I’ve taken some time to look at trends and statistics on my use of social media and blogging. I’ve learned quite a bit, particularly through conversations with people who do this really well. Adam Weber, founding pastor of Embrace, was particularly generous and insightful in an online exchange last week. (Check out his book Talking with God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray.)
Most interesting to me in all of this was seeing a report of my top read posts over the past year. A few quick thoughts:
I was encouraged by how high up a few very recent posts were. The fourth most read post in the past 365 days, for example, was written just last week. Two more were written about a month ago.
I was surprised by how strong some posts I wrote a long time ago are still doing. Four of the top ten read posts in the last year were not written in the past year. And three of those are about a decade old.
The posts I have written that have had the longest shelf life are mostly in the “Wesley Didn’t Say It” series I did years ago. These posts focus on quotes popularly attributed to John Wesley that are not actually in the written historical record.
The most exciting thing to me in looking at this list is the interest in holiness and entire sanctification by my readers. I have just finished a short book on entire sanctification and am encouraged to see interest in this topic!
Here are the top ten most read posts from the past year:
1. Wesley Didn’t Say It: Set Myself on Fire… Watch Me Burn
The comments on this post, and the others in this series, reveal how passionately some people want Wesley to have said these things.
2. Methodism Is in the Details: Moving from Breadth Back to Depth
This would be on the short list of posts I have written that was received by some people in a way I did not intend when I wrote it.
3. Wesley Didn’t Say It: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can…
This post led to one of my favorite memories blogging. Hillary Clinton quoted this in her acceptance speech for the Presidential Nomination of the Democratic Party. As soon as she said these words, my blog got a ton of traffic. But the best part was that she did not attribute the quote to John Wesley! Clinton introduced the quote by saying, “She made sure I learned the words of our Methodist faith: ‘Do all the good you can…’” The story I’m making up is that one of her speech writers read this post in the process of writing the speech. That would be about as good as it gets as far as my hope for this series.
4. Brief Thoughts on Online Communion and Resources for a Better Way
I wrote this post last week. Most of you reading this have likely made your decisions about whether to celebrate communion online. I have learned a lot through the conversations I’ve had online and on the phone related to this. It has been fascinating to me how different our assumptions are about almost everything related to communion in contemporary Methodism.
5. John Wesley’s Thoughts Upon Methodism
This was the post I was the most surprised to see in this list. And when I read it, I was even more surprised to see how short the post is and how much the quote I cite in this post impacts the way that I frame my teaching of Methodist History. I read this quote on the first day of class in Methodist History and use doctrine, spirit, and discipline as the primary lens for the course.
6. The Treasure God Has Entrusted to Methodism
This is a sermon I preached in Tupelo, MS and Tyler, TX recently. (Wow, just writing that hits me with a wave of grief at how much I miss being able to gather with brothers and sisters in the faith for corporate worship.) The strong interest in a sermon on entire sanctification has been very encouraging to me.
7. The Pastor I Hope My Children Will Have
This was a really fun post to write. It was also great because it is one of the few posts I have written that got an almost entirely positive response.
8. Full Salvation Now: The Reason for Methodism
This post was one of my first attempts to argue that the doctrine of entire sanctification is the reason God raised Methodism up. And, Methodism will have no future that is not built upon this doctrine.
9. Growing in Your Faith in a Time of Social Distancing
I was delighted to be asked for permission to publish this in a variety of places. My favorite was seeing the piece translated into Spanish.
10. Wesley Didn’t Say It: Unity, Liberty, Charity
Another quote commonly misattributed to John Wesley. I’m grateful every time I see these posts in my views, as I hope they are helping people be a bit more precise in their use of Wesley. The point of this series was not that I dislike or disagree with these quotes. It was simply that we have no historical evidence that Wesley actually said them, so we shouldn’t say that he did.
Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.