say nothing of the now very outdated looking site) finally caught up to me as the views fell to 11,261. Still, though, considering the fact that I didn’t lift a finger to put any work into the blog that whole year, it was a pretty good year in terms of views. Then came 2016, and the blog’s status quo continued into September. That’s when I finally revisited the site, took a fresh look at the numbers, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the views were holding up reasonably well. For all intents and purposes, I had considered the blog-writing season of my life closed and had abandoned the site, and yet people had continued to find and read stuff that I had written. Again, go figure.

So, that’s when the Lord began to rekindle my fire for the blog. I could hear His still, small voice inside me saying, “For over 20 years as a pastor you’ve been wanting the opportunity to teach the Bible to more people, and here I’ve given you a platform for reaching far more people than you’ve ever reached through your pulpit ministry.” Not long afterward I gave the site a new format, updated my personal information and picture, and started writing new posts. Since October 3rd – my 50th birthday – I’ve written 37 new posts, and as of today the blog’s views for the year stand at 14,189. If I had updated the site and started writing new posts in January rather than October, my guess is that 2016 would have broken the 2014 high in views of 25,924.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about this past year is that the views have come from no less 137 different countries around the world. Can you believe that? I’m still having trouble getting my mind wrapped around it. Here is a random sampling of the numbers:

  • United States (10,296 views)
  • Canada (474 views)
  • United Kingdom (447 views)
  • Australia (262 views)
  • India (261 views)
  • South Africa (253 views)
  • Norway (137 views)
  • France (31 views)
  • Italy (29 views)
  • Vietnam (12 views)
  • China (10 views)
  • Japan (7 views)
  • Egypt (4 views)
  • Israel (4 views)
  • Fiji (1 view)

I’ll tell you, folks, the internet is an amazing thing, and kind of scary. I’ve had 6 views each from Namibia and Estonia and 5 from Qatar, and I didn’t even know those three places existed. All I can say is, God bless all those readers.

There are now 490 posts on the blog and the total number of views since 2009 currently stands at 102,698. The top three posts on the all-time list of views are: Does God Want Everyone To Get Married?How Does a Worm Get Inside an Apple?, and What Does the Bible Teach About Divorce & Remarriage?. I will say, though, that if the all-time views for #2 and #3 were combined and that total doubled, it would still fall far short of the views for Does God Want Everyone To Get Married?. The views for that post are now just under 10,000. That humbles me because I wrote that post as a part of a series on marriage, and I only wrote it because I didn’t want the single readers to feel completely left out of the series. That just goes to show how much I know.

Getting back to 2016, the top ten most viewed posts for the year were:

  • Does God Want Everyone To Get Married? (1,618 views)
  • How Does a Worm Get Inside an Apple? (990 views)
  • What Does the Bible Teach About Divorce & Remarriage? (190 views)
  • Why God Hates Gambling (179 views)
  • What a Bird’s Nest Can Teach Us About God’s Will (167 views)
  • The Importance of Spanking a Child (161 views)
  • Church Attendance In the Summer (151 views)
  • Should We Pray Silently To Keep Satan From Hearing? (151 views)
  • Oral Roberts & “Seed Faith” Giving (127 views)
  • The Importance of Individuality In a Child (127 views)

 In regards to the most popular new posts from 2016, here are the top five:

  • Okay, Maybe I Wasn’t Finished (38 views)
  • A Story From the Lighter Side of Politics (31 views)
  • Is God Good All the Time? (part 1 of 3) (23 views)
  • A Bruised Reed & A Smoldering Wick (21 views)
  • False Expectations (16 views)

By the way, I should point out these numbers don’t factor in the number of people who read each of these posts when the post served as the blog’s home page. Hang with me here. When I publish a new post and the alert goes out to the 58 people who follow me via email and the 21 others who follow me on WordPress, if those people read the post that day or anytime before I publish a new post, their views get lumped into the general, nonspecific category of Home Page/Archives. The same can be said for any readers that visit the blog from the Facebook page or Twitter. This explains why 8,285 of the site’s 14,156 views this past year got filed under Home Page/Archives.

Think of it this way: For the most part, no new post gets its own listing on the “views” list until I’ve published another post to replace it as the site’s home page. So, because of this, each new post will get read by considerably more people than its views will eventually indicate. The exact number of extra readers will always be dependent upon how many people read the post when it is the home page, and that number varies from day to day. How often I publish new posts has a lot to do with it too.

Well, anyway, that’s enough of the technical jargon. Now let me close this out with, first, an announcement and, second, a word from the heart. The announcement is that I plan to devote the month of January to posts concerning Bible prophecy. I’m going to call the series “Bible Prophecy In Chronology.” I’ll be writing about topics such as: The Rapture, The Antichrist, The Tribulation Period, The Mark of The Beast, The False Prophet, The Battle of Armageddon, Christ’s Second Coming, and Christ’s 1,000 Year Reign. These posts will begin January 1, and I’m going to try to publish a new one every other day. If I can stick to that schedule, it will produce 15 posts in January. That should complete the prophecy series but if I have to spill over into the early part of February I will. I’m excited about the series and hope that you’ll join me for that journey.

And now for the word from my heart. I simply do not have the language skills to convey how much I appreciate you, the readers of this blog. When I sit down at a computer, work hard to write what I feel is a worthy post, and then hit the “Publish” button, I have absolutely no idea what to expect in return. I feel like a cook for a buffet-style restaurant. It doesn’t matter how many items I prepare or how good they taste, if nobody shows up to eat it’s all for nought. Thankfully, though, every single day some people show up at the blog site to eat, and for that I am beyond grateful. So, as we move now toward 2017, I’ll keep cooking and I hope you’all keep eating. I’ve enjoyed getting back into “blog mode” these past few months and, Lord willing, I’m going to continue churning out new posts for the foreseeable future. How He will use the blog in days to come is anybody’s guess, but if His track record in that department is any indication the blog’s readership will be just fine.

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