The first post, February 24, 2008 - We began this journey as a response to comments I was getting from an email newsletter I produced that people “liked the articles.” The first post was titled “Honestly! The world DOES need another blog page!” and consisted of some excerpts from the 2003 book A is for Abductive by Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren and Jerry Haselmayer. Interesting to look back and consider that aspect of the blog’s beginning alone.
…It appears that God may be more active outside the church than in it. In other words, “inside the church” may not be the best place to share in God’s work, and if we want to be involved in God’s work, we may need to get out more.
…It may be more valid to celebrate this idea of God’s activity outside the church, because perhaps God’s purpose for the church all along has been to equip people to be agents through whom God works in the world.
…It may be helpful for us to distinguish between “church work” (i.e. our work inside the church to keep it going) and “the work of the church” (i.e. the church fulfilling its mission in the world). …The old complaint about 20% of the people doing 80% of the church work in this light may be misguided. If the minority (20%) can do church work, then maybe the majority (80%) can focus on serving God outside the box and boat.
First Anniversary, February 24, 2009 - Noted the day before that the first year I wrote 660 posts, an average of two a day.
I figured I wouldn’t write anything; I’d just use a huge backlog of articles I’d developed in other places for other reasons. Boy, did I get that one wrong. As every Israelite knows, the manna doesn’t stay fresh for long.
I also figured I’d read more stuff online, but didn’t realize that other bloggers would spur me on to read more books as well. Do I get a diploma for doing this? A little academic credit perhaps?”
Second Anniversary, February 23, 2010 – Had to celebrate a day early because the midweek link list was already becoming a priority. It was noted that:
Thinking Out Loud began the same week as two other blogs, 22 Words and Stuff Christians Like…
…It’s also interesting to note that — as far as Canada is concerned — each day, I get to speak to six times as many adults than half of all pastors here see on Sunday morning…
Too bad those other two blogs never amounted to anything! My statement of purpose at this point was:
I also want to continue to make this a blog for the ‘spiritual commoner.’ That’s the person who feels he or she has a real contribution to make to the life of their church, Christian fellowship or broader community…
Third Anniversary, February 24, 2011 – Christianity 201 had launched that year…
I remember years ago participating in a discussion about the “emerging” internet where the main concern ran something like this, “How are they ever going to get enough content to keep those websites supplied with fresh material?”
In 2011, a better question might be, “How does one find enough hours in the day to read all the sites they are subscribed to or have bookmarked?” I figure a typical week lands me on about 1,000 different types of internet sites, and I don’t consider myself a heavy online user. Every single person reading this actually has a completely unique internet experience weekly.
Today, this blog enters year four. I have mixed feelings about that. I’m happy that this blog has become a voice albeit in a crowded room of voices all talking at once. I’m continually amazed — and somewhat humbled — that hundreds of you show up here every day, many just to see what’s been posted recently…
…There is much to be thankful for today. I actually oversee seven blogs now, of which the latest, Christianity 201, has arrived on the scene since we celebrated this time last year. It keeps me humbled. Very humbled. While some endeavors in the Christian life remind you how far you’ve come and what you have accomplished, C201 reminds me of how far I’ve got to go. Jesus set the bar rather high.
A handful of you also read my book industry blog, Christian Book Shop Talk… Yesterday’s post had someone suggesting bookstores are going the way of record shops and video rental stores. Sigh. In that setting, I get to be a voice in an increasingly empty room…
Fourth Anniversary, February 24, 2012 – A rather light and concise post:
I decided to check the blog’s dashboard to see what other meaningful statistic I could parade out before you on this solemn occasion, and I found this:
Akismet has protected your site from 294,600 spam comments already.
I don’t know how that compares with the big boys, but I’m honored just to think that on 294,600 occasions Russian models and manufacturers of imitation European handbags found this particular blog so worth spamming. And while the rest of the blog stats may pale in comparison, just think how quickly they are about to rise now that we’ve used the phrase ‘Russian models.’
Fifth Anniversary, February 24, 2013 – This one is probably the most interesting and the only one I’ll actually link to here. I listed, in no particular order, ten things I’ve learned in the course of reading and writing Christian blogs. I might re-run this item later in the week, but in the meanwhile, here is the link. There was also a regular anniversary column the day before:
I am really happy that I launched Thinking Out Loud all those years ago. I have met some of the greatest people, been encouraged to read some of the most interesting books, have been kept abreast of some of the most bizarre religious news stories, and mostly, I have been forced to think about things that I might have never considered.
Sixth Anniversary, February 24, 2014 - At this point the Wednesday Link List had become part of what is now called PARSE, the former Out of Ur blog.
I’m also thankful that this summer, Thinking Out Loud gained a greater platform itself by becoming a weekly part of life at Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today. I still believe it’s a greater thing to make the news (in a good way, not the weird stories) than it is to simply write the news. But I don’t mind playing scribe if it means I get to choose some things I think are worth noting as part of each week’s passing scene.
I am truly grateful for being able to be in online contact with an organization I have always respected and some people who I was already aware of. Thanks to Skye, Drew, Paul P. and Tim for your encouragement.
…which brings us to Seventh Anniversary, February 24, 2015
I thought of including a screenshot of the first column, but like the McDonald’s logo, not much has changed here visually. 3,094 published columns later, I’m still happy I started this little project.
As blog readership continues to wane as people have so many choices online, I’m pleased to report that Christianity 201 continues to attract new readers. If you ask me which blog I think about first thing in the morning, it really does vary. I enjoy doing both, and while I could have kept both types of articles on a single platform at Thinking Out Loud, I’m glad that separating them forces me to look at both types of writing on a daily basis.
If you read widely on the Christian internet, you know that the definition of evangelical is currently under the microscope, but I want to keep the writing at Thinking Out Loud somewhat mainstream evangelical as I believe that the voices from the margins tend to dominate. That said however, those voices have much to contribute.
There’s an adage that “even a stopped clock is wrong twice a day,” and I feel that instead of looking for the thing to criticize, we ought to look for the little gems — the nuggets of gold — where writers we might otherwise disagree with actually do get it right. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of grace online, even among Christians. This always saddens me.
I think that’s why doing the link list is so much fun. Again, I am forced to read the widest variety of Christian news and opinion pieces from a vast field of writers I might not otherwise consider. I may disagree totally with what they wrote Thursday and Saturday, but if they make some good points on Friday, I want to be able to celebrate that.
I’d like to think that I am capable of sitting down for coffee with any writer who has trusted in the atoning work of Christ on Calvary for salvation. I do know that some of them might not want to reciprocate that. That is unfortunate and I believe grieves the Holy Spirit.
In conclusion, I guess I’m just grateful for what this writing platform had done for my own Christian growth and understanding of the Church, the body of Christ. I’m also thankful for the books it compels me to read which enhance my understanding of God and His ways. And last, I’m thankful for you, the faithful readers whose page views and link clicks demonstrate a shared interest in these things.
Thinking Out Loud: Matters of Faith Because Faith Matters
Year 8 begins tomorrow with the Wednesday Link List