The state of youth ministry blogs

It’s been a couple of months since I published my list of Top 20 Youth Ministry Blogs at the YS Blog.

And for the most part the list did what I was hoping it would do. People took notice that YS had taken notice of blogs enough to rank them. And the net effect has been that many who had stopped taking the genre seriously are now take it seriously again.

It’s hard to explain and its impossible to pin it on just the rankings. But it was clear that youth ministry blogs were on the decline. Now they are noticeably getting stronger.

Am I taking credit for that? All I’m saying is that publishing the rankings didn’t hurt the genre.

Here’s a few observations: (In no particular order)

  • The quality, quantity, and effort put into youth ministry blogs has increased in the past two months since the rankings went public.
  • There are lots of new youth ministry blogs to index– awesome!
  • The method used to calculate the top 50 will continue to refine.
  • It looks like I only missed a few sites that could have hit the top 50. (This was my big fear!) I did ask those who voted on the top 50 to tell me who was missing, that group brought up only 2 blogs that weren’t indexed. For a first public shot… that’s not bad.
  • For 2011, I’m glad that I’m just the math guy and I get to turn over the influence ranking part (33% of the overall ranking) to the 2010 top 20 bloggers.
  • Basically, everyone from #11-20 wants to be in the top 10. Which is fantastic because it forces EVERYONE to grow and get better just to stay in the top 20. I’d be impressed if anyone can crack the top 5… there is a big statistical hurdle between a top 5 blog and the rest.
  • I’ve noticed a lot of folks in last years top 50 are making changes. They are getting right with Technorati and Google. They are making sure their RSS feed works. They are probably doing some SEO stuff. In other words, the whole class of youth ministry blog is getting better not just from a content side… but from a set-up side.
  • I think I’m going to exclude from index if they haven’t updated in 30 days. It’s tough because it takes me a couple of weeks to get through the data. So I might just index everyone and scrub the data right before I send the top 50 for influence ranking to the top 20.
  • Those of us on the list have had some weird effects. I know I’ve heard more bizarre product pitches in the last two months than I’d ever heard before. And marketers have definitely taken notice. Crazy town.
  • Yes, I think it is possible for a new blog to make a first year appearance in the top 20. Because some of the indexes that go into the composite score take time to build… I sincerely doubt anyone could amass the traffic to go from launch to the top 10 though. But I’m sure its possible.
  • I’ve had to laugh at the humility thing of those on the list. Lots of people on the list don’t know how to react. Christians try to act humble when they are proud. I think it’s OK that they are OK being on the list. It’s not like they politicked to get on the list… no one knew it was coming!
  • Speaking of politics, unlike other rankings in our world, the YM blog ranking is open. If anyone thinks their blog has a legit shot at getting into the top 20, let me know so I can start indexing it. Last year, I indexed more than 100 blogs. I have a feeling I’ll be indexing 200+ in 2011.
  • A lot of people have asked me about adding Twitter/Facebook numbers into the mix. I’m resisting that urge for a number of reasons. I actually think blog indexing and social media indexing are two different things. Truth is, size of a social media circle is completely meaningless.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

5 comments

  1. I’d agree with the social media circus. When I first wanted to blog I wanted the numbers and traffic. Now I mostly blog almost to myself as a discipline to improve my writing. I’ve had problems with some ranking sites anyways so try to do what is best. Though I would probably be disqualified as a youth ministry site – cause of my role as lead pastor,

  2. The only part of the social media rankings that I’m thinking could be valid is how many times a post was retweeted or shared on Facebook. I mean, social influence counts for something and it’s not always reflected in traffic stats. But I also know the quality of influence is more important than the quantity of retweets and such, and that’s impossible to measure.

    I’m glad your list help boost the genre! Unfortunately, my posting quality and frequency has continually declined in the past couple months, partly because I’ve been on vacation, traveling on missions trips and swamped at church, and serving a very pregnant wife, but also because I’m using my free time to experiment with the YouTube space that seems largely vacant of a consistent youth ministry video presence the way text-based youth ministry blogs fill the blogosphere. Ironically, my blog’s stats have jumped since my posting frequency declined. Probably just coincidental.

    But all that to say, I’m pretty sure my blog is gonna drop from #3 next year, maybe even out of the top 10. Who knows.

    1. Yeah, but just like there are a lot of ways to game Google to drag traffic in, measuring RTs and Facebook strength is tough. There just isn’t a great way to measure it right now. (Think about monitoring 200+ blogs, plus their FB accounts, and Twitter profiles) Plus, folks like FYI have chosen to just do Facebook but not Twitter… should that effect their blog ranking?

      To me, it is part of the package. But ultimately the rankings are about the blog and not the whole brand.

      If someone could come up with a formula I’d be willing to measure/publish a list of YM social media peeps.

      And the YouTube thing is dead on. There aren’t a lot of serious users. Even within YT itself, there are some but not a ton of dedicated YTers.

  3. There’s millions of dedicated YouTube viewers who subscribe to channels and watch all the recent videos the way we use RSS readers to follow the latest posts we want to follow, but there is a comparably small number of content producers, especially quality ones. The the demographic that’s subscribing and following YouTube channels isn’t really the youth worker population — it’s more the 13-17 year old crowd based on what I’ve seen so far — so I’m not even really hitting my target audience there either. But, maybe it’ll continue to grow and change the way blogs did from LiveJournal and Xanga. *shrugs* I’m not sure what, if anything, will come of my YouTube experiments, but I’m having fun with it and, to me, that’s worth my time.

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