Tallskinnykiwi on Problogger and why the Reformed bloggers are beating the Emerging Bloggers

My humble little blog gets a mention and a link today in Darren’s Problogger blog [one is the biggest blogs in the world] as “the first blog that I had ever read”. Thanks! Darren’s post is about the place of links in today’s blogging world. He ends with 2 tips from Matt Cutts for attracting links:

1) making great content that will attract links in the first place, and 2) choosing a site architecture that makes your site usable/crawlable for humans and search engines alike.โ€

A related converstation is Ed Stetzer on the recent Top 100 Church Blogs where the new Reformed bloggers have ousted the emerging church bloggers from their leading spots. I like Ed’s ideas of why that may have happened but I would also add a few of my own.

1. Many emerging church bloggers do not run “church” blogs but rather, in true missional fashion, they host blogs in many areas of life and culture. Or in the case of Darren Rowse, pro blogging,

2. Many emerging church blog readers use RSS feeds and dont bother turning up anymore, except on special occasions, on the actual blog.

3. Social media sites and microblogging is, I guess, more common in the EC scene and certainly more common among the females (Ed notes this also) so the big clunky text-based theological sites are often left to the Reformed men to run.

4. People just dont link anymore like they used to, as Darren was saying today, and the results show up.

5. The emerging controversies and conversations were huge a number of years ago but are now a more accepted part of the church and mission landscape. The new reformed movement, on the other hand, has generated some fresh controversy in certain denominations that will not be named [ . . . OK . . . Southern Baptist!] and controversy generates buzz which generates LINKS and links lead to rankings.

Have I missed anything?

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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • becky says:

    Andrew excellent points as always – once Emergent became dead as a brand with specific blogs, books, etc. then you saw some really interesting things emerge.
    The individual emerging church blogs that made the list – e.g., yours and Jonnys have very much a communal feel to them. If you look at some of the Reformed blogs, it’s very much a one man show – a model that obviously still has appeal in some circles but the more group oriented models seem to be where those interested in the emerging conversation gravitate. The Emergent Village website has a much more communal feel for example.
    Also, at least for us chicks, blog battles tend to be nasty and rather messy – we lack the ontological equipment needed to engage in said matches. You have created a safe haven where we can chat without having to don a raincoat first. If you look at the actual conversations on these type of blogs, you’ll often see that it’s a small handful of folks making a lot of noise – so my guess is that the actual stats are much lower than the # of comments would indicate on first glance.
    I don’t have a personal blog because I contribute to the Religion Dispatches, Killing the Buddha and God’s Politics blogs (and occasionally get asked to contribute pieces elsewhere). I like this as it let’s me play in a lot of playgrounds with a number of different kids instead of trying to get everyone over to my site to play with me – I am trying to explore models other than the author/reader that have a more communal feel. My observation is that a number of other folks follow suit.

  • It’s so funny how I start to feel sorta panicky whenever I hear that “Reformed beats Emerging” on anything. I suppose there are worse things that could happen than folks buying “Jonathan Edwards is My Homeboy” T-shirts. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I think the main difference is that people in the Reformed tradition tend to to place a higher value on authority figures than do emerging/emergent people. My Reformed friends would stand by John Piper if he said that the moon was made of green cheese, and so they return to his site regularly to read his take on whatever is going on in the world. Furthermore, the Reformed perspective is pretty consistent from blogger to blogger, leader to leader, church to church. So when certain prominent Reformed voices rise to the top, they have a solid base of like-minded readers from which to develop loyalty.
    Besides being difficult to define, the emerging/emergent movement seems to include a wider variety of leaders with a wider variety of perspectives. So, for example, I might read Jesus Creed every day without fail, but not Tony Jones or Brian McLaren (who I check out maybe once a week). As “emergers,” our loyalties are more divided. Plus, I’d like to think that we are more open to independent thought, which means we aren’t as dependent on one or two authority figures to tell us what to think all of the time.
    When you think of Reformed, you think of John Piper. When you think of Emerging, you think of…well…a lot of people. I suppose some would probably say Brian McLaren. Perhaps it would help if Brian would leave room for comments on his blog, as Piper does!
    Finally, I would like to see more from the ladies, for sure! But when it comes to writing/speaking/blogging about theology, it is still a man’s world. As a first-time author and relatively new blogger, I’ve found that this seems to be because a lot of these guys met in seminary, studied theology for years, and became pastors or speakers with faithful audiences.
    Women are still playing catch up because of years of limitations and continued resistance to their ordination and leadership. The men have connections that go way back, as well as the training that makes them more qualified to speak about theology.
    It’s been hard breaking in.

  • becky says:

    Oh another point I forgot to make – a lot of the emergent blogs have an academic focus. There will always be people gathering around the academic water cooler (and I drink from that sometimes – I can’t do my work without people like NT Wright shining the light to help guide me along). But I sense that people are looking for something deeper – similar to when Henri Nouwen left Yale for the L’Arche Community.

  • david says:

    good perspective, Andrew. you’ve provided some stellar counter-points for consideration.

  • Tsk says:

    Thanx becky and David
    I miss the controversial stuff, and the extra activity but I really can’t handle it when I am traveling. But sometimes I wish I could go back to the raincoat days.

  • I must be getting old mate…
    I’d forgotten it was a competition ๐Ÿ™‚ As a matter of interest were there any southern hemisphere bloggers included in the lists?
    Sometimes those lists remind me of what Americans call ‘World Series Baseball’…
    Sorry – a tad cynical this morning!

  • becky says:

    Andrew – no they’re weren’t. The rise of emerging/underground church in the global church scene came up at the Global Roundtable held during the Slot Festival. This isn’t a global south blog per se but check out the Latino Leadership Circle, a Latino emerging cohort. Pretty interesting stuff.

  • Mike Clawson says:

    The reason why Reformed bloggers are out-stripping emerging bloggers on this list seems pretty obvious to me: the original 181 blogs from which this list was compiled were personally selected by one guy (Kent Shaffer) based on his own perception of “well known” blogs. So if Reformed blogs predominate, it’s most likely a reflection of his own personal preferences/perceptions.
    On a very much related note, I notice that only THREE of the top 100 blogs are by women. My suspicion is that this is for exactly the same reason.

  • Fred Wolfe says:

    IMHO, The Emerging churchy kind of organic conversational hippie stuff will die the same death as MC Hammer pants. It’s a fad, and fads die out. When people get tired of conversing (and they almost always do), they want to arrive somewhere. In my experience, that can’t happen in an “Emergent” enviroment, be that a blog, or a cohort, or a church.

  • Chad Brooks says:

    I also think that the reformed viewpoint encourages a type of praxis that involves formal processes that blogging appeals to. I also think that many of the people that would/should or used to write are just to busy to keep up with it now. The EV perspective will die out, but I think the core idea of “emerging” (especially its continental and UK variants) will continue to be a method of sorting faith out in the 21st century.

  • Patrick Oden says:

    I thought emerging folks didn’t care about numbers. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I think Mike is probably right about the selection standard.
    Also, from what I have seen lately, there’s been a bit of a, well, lull in a lot of emerging blogging. A lot of bloggers who were heavy bloggers a few years ago now have one or two posts a month, if that. I think Fred is wrong about emerging going anyway–mostly because emerging reflects a “fad” that is pretty common throughout church history, but with the advent of blogs and global communication has given the small pockets a network of connection.
    More, I think that the emerging church went through a splintering the last years, with different people doing different things, and some more camps formed. As this has happened the last few years, I’ve noticed a lot of emerging people entering into a time of reflection.
    I think emerging is deepening and spreading, but quietly now, as people step back from the public wrestling. Reformed blogs always have such a deep well of content already they can more easily thrust it at whatever current social or ecclesial issue is out there.
    One might also say that there’s maybe more of a line of ascent in Reformed blogging than in emerging blogging now–with a more clear path of how to be a hired hand, popular author, or influential voice. So, blogging still has the working resume quality that emerging blogs used to have but don’t as much anymore.
    Mostly though, I think it’s because emerging is deepening and those involved are quieter in this process as they look for what this means for them and their movement. The recent emergent conference with Moltmann says to me that emerging folks are still very passionate about church and theology, with this passion finding new words and new hope with the help of some established thinkers.

  • Andrew says:

    Fred, your comment sounds more like a wish…
    I wonder too if much of blogging is just arguing… and emergents, as a group, may have fell into some of that for awhile but have backed off… Whereas for a lot of the new reformed crowd arguing is bread and butter, and if it isn’t one topic, it’s another.

  • andrew jones says:

    interesting, andrew.
    another reason bloggers under that old “emerging” banner no longer use the label is because they are tired of being linked with certain groups or certain countries.
    if there is a lull in the blogging, there certainly isnt a lull in the mission activity and planting of churches, esp. in the global south. some people are doing more but talking about it less.

  • Good viewpoint, Andrew. you’ve offered some outstanding counter-points for concern.

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