EFCA Pastors: If You Want to Write a High Impact Blog to Reach People You Should Consider Benjamin Vrbicek’s Fan and Flame as a Model. Here’s Why

This blog wants to ask the question what makes a high impact blog inside the EFCA? For pastors who want to set out and write a blog inside the EFCA, how should they do it? I’ve noticed this issue in seeing blogs start and then die. So this blog wanted to take a step back and as an independent observer write about what makes a solid blog. Benjamin Vrbicek who writes Fan and Flame pastors Community Evangelical Free Church Harrisburg. This blog wanted to do a post to show how meaningful and rich his blog is and what a gift it is to the larger EFCA. If you are a EFCA pastor and you want to write a blog that is solid, Benjamin’s blog is the model that you should study.

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

Gustave Flaubert

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Ernest Hemingway 

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

1 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

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Benjamin Vrbicek

One of the pure joys in writing this blog is that you get to meet a lot of people and see many different aspects to an organization. In the view of this blog the EFCA is complicated in that it is a large organization with many different angles. Inside the EFCA there are pockets of good people and you just need to know where to look which can be challenging. One of the people I have interacted with in the past is Benjamin Vrbicek who pastors Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. For a biography of Benjamin this older article explains his background and training which you can read at, “Brick Lane Community Church Joins The Gospel Coalition, and Challenging a Misleading Statement from Steve Estes Church.” Since that article was written Benjamin has been ordained as an EFCA pastor and in the process also made history as well within the organization. You can read both in, “Benjamin Vrbicek of Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Passes his Ordination Exam as an EFCA Pastor in the Eastern District” and “Benjamin Vrbicek of Community Evangelical Free of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the First Amillennial Pastor Ordained in the National EFCA.” 

Recently Benjamin wrote about how he had to cut back writing his blog because of editing responsibilities as the part-time editor for Gospel Centered Discipleship.  Here’s what Benjamin wrote in, “A Big Change to My Blog.” 

If you don’t know much about Gospel-Centered Discipleship (GCD), let me just say how much I love their passion for publishing biblical, gospel-saturated content. I also love GCD’s emphasis on developing Christian writers. They don’t just write about the gospel; they coach others to write well about the gospel. In the last ten years, the Lord has caused these two passions—love for writing about the gospel and love for thinking about writing about the gospel—to become central to my calling. I’m excited to join their team.

To state what I hope will be obvious, I still work full-time as the lead pastor of Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. No matter what happens with my writing, pastoral ministry in a local church will always be, I suspect, home base. I spent two months talking about taking the managing editor role with the fellow pastor-elders at our church, and not only do I have their permission, I have their blessing and encouragement.

A downside to this change will mean that I cannot write as often on this blog. I only have so much free time, and all the side projects tend to add up: blogging at Fan and Flame, writing guest posts for other websites, managing the GCD website, writing longer book projects, and doing freelance editing and book design. Something has to give. For now, my blog drew the short straw. That’s a bummer. I mean, I did just publish a book about blogging.

And yet, this change is also a welcomed change to my heart. I am excited to think less about me, if that makes sense. Even when I do my best to blog for God’s glory, I feel a low-grade pressure to perform and have articles hit big. What I want to do, I do not do, as Paul said. And what I do not want to struggle with, I do struggle with. Blogging less often on my website, while editing articles for others, will force me to think about me less often, which will be good for my soul.

Several weeks ago I read Benjamin’s update and later on I was reading some blog’s in Glen Schrieber’s EFCA Southeast District and an idea popped into my head. I had noticed how a couple of blogs had died. I think that statistics is that 80% of all blogs fail within two years. I regularly look at EFCA blog’s for ideas and subject matter for this blog. So how can you solve that problem? Maybe a way is to look at a blog that thrives and carries itself well. And yet I realized how vibrant and solid Benjamin’s blog is not only to his church and readership but to the EFCA’s Eastern District. Benjamin after all is perhaps the most prolific writer within the Eastern District. His books, articles at The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God and For the Church are substantial. So it gave me the idea, to stop and write a post about what makes Benjamin’s blog so solid that it could be a model for other pastors and EFCA personalities. There are many lessons that can be learned from Benjamin’s blog. 

 

EFCA Pastors This is Why You Should Consider Benjamin’s Blog as a Model

There are many reasons why Benjamin’s blog should be considered as a model if you are a pastor in the EFCA and want to write a high impact blog. Consider the following take aways:  

  1. Benjamin’s has used his blog to promote his books that he was written. Here are two examples, recently Benjamin has published two books “Blogging for God’s Glory in a Clickbait World” and “Struggle Against Porn: 29 Diagnostic Tests for Your Head and Heart .” At his blog he has written about how the ideas for such a book came about and what inspired him. You can read an example of that here. In addition he has used his blog to launch his book as well. You can see examples of that here, here, here and here. A solid blog can link different mediums. 
  2. Another aspect to consider is that Benjamin’s blog is very intimate and thus it communicates quite a bit. As the COVID pandemic was descending across the United States Benjamin wrote a post about how his son got the swine flu in St. Louis and how he struggled seeing his own child suffer. You can read about it here. One of his most intimate and my favorite posts reflects on a long friendship with Tom Reidy in St. Louis. In reading the post you see a pastor who loves and cares for someone interested in his friendship. What makes it all the more touching is that in a world were so much is disposable to include people and relationships Benjamin shows how impactful and deep a friendship can really be. You can read about that here
  3. At his blog Benjamin has also linked its importance to his own EFCA church in Harrisburg and both reflected on it and used situations from it to blog about. A terrific example is this post that he did in 2019 on being grateful to pastor Community Evangelical Free Harrisburg.  That post which Benjamin composed revealed in many ways his heart and ability to empathize and share his love. In the view of this blog Benjamin’s emotional intelligence is very high. 
  4. At Fan and Flame Benjamin used his blog to prepare and get ready for his EFCA ordination which included his oral examination. What he published and shared told many people where he stood on theology. It was good for Benjamin as it helped prepare him for his board. It is also good for any person who is thinking about possibly attending his church in that they could better understand where he is theologically. Several examples of that can be found here, here, and here. In this case he used his blog to prepare to advance his pastoral career. 
  5. At his blog he reviews books and shares his thoughts with what is being published. In that way his blog is offering fresh insight into new releases into the modern evangelical world. You can see some examples of that here, here and here
  6. Another factor that makes Benjamin’s blog stand out is that it is also very pastoral. One of the posts that he wrote which reflects this happened in the middle of COVID-19. It deals with the text of scripture in which he writes about Jesus’ command that my yoke is easy and burden is light. His post was very appropriate during the pandemic. You can read that here. He then wrote another post about lament which also was pastoral and realistic. You can read about that here
  7. The last point I want to stress which makes this blog solid is that its theological. It dives into theological issues and writes about them well. Here are some examples I would like to feature. Benjamin writes about what it means to do ministry or his reflection on Job which you can read and listen to here. Other examples discuss what it means to glorify God from his perspective or teach theology

In order to make a good blog work it needs to be driven, fresh and offer a lot to read. It also should be diverse in many ways. Benjamin’s blog does that exceedingly well. Hands down from this outsider’s perspective it is one of the best blogs within the EFCA. If I was an EFCA pastor or personality in California, Utah, Texas, or Florida and I was looking for a blog to study and use as a model, Benjamin’s is it. 

 

Some Closing Thoughts to Benjamin Vrbicek 

As you move into your part-time editor position for Gospel Centered Discipleship I just want to share some thoughts with you. From the perspective of an outsider I hope you realize how rich, and vibrant your blog is. Many EFCA pastors start blogs and then I check in on them later on and learn that they have died. What makes your blog neat is that it links many different mediums. From podcasts, to blog articles to books published. Its very diverse and in the view of this blog very impactful in many ways. I study and look at blogs all the time in the course of writing this one. And I wanted to take a step back and point out what makes your blog so rich. And I say that was a guy who would often respectfully disagree with you. But I see something unique and gifted that complements you well. So while you may not be able to publish as much I hope you keep your blog current and that you continue it forward in a new way. Its loss would be a loss for the EFCA in the view of this blog.  Sometimes people can be so wrapped around the axle to be blind to things in their midst. After spending a lot of time writing about the EFCA as an outsider I have seen a lot. And I just want to communicate that to you because maybe you don’t fully realize how wonderful and good your blog is. Maybe a perspective from a neutral outsider who can speak his mind more freely can reveal that to you will help you realize how solid Fan and Flame is as means of communication. This blog hopes you find this post deeply encouraging and that it gives you something to reflect upon. 

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