Building Relationships And Community Takes Time And Requires Effort

Christianblog.com is an amazing and may I say a bit unusual/unique site in that while many come here initially to just blog, they discover this truly is a blogging community. That was a pleasant surprise for me!

I stumbled upon this community back in July 2007 when my son suggested I try blogging. At the time I was reluctant because I didn't want to connect just anywhere. My story is similar to so many. God helped me stumble across it very quickly. I liked what I saw and became a premier member rather quickly as well. I believe it was just within a few days and I made some additional contributions as well.

Four months later, I got diagnosed with breast cancer. I've written about that elsewhere so I won't go into that but the point I wanted to make was I learned first-hand that part of the reason I was here (a bigger part than I initially realized) was because God knew I was going to need to be "connected" with this community.

In my nearly 21 months here, I've seen a lot of people come and go. I've also seen some people who have been here for the long haul. There are people who have been here a long time. I've "listened" to people rejoice about how they have become connected and yet, I've seen people who mutter about their lack of connection. I know that bothers them because if it didn't, they wouldn't be talking about it.

I'm one of those people who feel very connected to others in the Christianblog community so I wanted to write a bit about things you can do to help yourself get connected if you so desire.

I think one of the things you need to remember is developing relationships with others takes time and effort. Rarely does it just happen. Even if you do have those moments when you just "click" with someone, you still must take time to cultivate it. So, the first step in getting connected is to be patient. While there are some who can do this rather quickly, it generally takes time for most of us ordinary mortals unless you're someone like say, Alight who instantly has 1,000 bestest new friends wherever he goes. Hmmm...maybe he should be writing this blog 😉

It is important to remember that although this is cyberspace and you don't see or hear us, we are people. There are still social norms to observe. Manners really are still important...even in a chatroom or on a blog. Behave like you're meeting someone face to face the first time and you'll probably get it right. Give people a moment to feel you out and yourself a chance to feel them out. By the way, if you haven't written a bio/testimony (or much of one), consider doing that ASAP. Whether you're writing blogs, making comments, or just in the chatroom, people to "check you out". They're much more likely to connect with you much quicker if they can quickly find out a bit about you. I hate to say it but not doing a bio/testimony is sending the message "I'm closed. Don't talk to me." That might not be your intent but that's what you're doing.

A lot of people write a blog and then are quickly disappointed because either they get no responses or just one or two. Well, what did you expect? No one knows you yet. I must confess that I read the blogs my friends write first. I'm not going to apologize for that. They're my friends and I'm interested in what they have to say. In case you're wondering, I don't know them in the "outside world". How did I get acquainted with them? Well, I have to tell you, I didn't get acquainted with my closest friends in the chatroom. In fact, while I was going through cancer treatment which was nearly 10 months, I didn't really go in the chatroom much...for obvious reasons. I got acquainted with them through reading their blogs and commenting on them. They got familiar with my name, maybe liked a comment I made, saw my name on a blog and decided to take a look at what I wrote, made a comment and so forth. If you're only going to focus on what you do, you won't get connected with anyone very easily. You see, you would have already made a connection with the person you're interested in...yourself. Lack of comments suggests lack of interest in making connections with others. Again, that might not be the message you want to send but that's how it is probably being interpreted by others within the community.
If you want to be connected you must show interest in others.

The last point I want to make is try to avoid writing inflammatory or divisive blogs...especially at first. Imagine this for a moment. There are a group of friends talking together. A new person approaches and you make room for them. The first thing that comes out of their mouth is an argument. Anytime one of you starts to inject something or express an opinion, the person shouts them down. What would your reaction be? Now, you and your friends might get into some great debates but...you've developed a bit of history with them. You react differently to them, don't you. It seems to me that those who come in fighting usually either leave, appear to be pretty much disconnected from the CB community at large or...end up changing their approach.

Remember, building relationships and getting connected in a community takes time and work. That is true in the "real" world and it is true here as well. If you truly want to get connected, you will be...if you're having difficulty ask God to help you understand why and what you can do to change that. You see, God loves it when His people get connected. God is all about us being connected!

Blessings!

K :princess:

Kirk M @blessings2you ·

Excellent wisdom and I would hope any and all might read this and be blessed by what is said here. We all tend to hit peaks and valleys in our lives and walks with God and in both cases it is vital to have the right hand of friendship extended by loving brothers and sisters to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep".

Whether you look upon this place as a community or a family, the same "rules" apply and thank you "k" for reminding us of them!
B2Y

Joyce Bethy Ferguson @bethy ·

K, I had a great response typed out, and then I went and hit the wrong button and logged myself out:doh:
So I am just gonna say that I think this is a great roadmap not only for the newbees, but also for those of us who have been around a little longer.
Can I also say, that I do wonder when some never seem to read the blogs, never mind take time to respond to even one or two.
I also feel so better connected to those who take the time to answer an odd prayer request, even if it were only with the words... amen.

Hmm Im thinking of a new blog at the moment.. how about... Why ALL Golf clubs should be melted down and turned into coat hangers????
would that come under the heading of inflammatory?

BUT, I love my family here, I feel as if I have connected with some of the nicest most loving and caring people I will ever have the good grace to "meet".
And that is down to all of you, for reaching out the hand of friendship.
YS
.b.

K Reynolds @kreynolds ·

Bethy,

I do think that blog would be very interesting to read 😉
Did I just hear a certain "golfer" yelp in pain at the idea? No...I guess they must be out on the course right now but when they return....well, I'll try to distract them while you grab their clubs. Imagine that...out golfing when there is so much to be done around here!

Seriously, thank you for mentioning that about the prayer requests. It is also an important way to make a connection. I've had people send me messages just to let me know they appreciated it. I know it is more difficult to contact people individually if you're not on their friend's list.

Now that we have limitations (or greater limitations) on our friends list, some may be a bit more discriminating about accepting friends. Blogging, commenting, posting responses to prayer requests, praise reports, chatting, etc. are just a few of the ways to "introduce yourself" besides posting a bio/testimony. People are much more likely to accept your request if you've made yourself visible. Like in the "real world" some of us like to get to know people just a bit first so I would suggest mingling around a bit...you'll find people will even start approaching you rather than you having to do all of the approaching yourself.

I would like to just remind people that a friendship invite should just be used for the purpose of inviting someone to be a friend. I recently had someone send one in which they specifically stated they were just using that as a means to "preach" to me directly as that was the only way they could send me a message. Needless to say, I denied the invitation. That's not the purpose of it and we still need to have good manners...even in cyberspace.

K :princess:

Phillip H Ruby @philruby ·

Wonderful message, K.
For some, this is simply a place to write what's on their minds. For others, it has become a place where relationships with other brothers and sisters are developed. I first came here to write, because I felt that God had laid a message on my heart and I needed to get it out there. It did not take long for me to see a little into the hearts of others through their writing and comments, and realize that fellowship, admonition, and discussion of the Word are also important parts of CB. We are, truly, real people, and not just words on a computer screen, and we need to treat one another accordingly.

Today, with the help of a dear friend here, I have been caused to rethink my approach to blog writing. I was "slapped in the face" with the reality that in trying to get a message across, I can sometimes lean toward bringing down the message of another. That is not the Spirit which causes me to do that. It is either my own emotional responses creeping in, or the influence of the deceiver. He can sometimes twist our best intentions into causes for strife, simply through a poor choice of words.

In short, I take to heart fully your statement that in this place as in any other, good manners are needed. Even when we disagree we can do it gently and with love...and sometimes even better to be still for a while and meditate on the reaction the Spirit of God would have us take.

A thought just now occurred to me: The apostle Paul often wrote letters to the churches around his ministry. He traveled and visited, but then he sent letters when a visit was not possible. The internet is simply todays' form of "letter." We are just as connected in the family of God as Paul was to his brothers and sisters...we just do it much MUCH faster!

Bless you
Phil

Jim Haney @jimbo1968 ·

Great Job K I thought you hit the nail on the head. I know that CB has had very open arms to me since ive been here a little over a year now and I have met some great brothers and sisters here that I so enjoy spending time with. Keep up the Great Work...............Jim

James Clark @bereanjim ·

Hi K, this is a very thoughtful an insightful blog; you offer truth and wisdom. I, much like Philruby (and many others), came here to blog, not to be divisive, not to draw a following. If anyone has ambitions of building a huge following, well, that's their business - I'm sure they probably have valid reasons for wanting to doing so. The point I'm wanting to make is this, there are some people who are more direct and less politically correct; I happen to be one such person. I believe people can be direct, can do so in love and not be divisive. I hope I have done so.

I think it is highly likely that some people leave this site because they do not feel they can freely blog. I am confident in John, the CB leadership, and the CB veterans to address individuals if they get out of line; the Bible offers instructions for doing so. But everyone should feel comfortable with blogging their conscience, as long as they do so in a respectable manner, as you sagaciously pointed out. I'm still not sure this community offers such freedom. Freedom and fairness will allow each the opportunity to find those they relate to. That's the beauty of choosing which blogs you want to read and respond to.

Again, I believe your blog is insightful. I just wanted to offer a different point of view. I hope I am free to do so.

Your brother in Christ,

Berean Jim

John B. Abela @abelajohnb ·

K Reynolds (@kreynolds),

I think you said brilliantly what I have always wanted to share - and in a nearly identical way that I would have said it, but figured it wasn't my place.

There is no doubt that ChristianBlog.Com is a "unique site". I think that what separates this website from all the other "Christian" websites out there. As you so clearly put it "building relationships and getting connected in a community takes time and work" and that is -- without any doubt -- one of the most unique aspects of ChristianBlog.Com - by that I mean that here at CB, because we don't tend to have people arguing every little point we try to make, it provides a place where we WANT to keep coming. For many, it seems, Christianity has been plagued with the "spirit of argument" just as much, if not more so, than the "world" these days. With the primary focus of CB being "a place where you can be blessed and bless others"... I really think that is the pinnacle highlight of what ChristianBlog.Com IS.

[quote=philruby]It did not take long for me to see a little into the hearts of others through their writing and comments, and realize that fellowship, admonition, and discussion of the Word are also important parts of CB.[/quote]

:clap:

[quote=philruby]I have been caused to rethink my approach to blog writing. I was "slapped in the face" with the reality that in trying to get a message across, I can sometimes lean toward bringing down the message of another.[/quote]

I think this is the other defining point between what makes ChristianBlog.Com "different" than websites like blogger.com and other 'blog provider' type of websites. At all those other sites you pretty much just sit there and type away hoping somebody will stumble upon what you write and they make take the time to comment, and there's a 99% chance they will never visit your blog again. But here at CB, because it are both a "blog provider" website and a "community", we all get the added bonus of having an 'already established' group of people who are very likely going to take the time to briefly read/scan your blog and continue to do so each time you blog something. It's just not a case of somebody randomly stumbling upon your blog. Know what I mean? That is, and it is one of the things kreynolds pointed out, what makes CB such a healthy place for us to be able to come to and fellowship together, while sharing what is on our minds in the form of blogs.

[quote=bereanjim]But everyone should feel comfortable with blogging their conscience, as long as they do so in a respectable manner, as you sagaciously pointed out. I'm still not sure this community offers such freedom. Freedom and fairness will allow each the opportunity to find those they relate to. That's the beauty of choosing which blogs you want to read and respond to[/quote]

Yes, you make a very good point here Jim.

Where is the line between "blogging about whatever I want to" and "blogging what ChristianBlog.Com wants me to blog about" ??

I am not really sure I have an answer to this...

What I do feel lead to say is this:

I think the community is the best judge of what to blog about and what not to blog about.

What do I mean by that? Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that some topics get a lot more comments than others. Typically there are those blogs that get a lot of comments because of flame-wars (and blogs I think we should all stay away from) and than there are those blogs that get a good deal of comments because it is speaking to what the CB community is going through in their own life, as a whole.

I have found it truly amazing to see that there are often a good deal of people blogging about the same issue at the same time. It is as if the gates of heaven have opened up and the Holy Spirit is speaking a nearly identical word to different people from around the world all at the same time. Or, at times it is as if Lucifer is trying to get a foot into the door of the lives of Christians, via the same attack via Christians around the world. So, in response the "community" all seems to be sharing what they are going through. I cannot count the times I have seen this happen, and seen how it has helped people get through the events of their lives by all being able to see that they are not alone.

How truly awesome is that!

Does that mean we should all be drone robots and blog about what everybody else is blogging about? Heck no! Outside of a few [internallink=http://www.christianblog.com/content_policy.php]very specific things[/internallink] that CB just plain flat out forbids to be blogged about, I have come to find that CB is pretty open to what can and cannot be blogged about. I just think we should all remember what it was that philruby said above... sometimes you can say things that may not seem to be hurtful that can be hurtful. Totally innocent on your part, but it still may hurt somebody because of a situation THEY are in - not you. The key when this happens, is if they do flame back at you is to remember that we are each going through our own situations in our own life and to remember... If something you say will probably tear down others instead of lifting them up... instead of blessing them... than what is your real motivation for posting something that would tear down another Child of Christ? Why would you do such a thing.

John

Elizabeth Fox @whobelieve ·

Well said K.

And, may I add, that like everyone makes friends a different way, there are different paths we all take, but with some of the same basic elements (which you have posted in your blog). While you stayed away from the chat room and made friends by blogs and comments and such, I jumped right into the chat room and started making friends and feeling my way into the community there. While most of your friends have been found and made elsewhere, mine were mostly found in the chat. The point is what you have written above, that the idea is to take the time to connect and make yourself visible and to be as courteous as you would be if you were meeting face to face.