A lot can happen in one year. By God’s grace, one year ago yesterday I launched Dwight Gingrich Online as a vehicle for sharing the biblical and ecclesiological concerns stirring in my 40-year-young heart. While I can’t say my feeble blogging efforts have turned the world upside down, my own world, and the world of my family, has been radically changed.

This post shares some of my reflections on my first (and hopefully not last) year of hosting a website and blog.

Posting Statistics

Total non-blog web pages: 31
Total blog posts: 94
(plus 52 historical posts copied from Facebook)
Busiest month: November, 2014 and January, 2015—12 posts each
Slowest month: February and June, 2015—4 posts each

Average blogging time per post: 4.936 hours (based entirely on unverified personal perception, authorial weariness, and keyboard wear)

General Traffic Statistics

Total views: 51,970 (This includes maybe 1000 prior to launch.)
Total visitors: 20,884
Busiest month: May, 2015 or October, 2015
(In May 3,278 visitors made 7,937 views, attracted mostly by a series of posts on Anabaptists and tradition. This month has already seen 3,518 visitors, and may also break records for views.)
Busiest single day: October 8, 2015 (1,116 visitors made 1,404 views on the day I posted “In Which a Strange Plan is Hatched on Facebook.”)
Busiest day of the week: Monday (25% of all views)
Busiest time of the day: 7:00 a.m.
(CST, I think!)
Total comments: 732 (Minus 302 by Yours Truly. Award for busiest commentator goes to Wayne Horst.)
Blog subscribers: 149 (plus various Facebook, Feedly, and other followers)

Most-Read Blog Posts

  1. Prayers for Conservative Anabaptist Churches (2,002 views)
  2. In Which a Strange Plan is Hatched on Facebook (1,842 views)
  3. “The Holy Scriptures Must Be Our Written Standard” (1,774 views)
  4. Churchfunding a House in Atlanta: Official Launch (1,728 views)
  5. “Christian Atheists” — Guest Post by Frank Reed (1,230 views)
  6. Anabaptists, Flat Bibles, and the Sabbath (1,061 views)
  7. A Is for Atlanta (1,046 views)
  8. Thinking Intentionally about Tradition and Change (838 views)
  9. What I Learned at AIC 2015 about How to Use the Bible (796 views)
  10. Is a “Radical Lifestyle” a Hurdle for Seekers? (770 views)

Most-Visited Website Pages

  1. About Me (1,310 views)
  2. A Beginners’ Bible Reading Plan (1,139 views–I’m thrilled with this stat!)
  3. Essays (749 views)
  4. Recommended Commentaries — Introduction (681 views)
  5. Music (557 views)

 Worth Special Mention

  • I shared several series of posts, including a 6-part series called “Giving to and through the Church” (see here), a 7-part series called “Ecclesiology of the Reformers,” based on a book by Timothy George (see here), and an informal “series” of posts on Anabaptists and tradition, beginning roughly with this late-April quote from David Bercot and ending with twin posts entitled “Tradition in the NT: Bad Examples” and “Tradition in the NT: Good Examples.” (By the way, I have been secretly disappointed that my “bad examples” post has been viewed more often than the “good examples” post, since it is in the latter that I gave my best shot at explaining what the NT actually does teach about tradition!)
  • One of Mom’s poems, “Jesus in the Room”—about sexual sin and/or abuse, surprised us both with the positive response it rapidly received. It has been a great honour (Canadian spelling for the moment!) to share one of Mom’s poem’s each month (see here). To the extent that I have some writing ability, you now know I’ve come by it honestly.
  • It was also a special honor to share a post about my father-in-law Albert Mast’s memorial service, complete with obituary and the sermon I was invited to give. This was a great opportunity to share on one of my favorite, world-framing truths—resurrection!
  • I still invite more feedback on my essay draft about Mennonites and ordinances, and I still hope to rework that essay within the next year or so.

Things I’ve Learned (or Re-learned) while Blogging

  • Good writing is hard work and takes a lot of time.
  • Posting a good piece of writing takes even more time–adding links and tags and categories, preparing the post for search engines, making it easy for people to comment, etc. Since my goal is to have a website that is searchable and indexed as an ever-growing resource and not merely some here-today-gone-tomorrow musings, these things take time.
  • Falling short of your goals is better than not attempting any goals at all. I’ve written fewer book reports than I’d hoped, I haven’t kept the “Events for Bible Students” calendar up to date, I’ve failed to post Linford Berry’s videos on sermon prep, I haven’t started that series of guest posts about the value of training in Bible interpretation, my family photo is now 2 years old, and I’ve never had the time to launch a “Q and A” feature as some have wished. But what God has accomplished through DGO has encouraged me!
  • It is really, really hard to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). The post where I was perhaps most specific in my “prophetic assessments” was the one about the Anabaptist Identity Conference (actually, there were a few). The response to this post was mostly positive—based, at least, on what was said to me! I even had a church leader I’ve never met call me up to thank me for the post. But I also discovered in personal conversation with one of the AIC organizers (a dear brother in Christ) that my post was painful for him, and that we don’t see eye-to-eye on some significant secondary matters about church life. I love this dear brother and deeply respect his testimony for Christ. And I love all my brothers and sisters with whom I disagree. Family disagreements are no fun at all. I made one or two minor edits to the post and left it standing. Maybe in the future one or both of us will make further edits to our understandings? My deepest desire is to help build up the church of Christ (Eph. 4:16), yet I wrestle with how best to do that.
  • We conservative Anabaptists, unlike the scholarly academic guild, have no widely-accepted protocols for how to disagree with each other in print. We are not used to the public assessment of each other that happens in, say, the book review section of a peer-reviewed journal. How do those ways of assessing each other’s ideas fit with an Anabaptist focus on brotherly love and one-on-one Matthew 18 confrontation? And especially when your primary interaction with the brother at hand is via publicly-shared books or recorded sermons? And when the disagreement is about secondary doctrinal differences and not moral failings unlike in Matthew 18)? Again, I want to learn more about “speaking the truth in love.”
  • Both truth and our response to truth are important. That’s one reason I’ve been excited to include Mom’s poems here—she brings an element of reflection and worship that my posts don’t always directly include, but which is important to me.
  • Lots of people are really hungry for solid biblical answers. Blogging is connecting me with people all over whom I’ve never met. Some of them have sent private messages with theological and practical questions. There continues to be a need for careful Bible study and clearly-articulated answers.
  • The church is bigger than I know. Blogging has connected me with Anabaptists of many kinds from all over, and also with others beyond (such as Anabaptist-watcher Arthur Sido and Baptist author/missionary Dave Black).
  • I enjoy tracking blog stats, am capable of spending too much time doing so, and have a daily need to surrender the popularity of my blog to God.
  • You never know who is reading what you share online. (I’ve been surprised when an author commented on a review I wrote of his book!)
  • You often can’t tell beforehand which posts will gain the biggest response. So, in faith, you keep throwing your words to the wind…
  • Only about half of your subscribers will actually read each post. So, in faith, you keep throwing your words to the wind…
  • There is a lot of noise online. Fewer quality posts are often better than many shallow ones. And addressing current events and controversies isn’t always the most important thing to do.
  • Blogging can change your life…

How Blogging Has Changed My Life

This could be a long essay, but I’ll keep it short: Who would have every guessed a year ago that this blog would lead us to pick up roots and plan a move to Atlanta, GA? God alone knows what this move will bring. (Or even if it will actually happen—oh the joys of house-hunting and waiting on God’s timing! No, we have not given up.) But I’m amazed and blessed that God can use a series of ordinary “coincidental’ events to guide his people! You can read about this here.

I wonder how blogging might change our lives in the next year…

Thank You

I give my hearty thanks to each of you who have supported me in my blogging efforts! You have greatly encouraged me.

As I look ahead to the next year of blogging, I want to give this website again to God. May he bless it for as many days as it brings glory to his name!

Finally, despite an unusually large number of recent posts that are personal in nature, the purpose of this website remains the same: This website exists to build up the Church of Jesus Christ by helping her listen carefully to the Scriptures.

I repeat my invitation to help hold me accountable to this end.

For Christ and his Church,

I welcome you to join me in reflecting on the past year of DGO. Was there a specific post I didn’t mention there that especially helped you? Do you have any advice to give me for the next year? How do you think a website with the goals I’ve identified can best help build the church, Anabaptist and beyond? Share your insights in the comments below.