A (Blogging) Year in Review

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
'Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich' photo (c) 2010, Link576 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

From the beginning, blogging has surprised me. I never dreamed it would lead to so many career opportunities, never dreamed it would connect me to such wonderful people, never dreamed it would start so many interesting conversations, never dreamed I would love it as much as I do. 

This year brought a string of new surprises. I could never have predicted this time last year that in 2012 folks would find this blog by searching for “vaginagate,” or “woman of valor,” or “feminist Chick-fil-A,” or “Whoopi womanhood,” or  “egalitarian pleasuring party.”  But that’s what a year of blogging brings—weird, dirty-sounding keyword searches.  

Our very first post of 2012 was about loving the Bible for what it is, not what we want it to be. This post set the tone for the year and launched a series on the Bible that started some fantastic conversations in the comment section. We discussed several books related to the Bible, including The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith, Scripture and the Authority of God by N.T. Wright, and Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns. 

I started speaking more regularly this year, which meant I got to meet more of you in person—at churches, conferences, and colleges from Waco, to Portland, to Minneapolis, to Lynchburg. Some highlights included hanging out with the ladies of Truett Seminary, dancing to “Call Me Maybe” with the youth of the United Methodist Virginia Conference, getting the chance be Nadia Bolz-Weber’s roommate at Wild Goose West, and getting the grand tour of Chicago, complete with pizza, during STORY 2012.  


In March, what has affectionately become known as “Vaginagate” happened. So did Kony 2012. Then Anne Rice shared my post on “Rush Limbaugh and Thee Evangelical Blindspots.” It was a good month for blog stats. 


Our “Ask a…” series continued, with some amazing contributions from Jonathan Martin (“Ask a Pentecostal”), Helena Burns (“Ask a Nun”), Dianna Anderson (“Ask a Feminist”), Sonny Lemmons (“Ask a Stay-At-Home Dad”), and many more. 

In April, I totally pulled your leg with a special edition of Sunday Superlatives

In May, we spent a week discussing gender, the Bible, and the Church in a weeklong series called “Mutuality 2012.” This turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my blogging career, as I heard from so many readers who were challenged and changed by God’s good news for men and women. Your contributions to the synchroblog started conversations around the blogosphere that I know changed lives. 

We talked a lot about church this year. I shared 15 reasons I left church and 15 reasons I’ve returned. Kim VanBrunt shared what it’s like to leave church with a family in tow. I wrote about why I don’t always fit in with mainline churches, and Aric Clark wrote a fantastic response about “the passionate mainline.” We talked about nurturing better conversations between the churched and the un-churched, and then we listened to one another’s church stories—from a young woman with Asperger’s, to an African American calling for reconciliation, to an Episcopal’s love for, and struggle with, the creeds.  Look for more of these stories in 2013 as we spend more time exploring denominationalism and church trends and as we “visit” various faith communities around the country. 

In June, I explained how to watch an entire season of The Bachelorette and still be too good for it.  I also learned that sometimes the shortest posts say the most.  

In July, I pissed off some guys at the Gospel Coalition by suggesting that not every woman thinks getting “conquered and colonized” sounds like a good time. 

We launched our Women of Valor series in August with an essay contest that brought in some of our finest guest posts ever. Your contributions to this series have been such a joy to read and to share. They truly make the Internet better. 


Then, in September, we switched to a new blogging platform (Square Space) and celebrated our 1,000th post. (A big shout-out to Dan for all his work on that.) I started a series on Esther that I never finished (but hope to in the New Year). 

In October I explained why I love the Bible and why I don’t think ambition is a sin. Dan hijacked the blog one day. 

Things get a little blurry after that. At some point Dan and I flew into New York City during a hurricane, got interviewed on The Today Show and The View, and celebrated the release of A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which you helped catapult to the New York Times Bestseller list for ebooks. 


We managed to mostly steer clear of politics this election year, with a few exceptions. On Election Day, we participated in a virtual Election Day Communion

December was pretty quiet on the blog, with the exception of our most-read post of all time, “God can’t be kept out.” 

Another year full of blogging surprises! And I am so, so grateful for each one. Thank you for being a part of my life in this small way. I have learned so much from you, been so profoundly challenged and encouraged by you, and found myself so richly blessed by you, it’s hard to find the right words with which to express my gratitude. 

I plan to spend next week plotting for 2013, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. 

And now, for the obligatory “most popular” list: 

Most Popular Posts

1. God Can’t Be Kept Out

2. Some Words for Christians on Both Sides of the Chick-fil-A War

3. How to Win a Culture War and Lose a Generation

4. 15 Reasons I Left Church & 15 Reasons I Returned to Church 

5. Enough: Or Why We Should All Be Laughing Hysterically in the Magazine Aisle 

6. They Were Right (And Wrong) About the Slippery Slope 

7. The Gospel Coalition, Sex, and Subordination 

8. 40 Ideas for Lent (2012) 

9. Christian Bookstores and Their Chokehold on the Industry 

10. “All Right Then, I’ll Go to Hell”

Best Comment Sections 

1. Barbara Kingsolver and Church Misfits

2. 90s Christian Music Night at the Roller Rink 

3. From Waging War to Washing Feet: How Do We Move Forward?

4. Scattered Thoughts on My Life in the Christian “industry”

5. Bible series posts 

Popular Guest Posts (in no particular order) 

1. “Will you always believe in Jesus, Mama?” (Anonymous)

2. Ask. Seek. Knock. Breath by Beth Woolsey

3. Church Stories: Embracing Faith as an Aspie by Erin Thomas 

4. Church Stories: A Plea to Engage in Racial Reconciliation by Grace Biskie 

5. Women of the Gospels: The Fab Four by Carolyn Custis James 

6. When Men and Women Ministered Together as Equals…In the Early Church by Ed Cyzewski

7. Dear Mother by Sarah Bessey 

8. Is God Really Omnipotent? By Tripp Fulller and Bo Sanders

9. Taking My Thumb Off the Scale by Lois Tverberg  

10. Just a Mediocre Miracle by Neely Stansell Simpson 

So, what were the most popular posts on YOUR blog this year? And what would you like to see more of/less of here in 2013? 

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