First Bloggers’ Conference at The Cove (Interview)


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About a week ago, two of eQuipping for eMinistry’s readers attended the Christian Writers Gathering at The Cove, The Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina. Approximately thirty bloggers met for a two-hour meetup, the first-of-its-kind for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

Let’s hear from Debby and Yvonne about their time at the meetup. Debby Thompson is on staff with AIA, having served with Cru 42 years. Yvonne Bibby was on staff for 30 years and has published a book, Wake Up! Return to God: A Call to Personal Revival. See their full bios and links to their blogs at the end of our interview.

e4e: What was the conference? What was their goal?

Yvonne: The Cove Christian Blogger Meetup was designed to give information about blogging to new and existing bloggers. It was a way for new bloggers to connect with other Christians who perhaps had more years blogging and knew more. The Cove social media director, Jill, and two communications specialists from BGEA lead the meetup. After the event, most women, and the one guy who attended, took the initiative to give out our business cards and connect. Some agreed to “barter” their time to help others.

e4e: What were your one or two takeaways that really encouraged you?

Debby: Spiritually, personally, the very real stewardship of blogging – God has called me to do this; I’m not pursuing a casual addition to my life. Practically, time management hacks specific to the life of a writer.

Yvonne: Be consistent in writing. But there is grace as in every ministry if time has gone by without writing. Also, although there are many bloggers out there, remember “there is enough content for everyone”, meaning there are enough readers who will take something away from any blogger. Every blogger is important.

e4e: What do you think would be particularly helpful for other Cru bloggers to know?

Debby: The opportunity to meet bloggers from other ministries and other organizations, other spiritual journeys, is valuable.

Yvonne: There are many Christian bloggers out there but few write clearly about the gospel, discipleship, and training. Cru writers have the training to write about these things. Some of the women I met were writing about “good” things but not these things particularly. We’re privileged as staff to pass on these important topics now through the Internet. Many older staff have years of wisdom to share with younger Christians.

e4e: What took you by surprise?

Yvonne: Some women who do so much in blogging it takes over their whole life. Blogging should come from experiencing the Lord. People get caught up in the number of followers instead of good content. How much money was spent on doing everything for one’s blog!

e4e: What tech help did you learn about? (This is an important question because of the nature of my blog, e4e).

Debby: Questions were only answered on a case-by-case basis. Going forward, my observation is this could be an entire section in and of itself. Bloggers really do need tech help. It is wrong to assume that writers are tech experts, yet writers in today’s world must develop some measure of tech skills.

Yvonne: The importance of using other social media for your blog – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and even podcasts. Using Canva for graphics and Wordswag or Instaquotes for adding text (for Android and iPhones). Adding podcasts and videos to your blog. And how to guest post on someone else’s blog and them on your blog. Also, the importance of Akismet for spam. Make sure there is a tool that watches out for spam.

e4e: Tell me a bit about your time with people you met.

Debby: The entire group was delightful! I wish I could have coffee with each person I met. I felt like a sponge soaking up other people’s experience and expertise. Several people blog for their organizations, but most in attendance blog on a personal basis.

Yvonne: I talked with four people who mainly write a blog for a specific subject (organ donors) or mostly encouraging words for those who are depressed, struggling with specific issues in life, or a “how to”. One woman came up to me to talk and told me it was hard for her to promote herself in blogging because she wanted to promote God, not herself. I told her it was hard for me to do the same and then shared how we wanted to reach people for Christ. We then took each other’s hand and prayed for each other and for our blogs to be glorifying to God. She said she heard someone say “that we must be humble but not hidden”. This is a good reminder of why to write.

e4e: What aspects of ministry were emphasized? What biblical perspectives were shared? (This  also is an important question because of the nature of my blog).

Debby:This was not done in depth. Yet it was the leading point made.

Yvonne: Jill reminded us that we are lights set on a hill. If God has given us the gift of writing we should not hide our lights under a bushel but let others be blessed by God’s word and our words. Other than encouragement to write for the Lord there was no emphasis on evangelism or discipleship. I wish this had been emphasized.

Jill did talk about the importance of praying before we write and praying after we post for those reading our blogs.

e4e: What are you doing right?

Debby: Blogging with consistency.

Yvonne: This next week I’m meeting with a photographer to get an updated personal photo for my blog.

e4e: What will you do differently right away?

Debby: Get in touch with ladies I met to schedule guest bloggers for my own blog.

Yvonne: Write!  I took a break because of a wedding and family issues, but I need to post something every week even if it is small. Manage my schedule with other ministry people to be able to write more.  Learn more about Pinterest and Instagram. Ask two friends to hold me accountable to write every week. And not be afraid of promoting myself and the book I wrote.

e4e: What long-term changes will you do now? Later?

Debby: A personal goal is to annually attend a gathering of this type, even if not this exact one. I need to always be growing, always learning, putting myself in an environment to allow God to develop His new calling within me.

Yvonne: Learn more about WordPress for my blog and consider another template if needed. Publish / create a “lead magnet”, a freebie about prayer or my book, for those who sign up for my blog

e4e: Anything else?

Debby: Networking was a highlight, for sure. I am so (!) glad  I attended.

Yvonne: Thanks, Sus, for all you do for God’s work in supporting us who blog.

e4e: You’re welcome! Thank you for helping Cru bloggers today to pick up some good advice from BGEA’s conference.

Our Interviewees

debby-and-larry-conf-pngDebby Thompson has served on the staff of Cru for 42 years, 33 years living abroad, 8 of those years spent behind the “Iron Curtain,” covertly in Poland.

Debby’s love for Jesus keeps her passionate about helping to fulfill His Great Commission. She is a grandmother of five, a global ambassador to women, a writer, and speaker. Currently, the Thompsons live in Cincinnati and serve with Athletes in Action (AIA), where Larry is Vice President of International Ministry.

Follow Debby’s blog, GPS for the Woman of Purpose, at DebbyThompson.com. Her desire for her readers is that they would experience intimacy with Jesus, authenticity with others, a passion for their calling, and a purpose for their influence.

yvonneYvonne Bibby is passionate about prayer and revival. She often tells others, “In my 33 years of ministry, I have seen more happen for the cause of the Gospel and God’s kingdom through prayer more than anything else.”

Yvonne worked for Cru for 30 years in campus ministry and overseas with her husband, Lowe, in East Asia and Taiwan. As one of the first staff with Bridges International, she and her husband, Lowe, continued with Bridges in North Carolina ministering to Chinese and Indian students. She’s spoken on campuses to students, to Taiwan Cru staff, at churches and retreats. She is the author of Wake Up! Return to God: A Call to Personal Revival which has also been used as a Bible study. She’s also a volunteer voice for Voice of the Martyrs.

While in Texas, she memorized John 15. Her desire for her blog, Ten Fresh Fruits, is to share what she’s continually learning about the Fresh Fruit Jesus produces in the life of a believer and how it actually impacts the world around us.

Yvonne and Lowe live in the mountains of North Carolina and have two grown children, Ruth and Haydn, whom she home-schooled while in full-time ministry.

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