Youth ministry, student ministry, youth group, youth pastor, blogging

Was It Worth the Clicks?

By Angie Franklin August 12, 2014

Changing minds, influencing others, selling products, building platforms, gaining an audience—these are the reasons we write our notes to the world. Or maybe you’re that unique “agenda-less” person who simply wants to put it out there, to write a post or an article like a journal left open on the kitchen table. Then, for some reason or another, people read it and pass it on. The readership grows. The clicks increase. Before long we find ourselves feeding the monster, writing a new post, better than the last, more interesting, more provocative, more earth shattering.

This pattern makes sense. Plain old, heard-it-a-million-times-before titles and topics don’t draw readers. So we search for an edge, something to make heads jerk. Now our articles bear titles that drip with divisiveness and promote a “new” perspective. We tackle the gray areas that stir up angst and attract comments. When our conscience strikes, we make sure not to tell lies, but that doesn’t mean we gave the truth a fair shake. Sometimes we write this way in the name of authenticity or personal processing. At worst, we are ranting or venting, seeking a way to decompress and discover that others support us. Either way, these posts get the clicks. They add to the platform and manufacture a feeling of validation. And after all is said and done, they made us feel not-so-alone and brought meaning to a piece of our existence. But was it worth it?

James 3:1–2 says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”

I know what you’re thinking: I’m not a teacher. I’m just interacting, living in community, being real. But the connection between a post/blog/tweet/article and its readers is very similar to the connection between a teacher and a student. Maybe your motivation wasn’t to change minds or influence others. But whether you like it or not, your readers are taking notes. A writer saying, “I don’t want to be a teacher,” isn’t far removed from a celebrity like Charles Barkley saying, “I’m not a role model.” Maybe that wasn’t his intention, but that doesn’t mean younger fans didn’t try to imitate him. The same is true of public writing. It is, at its core, influential—whether we want it to be or not.

And that’s a huge responsibility. These notes to the world are powerful, almost uncontainable. Like tiny sparks that set a forest on fire, they spread forcefully and quickly. (Sound familiar?) Their impact will be evaluated.

In Ephesians 3:1–3, Paul writes, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient; bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

After the damage has been done, the seeds sown, and the smoke settled, we must ask ourselves, Were the clicks worth it? Not, Did I make a sale? Not, Did I gain more followers? Not, Do I feel better? Or, Did I win? Or, Was I technically right? No, the only question worth asking as we stick to Christ and follow him with our whole lives is Was it worth it?

About the Author

Angie Franklin

Angie Franklin is the Director of Operations at LeaderTreks and has worked in youth ministry since 2000. She loves serving youth workers who are in the trenches by providing them with practical resources. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and now lives in West Chicago, Illinois with her husband, Doug, and their dog,…  Read More