The online journal of Luke Dockery

Category: Blogging (Page 1 of 8)

The Doc File during COVID-19

What a wild time to be alive! I hope as you read this, that you and your family are well, and that you are doing what you can to stay safe and healthy. To those for whom health and safety are not true possibilities right now because you work in the medical field or some other essential industry or occupation that brings you into contact with many people, please know that you have my continued prayers and personal gratefulness.

It has been almost four weeks ago now that I wrote this post in response to the rising COVID-19 situation. I didn’t expect that post to go viral the way it did, but it struck a nerve because of the shared experience that we all find ourselves navigating at the current time.

As I mentioned in that post, I tend to not write a lot in direct response to what is going on around me, so at least initially, it was not my intention to repeatedly write about coronavirus, life in quarantine, or things of that nature. At the same time, I was so busy trying to figure out how to do ministry digitally while working from home, playing with children, and generally being less productive, that I didn’t have time to write anything in this space, related to COVID-19 or not.

Over the last few weeks, things have changed. My family started isolating ourselves at home a couple of days after I first wrote about COVID-19, because our daughter Kinsley is immunosuppressed and, therefore, at higher risk of contracting the disease. Today marks the 25th day of our extended “staycation” as I am choosing to call it. Over that time, it has become abundantly clear that this is not a short blip on the screen of our lives before we can resume our regularly-scheduled activities, but rather, a season of anomaly that will both last for an extended period of time and also leave its effects upon us indefinitely.

With that in mind, here is how I will aim to produce content for The Doc File during this current season:

  • On Mondays, I will try to provide something that I think is beneficial for this time of social distancing with its accompanying financial concerns, and anxiety about our health and the future. That will be a mix of a lot of different things: devotional thoughts from Scripture, reflections upon doing ministry in a pandemic, suggestions for healthy practices in a quarantine-style life, book reviews (because I assume some people have extra time to read), and more.
  • On Thursdays, I am going to start on a series that I have been wanting to do for some time, called “A New Heaven & A New Earth: What The Bible Teaches About Eternity.” This series will chronicle what has been the most significant theological shift for me over the last decade or so, and I hope it will be beneficial as well; for me, it has been a great source of hope, encouragement, and confidence.

There’s no denying it; it is a difficult time that we find ourselves in for a host of reasons. I hope that this can be a place that gives you encouragement and offers helpful resources as we seek to grow as disciples of Jesus during this season, loving God and our neighbors.

2019 Blog Review

Today is the last day of 2019, which means it is a time for reflection, and I generally (at least, when I remember to) like to reflect on my year of blogging here at The Doc File.

This was, I believe, my least voluminous year of blogging since I started writing in this space, way back in 2006. I lamented last year that I had only blogged 20 times in 2018, but that number decreased even further in 2019, to just 17 posts. This is disappointing to me, but also, in many ways, not surprising. In February, I announced that we were moving to a new city where I would begin a new job, and the reality is that the transition process has been very busy and this was reflected in my blogging output: 7 of this past year’s 17 posts were written within the first two months of the year before I got caught up in the transition process. In addition to that, I had a lot of technical issues with moving the blog between different hosting services, and so much of the time I did devote to The Doc File this past year was to ensure its continued functionality rather than produce content.

With that in mind, I am hopeful to do better in 2020. There are so many things that I want to write about; the key element will be carving time out in my schedule to do it (blogging falls under the important category but not the urgent one, and so sometimes, gets pushed aside for other things).

By traffic totals, here are my most-read posts during 2019:

  1. Moral Evil and Natural Evil, February 24, 2015
  2. The Role and Character of Elihu in the Book of Job, December 3, 2010
  3. Creation and New Creation: Connections Between Genesis and Revelation, April 25, 2017
  4. One Piece of Advice from a Youth Minister, August 21, 2019
  5. Lessons from David: Sin Has Consequences, March 17, 2014

Four of my top posts this year were not written this year, and three of the five (Evil, Elihu, Creation/New Creation) were in last year’s top posts as well. I am not sure why these remain so popular, but I am glad they are being discovered and hope they are useful to people.

The most popular posts from this year:

  1. One Piece of Advice from a Youth Minister, August 21, 2019
  2. A New Chapter, February 25, 2019
  3. The Full Tomb, April 19, 2019
  4. Reading in 2018, January 4, 2019
  5. The Story of the Bible, February 15, 2019

I am glad that the “One Piece of Advice” post got a good deal of traction, because it was something that was near and dear to me as a youth minister. Similarly, “The Full Tomb” was a piece I was proud of because I thought it contained an important message that is sometimes lost in the triumphalism of the Easter season. “A New Chapter” was a personal announcement about my family’s job transition, so it wasn’t surprising to me that a lot of people clicked on that. Every year I share about books that I read the previous year, and people tend to be interested in that sort of thing, and rounding out the top five was an announcement of a free resource that we had produced at Farmington that I made available on the blog (people like free stuff!).

As I hinted out above, there are a lot of topics that I would like to write about in 2020, and I am looking forward to seeing what the new year brings. I want to conclude by thanking everyone who reads, and especially to those who give me feedback, whether online or in person. May God bless each of you in the coming year.

2018 Blog Review

When I remember to, I like to do year-end reviews here on The Doc File, and so before we move on to the new year, here are some brief reflections on what occurred in this space in 2018.

I only blogged 20 times this year, down from 26 in 2015, 27 in 2016, and 28 in 2017. Only blogging 20 times throughout the course of the year is disappointing to me, and I have plans to do better in 2019. At the same time, I have been doing this long enough to know that of all of my resolutions for the new year, my blogging resolutions seem to be the hardest for me to keep.

By traffic totals, here are my most-read posts during 2018:

  1. Moral Evil and Natural Evil, February 24, 2015
  2. The Emergence of Ancient Israel in the Land of Canaan, December 10, 2015
  3. The Role And Character Of Elihu In The Book Of Job, December 3, 2010
  4. Creation and New Creation: Connections Between Genesis and Revelation, April 25, 2017
  5. It Is Not The Lord’s Supper That You Eat: The Socio-Historical Context of 1 Corinthians 11.17-34, April 4, 2016

Something that you may notice about each of these posts: I didn’t actually write any of them this year! Perhaps that says something about the quality of what I wrote this year, but I prefer to think of it as some of these older posts having continued relevance and staying power. Also, three of the five posts are actually versions of research papers, so I like that people are reading and engaging with posts that are not fluff (I try not to write much of that anyway!).

As far as posts that I actually wrote in 2018, here are the most popular:

  1. Two Graduations: What My Special Needs Daughter Taught Me About Following Jesus, June 7, 2018
  2. Reading in 2017, January 5, 2018
  3. Scripture As Story, September 4, 2018
  4. Scripture As Story: A Literary Masterpiece, September 17, 2018
  5. Harding University Lectureship Recap, October 5, 2018

The “Two Graduations” post was a reflective piece I wrote about finishing grad school and my daughter Kinsley, and was probably my favorite post from this year. I also enjoyed writing the Scripture As Story series, and two of those posts made the top five. Every year I share about books that I read the previous year, and that post tends to get some traction, and rounding out the top five were my reflections on the Harding University Lectureship, which was more popular than I expected.

I have some plans for what I want to do here at The Doc File in 2019, but I will save those for a separate post. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who reads my scribblings here. This has been an invaluable space for me to process my own thoughts on various topics, and from the gracious feedback I continue to get from readers, it is of some benefit to others as well. This is humbling and encouraging to me. Thanks for reading in 2018, and I look forward to continuing the discussion next year!

2016 Blog Review

Not every year, but often, I do year-end reviews here on The Doc File, so I thought I would do that briefly today, before moving on to other topics and posts.

Frankly, I did not blog as much in 2016 as I’d hoped, because life got in the way in a multitude of ways. For a few reasons, I do have good reason to hope that that will change in 2017, but we will see.

Here were the top 5 most popular posts of 2016, by traffic:

  1. Hypocrisy’s Tribute and Donald Trump, February 25, 2016
  2. After the Election: A Plea for Christians, November 7, 2016
  3. Myths about Homosexuality, America, and the Kingdom of God, October 2, 2014
  4. The Emergence of Ancient Israel in the Land of Canaan, December 10, 2015
  5. What’s Wrong with Youth Ministers? Some Common (and often Legitimate) Criticisms, September 7, 2016

I am actually not a very political person, so it is perhaps interesting that my top two posts were both political in nature. However, that was the reality of 2016: the Presidential Election dominated everything. The first post voiced a prophetic opposition to the character of Donald Trump.  Many ministers and Christian leaders joined me in that opposition; some did not. The second was a plea for Christians to do more to impact the world in the ways they care about than simply casting a vote (which really doesn’t do much), and to not let politics divide believers. I felt (and still feel) good about both writings.

The “Myths” post is by far the most popular post I have ever written, and it continues to generate traffic despite my not having shared it this year. The research paper on theories regarding the Emergence of Ancient Israel in Canaan was a pleasant surprise for me, and the youth ministry post reflected something I thought was important, and I was glad that others thought so as well.

Last year at this time, I was disappointed that I only wrote 26 posts in 2015, and I hoped to do better in 2016. And I did! I wrote 27 times. 🙂

I did not do particularly well in following through on the plans I had made in 2016, with the exception that I did manage to write more about youth ministry. My goals for 2017 are similar to last year’s: I would like to write more often, an on a variety of topics that interest me greatly, including (but not limited to) youth ministry, Bible study, the practice of living as salt and light in a dark world, and the American Restoration (or Stone-Campbell) Movement.

I want to close by thanking everyone who reads The Doc File for doing so. It is always amazing to me and very humbling when I travel somewhere and meet someone who tells me that they enjoy reading my blog. My blog serves as a space for me to work out my thoughts on given issues, but I share it publicly so others can benefit from it. Thanks so much to those who read and are a constant source of encouragement to me.

2015 Blog Review, and Looking Ahead to 2016

As one year ends and the next begins, it is a natural time for reflection. I am a believer in New Year’s Resolutions in all areas of my life, and that includes the writing I do here on my blog. So today I offer a brief recap of 2015 on The Doc File, as well as some tentative plans and goals for 2016.

Although blog traffic is not the most important thing in the world, I do share my writings in hope that they will be beneficial to others, so I do keep some track of how many people are stopping by. I actually had quite a few visitors in 2015, despite the fact that I did a very poor job of posting regularly. That traffic largely stemmed from one post, which I actually wrote back in 2014 but went viral this summer. Here were the top 5 most popular posts in 2015:

  1. Myths about Homosexuality, America, and the Kingdom of God, October 2, 2014
  2. Bruce Jenner and the Multi-Faceted Transgender Discussion, June 4, 2015
  3. Grace, Law, and Salvation: What “Legalism” Does Not Mean, August 6, 2015
  4. The Perfect Church, March 31, 2014
  5. Suffering and God’s Knowledge of the Future, February 9, 2015

A couple of observations from this lists of top post: first, it is not particularly surprising to me that the top two most-read posts in 2015 were directly related to hot-button cultural issues. I do not like writing posts in reaction to current events, but clearly, people like to read that sort of thing. It is nice to see that people also like to read about theology and doctrine, however (see posts 3 and 5), because I enjoy writing about that more. I’m sure that there will continue to be a mix of that moving forward.

Second, it is interesting that two of the top five posts were actually written last year. That goes to show that things don’t have to be written recently to resonate with people, and in the future, I will try to do a better job of sharing some of my relatively older posts that people might have missed previously but would still enjoy reading.

Also looking back, I was disappointed by how little blogging I did in 2015. Going back to when this blog began the summer of 2006, my post totals by year are as follows:

  • 2006:15
  • 2007: 102
  • 2008: 100
  • 2009: 67
  • 2010: 34
  • 2011: 35
  • 2012: 103
  • 2013: 74
  • 2014: 69
  • 2015: 26

If one thing is clear, it is that I have been a very inconsistent blogger over the years! I can chart some of the ebb and flow of my post frequency with developments in my life over the last decade (starting grad school, determining to use my blog as a ministry outlet, starting an additional blog at a different location, etc.) Obviously, I have lacked discipline from year to year in making regular blogging a priority. To be completely honest, trying to balance regular blogging with ministry and grad school requirements has been very challenging for me, and I simply haven’t figured out how to do it on a consistent basis. I take some solace in the fact that I don’t know of many other people who I think do a good job of consistently blogging well while also tackling grad school and doing good ministry work, but I am still determined to do better in 2016.

Moving forward, here are some things to expect in the new year:

  • I want to do a better job sharing quotations from books that I find to be especially significant. I do quite a bit of reading and research, and this is one simple way for others to benefit somewhat from that (it will also help with more consistent blogging).
  • Brief reviews from books that I read, especially those that I think are worth recommending to others.
  • I am interested in the history of the American Restoration Movement as a hobby, and intend to blog about Restoration history and theology more. I don’t expect these to be particularly popular posts, but hey, it’s my blog! 😉
  • I’ll continue to write some periodic posts in the A Theological View of Suffering series. It is an important topic, and I’ve got more to say.
  • Considering that I am a youth minister, I don’t write all that much about youth ministry. I plan to do that more often this year.

I want to close by thanking everyone who reads The Doc File for doing so. It is always amazing to me and very humbling when I travel somewhere and meet someone who tells me that they enjoy reading my blog. My blog serves as a space for me to work out my thoughts on given issues, but I share it publicly so others can benefit from it. Thanks so much to those who read and are a constant source of encouragement to me.

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