Maybe My Target Readership Can Handle Complex Sentences And Big Words

Intricate Boarder 03

Don’t worry — I have no intention of writing a third post comparing current blogging advice to seeker-sensitive churches. I’ve already done so here and here. Of course the parallel begs for attention, but I don’t want to be redundant.

This past weekend, the blog I read on blogging once again featured a post railing against long paragraphs, complex sentences and big words. The author insisted (as he has so many times in his posts) that 21st Century readers no longer tolerate writing unless it can be easily digested. Therefore bloggers should avoid writing in ways that contemporary readers generally find inaccessible. Such writing, he argued, discourages readers, resulting in fewer clicks and even fewer likes.

His post made me so angry that I wrote about it on my personal Facebook page. That post generated an interesting discussion, forcing me to think through my blogging style as well as my purposes in blogging. While I haven’t completely processed my thoughts on the matter, I believe I’ve reached some conclusions about the purposes of my blog and the audience I want to target.

What does my target audience have to do with whether or not I shorten my paragraphs, simplify my sentences and limit my vocabulary? Quite a bit, it turns out.

If I wanted to focus this blog on reaching teens and millennials who mostly read texts written in cyberspeak, for example, I certainly would take the recommendations of the guy writing the blog on blogging. I understand that public schools these days don’t hold kids to the academic standards expected of my generation. In order to reach that audience, I would have to adjust my writing style. Otherwise my writing would become a barrier to bringing them the Gospel.

As the apostle Paul accommodated the various audiences he preached to, so Christian bloggers should know our readers well enough to write accordingly.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. ~~1 Corinthians 8:19-23 (ESV)

So, although I’m delighted if teens and millennials read my blog, I don’t write with them in mind. And, although this blog isn’t primarily evangelistic, I’m pleased when non-Christians read it. If the Lord uses what I write to bring someone to saving faith in Him, hallelujah! But I have no guilt over having a different target audience.

Interestingly, the header for my blog makes it clear that I aim my writing to a specific group of ladies. Once I remembered what I’d written in the header’s tagline, I realized that my writing style entirely fits my target audience.

A few months ago, I changed the tagline for The Outspoken TULIP from a quotation of Romans 1:16 to “Discipling Women for Discernment through Doctrine.” Thinking about the Facebook conversation that happened this past weekend, I realized that my tagline pretty much sums up who my target audience is and why I’m writing to that audience.

I write to educated women who want to have Biblical discernment. Since fewer and fewer churches teach sound doctrine, these women have been unable to develop proper discernment skills. I believe such skills come from learning good doctrine. And good doctrine comes from studying God’s Word.

Therefore, the sort of writing advocated by the blog on blogging wouldn’t be appropriate for my purposes, and I suspect my readers might find it condescending. At this point, I see benefit in continuing to write in this style. I hope you agree.

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