It’s the end of 2015, so here’s the 15 top blog articles of the year!
By the Numbers
What posts have had the highest readership in 2015? This year has been a paradox: the lowest number of articles published this year (110), and yet the highest readership since 2012.
For our end of the year, we’ve broken out the Methodist-related posts from the rest, so as to not annoy our ecumenical readership. Our rankings are based on Facebook Insights (views and engagements) and Google Adsense (pageviews). I don’t keep stats other than what is default for those two services, so these are based solely on a compilation of these two sources.
I wish I had some arbitrary choices as some of my favorites are NOT on the list, but the numbers don’t lie.
Top 5 Articles (General Topics)
- Clergywomen are not equal to men. A churchy version of the excellent viral letter by Jared Mauldin on female engineers.
- To Reach the Nones and Dones, Focus on the Ones. While church people fret about the Nones (who don’t affiliate with church) and the Dones (who are SO DONE with church), real transformation can come when churches focus on the group they can have the highest impact on: The Ones.
- Romans 1 isn’t anti-gay–it’s just plagiarized that way. The Bible is missing a critical quotation mark, one that would properly frame Romans 1 as an argument that Paul is actually writing AGAINST.
- “Do You Believe in God?” is the Wrong Question. Since pastoring in the None Zone and witnessing lots of evangelical conversations, it strikes me there’s a better beginning to a conversation than “Do You Believe in God?” And there’s a handy chart!
- Pastors who say “If you don’t like us, then…” In conversations with visitors to my church, I’ve made a habit of one particular phrase that I’m trying to decide if it is characteristic of post-Christian culture, or all Christians who are being hospitable to visitors.
Commentary: These are all over the map, and that’s good: that means our community is diverse! But three of them have to do with reflections on being in the None Zone specifically (Nos. 2,4,5). I think people are reading either because they are in the None Zone with me, or they are anxious about creeping secularism coming to their doorstep–and want to read from a practitioner in the field already.
Top 5 Articles in United Methodism
- The Nazarenes are running off their Progressives. Is the UMC next? This guest post from a former Church of the Nazarene pastor and seminarian is a cautionary tale against uniformity of thought and schismatic efforts in The United Methodist Church.
- Doing Away with the Western UMC? There are at least two current efforts to eliminate the West and gerrymander their influence away. Take a read on why the West matters for the future of The United Methodist Church, whether you live there or not.
- Church Flipping: Who Really Bought, Broke, and Wants to Sell the UMC? The persistent narrative is that progressives have driven The United Methodist Church off a cliff for 40 years and Conservative Evangelicals need to take the wheel to save Wesleyanism. But a brief history check shows who needs to take more responsibility for the present situation–and who is trying to sell the UMC short.
- The Spong Book that was Axed by the UMC. Bishop John Shelby Spong recently shared how one of his best-selling books was almost a United Methodist book, unveiling a pivotal moment inThe United Methodist Church when honest conversations about human sexuality began to be systematically ground into dust.
- Why is a Top 100 UMC recruiting their new Senior Pastor? Since pastors in The United Methodist Church are typically assigned, it’s odd to see a church “recruiting” their new senior pastor. Do our Megachurches operate under different rules than the rest of us?
Commentary: United Methodism is a large church with a long history and a host of mutually-opposed constituencies. It’s attractive to folks to see controversies that are addressed reasonably in 1,000 word articles, and a progressive take on a dominant-conservative church denomination.
Top 5 Articles with Staying Power
These posts are from prior to 2015, but continue to be shared either because of current events or that they simply have staying power in Google searches and people’s questions.
- Look, Nerds, Jesus was NOT a Zombie. OK, Halloween people, dressing up like Zombie Jesus is offensive. No, not because of that, because it’s inaccurate.
- A Primer on Atonement Theories: There’s a variety of understandings of when God and humanity were reconciled; here’s a repost of a helpful chart outlining those variety of atonement theories.
- Why do the largest UMCs not have female pastors? One of my favorite posts from our “UMC and Big Data” series looks at women in ministry in the United Methodist Church. This got a lot of hits due to its similarity to a study released this year.
- Christmas Carols for Progressives. Christmas carols are great, but for progressives, some of the language can be off-putting. Here’s a collection of revised carols for progressives to sing under their breath–or perhaps churches can use instead of the traditional texts!
- What’s a Methodist to do with Beth Moore? While her numbers have dropped from 2014, this post still continues to resonate with Bible-Belt Methodists who seek to deal with this Calvinist intrusion into their churches.
Riding a Methodist wave?
Three reasons why this community’s biggest articles are overwhelmingly from the niche constituency of the United Methodist Church:
- This blog does the work. By analyzing weird Methodist numbers and history, this blog does the work that few others are willing to do. It’s not terribly hard, but unless you have a passion for it and the know-how of how to get the data compiled, it’s not going to come easily. Thankfully this blog fills that niche of being the Nate Silver of the UMC by combining available data with an ability to draw forth informed conclusions from it.
- Folks are hungry for progressive commentary about the United Methodist Church. The loudest voices tend to be conservative, and the largest churches tend to be conservative. Hence the readership of this blog is hungry for progressive commentary and the “people’s history” that is not distorted by the powers-that-be.
- The power centers of United Methodism are not used to being challenged in this online format. If megachurch pastors are challenged in their conferences by either Bishops or smaller church pastors or even parishioners, the repercussions are direct. If seminary presidents are challenged by their students, that’s risky business. As a fully-ordained pastor serving in the Western Jurisdiction, I only have concerns about being honest, articulate, and backing up my writings. The severity of the response to 2014’s Straight White Men and the Methodism 2.0 conversations by usually stoic voices betrays a sense of fear of how online discussion changes the power structure of religious conversation…forever.
Next year is a big year for Methodists, so this blog will continue to be the place to read in 2016. Thanks for your readership, shares, emails, arguments, trolls, epiphanies, and for being part of the Hacking Christianity community.
If you are interested, here’s the Top 14 of 2014.