How Did Pixel & Pulpit Do In 2023?
Also what's in store for next year
As we reach the one-year mark here at Pixel & Pulpit, I reflect on the goals I set up for myself in January when we launched.
Admittedly, a major portion of this Substack’s existence is due to necessity. It was time for the Checkpoint Church newsletter to focus more on that community’s needs and less on this Nerd Pastor’s learnings. Pixel & Pulpit was born out of this desire to hone the content logically first and foremost.
But that’s not to say there weren’t more impassioned goals. I have discovered within myself this year a desire to equip leaders in the field. I’ve spoken at several conferences, led webinars, and coached many planters.
Looking Back on 2023
The goals I had set for this space were as follows:
I had also hoped to begin drafting a book on nerd ministry.
We have dramatically exceeded my expectations regarding subscribers. We are nearing 350 as of the time of writing this post.
Comments (21) and recommendations (3) haven’t quite lined up as anticipated, but that could come from a bit of ignorance around the platform of Substack itself. A platform, by the way, that has more than a few shifts of its own during the year.
Some of our biggest posts were around things I’ve been longing to get off my chest for quite a while.
Thank the Ones That Say Goodbye was a bit of a lament to the craft of digital community building that I’ve discovered over the past three years. It was a tough write, but very much one that I personally needed—which I believe is what makes for the strongest posts here.
No One Likes Your Digital Church was another bit of harsh truth that I needed. It clearly made an impact on this community, as well.
These posts, being some of our most impactful, help me better comprehend the shape that this Substack should take in 2024, but more on that in a bit.
Another twist on the year was testing out the podcasting feature of Substack and being fairly overwhelmed by the dramatic loss of subscribers whenever it launched. I’m not sure if this audience was adverse to the medium of podcasting as a whole or if it was due to the daily nature of the NaPodPoMo challenge. I’m not opposed to re-visioning Thou Art Online in 2024, but I must admit I’m trepidatious after the clear distaste from this community in November.
All in all, Pixel & Pulpit has been an absolute delight. It’s been a low-stress situation. I have enough responsibilities of posting daily content in other avenues, so having a space that flexes to my schedule has been a wonderful gift.
What’s Next for Pixel & Pulpit
Where do we go from here?
If anything, I might argue this is where we finally get started. I’ve seen what this audience is looking for a space that sees their genuine concerns and provides some ideas on addressing them.
The reality of digital ministry is that it continues to be fraught with naysayers.
While I cannot provide all of the answers on how to fix the church, I certainly feel capable of being vulnerable enough to name the elephants in the room.
After all—I’m living them.
This past Fall, I was given the opportunity to attend the Nerd Culture Ministry Summit in Texas. I was surrounded by other nerd-focused ministers and their communities for two days.
Before that, I was able to join the members of the Convergence Digital Ministry Fellows in Atlanta, GA. In this space, I was the lone nerd-focused minister, but I was with other digital ministers in a way that provided exceptional communal learning.
Both of these events left me with two major takeaways:
There aren’t near enough of us.
We’re so much better together.
So, as we trudge forward into 2024, let me assure you: Pixel & Pulpit isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I believe that this is a needed resource. There are people just like me or where I was three years ago, and they need a lifeline. I hope that this Substack community can be shaped into a space that encourages and provides for those who need it.
For the ones who keep having their communities questioned,
For the ones who are looked down on for their online church,
For the ones who aren’t given a chance before getting an eye roll,
I hope that I can be there for you in 2024. I invite you to join us on this journey into the digital and nerd ministry world. I won’t stop until every nerd, geek, and gamer knows that Jesus loves them.
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Welcome to our SIXTY-SEVEN new subscribers since our last post! We’re glad you’re here.
Given this new post, let’s set some goals for next year.
I want to maintain our goal of 500 subscribers. However, I think our recommendation and comment goals feel somewhat irrelevant in the coming year.
Instead, I will turn on the Referrals setting for Substack. When you refer Pixel & Pulpit to people, and they subscribe, you will get points on the Leaderboard. As you get more referrals, I will happily comp some free paid subscription months for you as thanks.
This will be less of a trackable “goal” and more of a step forward in embodying the culture of Pixel & Pulpit as a space that is designed to reach those who need it. If you know of a digital or nerd minister, connect them to this space.