Thinking Out Loud

April 18, 2015

Thinking Out Loud after PARSE

Link List - Out of Ur22 Months ago, an email from Skye Jethani changed things around here and forced me to raise the bar on what I was doing with the Wednesday Link Lists. He wrote,

I’m a fan of your Wednesday Link List. Not only is it helpful and concise, but I enjoy some of the wit and whimsy of your comments. I think the readers of Leadership Journal’s blog, Out of Ur, would benefit from what you’ve created. I wanted to explore the possibility of having your weekly link list published on our site in order to give it a wider audience.

Just days later, the first installment appeared at Out of Ur, later renamed PARSE.

I have always had great admiration for Christianity Today, and I wish there were space here to list the great Christian writers and leaders who have had staff positions with its various publications. I actually applied to be a columnist at Leadership Journal (their website is the parent to PARSE) in the days before the internet, and still have the rejection letter from Kevin Miller. If you’re going to be turned down, at least be turned by the best.

Out of UrI will admit that I got carried away at times. One of the lists had 38 links in it. So more recently we transitioned to a new format whereby there would be far fewer stories, much longer excerpts, and a twice weekly format that was originally envisioned as ten on Wednesday five on Saturday, but ended up being close to ten each time. I will admit that I still get carried away at times.

The biggest joy of writing for people at Leadership Journal was knowing that the material I selected was being seen by people in full time vocational ministry. It was, in its own small way, a means whereby an ordinary writer like me could be an influencer.  In an earlier lifetime, I had stepped down from a similar monthly column at Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine with the closing line, “While it’s a fine thing to write the news, I think it’s a better thing to make the news.”  (Actually, it was the dark ages, and italics had not been invented yet.)

Now I’m not so sure that was wise. Certainly, as a frustrated musician, it was hard to write of others’ successes, but this time around, in a world where everyone has a blog and is clamoring for attention, there is some honor in choosing what types of news stories and opinion pieces people see.

Working with people whose opinions and perspective on Christianity and culture resonate with me has been a blast, even if we’ve never met face to face. I can’t thank Skye Jethani enough for the opportunity, and also thank Paul Pastor, Drew Dyck and Tim Gioia for doing the legwork of making what I wrote visible to so many. 

But alas, things change, so last week I was abruptly told by Drew Dyck,

…After many years, first as “Out of Ur” then as PARSE, we will be shutting down our blog.  I’ve been incredibly grateful for the awesome job you’ve done for us. I still don’t know how you manage to track down all the relevant/interesting stories for church leaders around the web—and then do such a great job of setting them up. Anyway, with Paul Pastor gone, maintaining a multi-voice blog has been a challenge…

So as suddenly as it began, it ended.

Ironically, PARSE just won Third Place in the Blog category at an Evangelical Press Association awards night, and is also the #15 blog on the latest Top 300 list from Church Relevance. I’m not sure that dumping a relatively hot internet property like that is wise, especially when blogs are struggling to maintain readership numbers. But that’s their call.

Again, I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with a great team.

…And now we come to where I need your help. The Wednesday Link List will continue. I’m not sure about the Weekend Link List however. The question is, do you like the excerpts or would you prefer the original listing of nothing but bullet points?

Please email me via the contact page, or leave a comment right here or on Twitter.

And if you manage a Christian website that has a budget, use the contact page if you’d like to offer the Wednesday Link List a new home.


  1. I like the original version. Short excerpts are better. Long excerpts defeat The purpose of having a link “list”.

    Comment by Joel — April 18, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

    • That certainly makes sense. There was something at the time about CT research showing that link lists and news roundups were perhaps becoming passe. I can’t find the exact email for that one, but in another, the justification at the time went something like this:

      I think that you have done a very strong job of providing interesting, excellent links that represent a broad swath of topics and sources in the Christian world. I always am interested! The issue might result from an embarrassment of riches and a lack of share-able focus. With that hypothesis, let’s try something new.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 18, 2015 @ 2:42 pm

      • Personally, I clicked through less with the longer excerpts.

        Comment by Joel — April 18, 2015 @ 2:45 pm

  2. I really like the original version as well. I do find that I rarely click through the longer versions and many times I realize would lose some real gems by not clicking through. But I really enjoy getting 2 editions as well. The weekend list is a great way to start the weekend!

    Comment by Pastor_Mike — April 18, 2015 @ 5:17 pm

    • The Saturday column is really a whole other subject. I did do this occasionally before, but for the past dozen weeks or so it has been a staple here. Obviously this week we took a break…

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 18, 2015 @ 5:25 pm

  3. I loved the Wed Bullet Points….

    What would be neat is the original version for Wed and the excerpts for Sat…

    Comment by rickda — April 19, 2015 @ 10:06 pm

  4. I like the original bulleted version. And one per week seems to be best – it makes it something to look forward to more so than if it’s twice a week. They’re very helpful Paul, thanks for faithfully putting it together.

    Comment by Grayson Pope — May 20, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

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