Thinking Out Loud

May 15, 2017

A Golden Age of Christian Blogging

Blogging introduces you to a worldwide collective of people you will probably never meet in this life.   Nonetheless, the online connection means that you can be a source of encouragement to many, many people. The right words, fitly spoken at the right time, can really make a difference in a person’s life.  That’s why I like this picture. The words are coming off the page to bring comfort. Everybody needs a bit of that now and then. The best things that are happening in the blogsphere aren’t always happening on the blogs themselves, but in the meta. When you get to follow-up with someone who has a particular interest. Or try to offer some direct, offline advice to someone who might appreciate a bit of a challenge.  Or know of a third-party resource that could be of great help. Or just to say, “I really don’t have a clue about your whole situation, but I want you to know someone is reading your blog who really cares.” Or offer to pray for them. To actually pray for them.

Words communicate. People are listening. You can have a part in what they hear.

~ Thinking Out Loud, September 2008

Recently I was thinking about the writers who inspired me to start doing this…many of who are no longer writing online, or are doing something completely different. After leaving comments on other blogs, I decided to start one of my own. We started on a platform called e4God, but fortunately were able to migrate the content to WordPress.

Honestly, I think this was a golden age for Christian blogging. Twitter wasn’t a force and podcasts were rare. Today, many bloggers simply post videos or podcast links or have abandoned their platform altogether in favor of the 140-character alternative. 

Travel back in time with me; except where noted these are in no particular order.

  • 22 Words — Not the blog you now know, but in those days, Abraham Piper actually confined each post to exactly 22 words.
  • Sacramentis — Sally Morganthaler’s website was a hub for people who wanted to discuss worship ideas. The church was going through a period of accelerated change, and people like Sally, Nancy Beach and Robert Weber were all speaking into that change.
  • Stuff Christians Like — The mind of Jon Acuff knew no boundaries. Think Babylon Bee for a previous decade. I think of Jon every time I’m in church and need to give someone a side hug. The blog spun off a book deal with Zondervan.
  • Stuff White Christians Like — …well, let’s be honest; there were a number of spin-offs from Jon’s blog, Stephy’s was one of them.
  • Lark News — The original Babylon Bee.
  • The Very Worst Missionary — Jamie Wright provided a missionary’s perspective on short term mission trips which many of us will never forget.
  • Fred McKinnon — What avid worship leader didn’t visit late Sunday night or midday Monday to find out what other worship leaders had posted to The Sunday Set List?
  • Puragtorio — Can someone help me remember this one? Seriously.
  • ASBO Jesus — From across the pond, Jon Birch’s website was delightfully cynical. The initials stand for Anti Social Behavior Order.
  • Flowerdust — The writer formerly known as Anne Jackson gained a huge following early on and was a reminder to us all that it was okay to be broken or wounded or both.
  • Evotional — The original blog of Mark Batterson, bestselling author and pastor of National Community Church in DC.  (When he called his first book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, I thought, “That’s a real dumb title. So much for his writing career.”)
  • Letters from Camp Krusty — My first initiation into the wonderful strange world of Brant Hansen.
  • Greg Boyd — This guy had a huge influence on us. We spent endless road trips throughout the U.S. popping discs in the CD player of downloaded sermons from Woodland Hills Church on the Gospel of Luke. Great memories. “Now go out and build the kingdom!”
  • Skyebox — Skye Jethani would later play a pivotal role in my own life for which I am most grateful. Today, he’s a regular on The Phil Vischer Podcast and an important analyst and commentator on the state of Evangelicalism in North America.
  • Out of Ur — The blog of Leadership Journal at Christianity Today and for 22 months, the home of the Wednesday Link List. (See previous entry.)
  • Tall Skinny Kiwi — As I write this, Andrew Jones and the girls are heading back to Europe mid-June. His unique, ongoing story continues and he has my utmost respect and admiration for carrying on despite the loss of Debbie to complications from malaria and typhoid.
  • Donald Miller — I don’t think it was called StoryLine back then, but I can’t remember. He’s been at this a long time!
  • Bene Diction Blogs On — Investigative blogging in an era before Warren Throckmorton. But who was Bene Diction? I have a friend who claims to know and says I knew her. Wait, what? Her?
  • Naked Pastor — David Hayward migrated his blog to Patheos but then moved back to his own domain. I love his writing, but I’m sure he’s best known for the pictures: Original artwork which you can purchase.
  • Without Wax — Pete Wilson is still blogging. Back then, they were like family; I can still name all three of Pete’s boys.
  • Trevin Wax — (no relation to the above) Trevin is now more aligned with a tribe I no longer follow, but I tracked with his writing for many years.
  • Challies — Tim Challies must have been in the right place at the right time, because today his blog regularly ranks in the Top Ten Christian blog lists in the U.S. though, like myself, he is Canadian. Must reading for the neo-Calvinist set. (Tim lives just about 90 minutes from me. Sometimes in the early morning we drive by his house and root through his recycling bin.)
  • Take Your Vitamin Z — Zach Nielson’s blog had a cool title. Three years ago this month, like many others, he switched his primary focus from blogging to Twitter. 
  • Desiring God — The Pipester was a force to be reckoned with! You never actually had to read it though, because for a time, the Calvinist world faithfully re-blogged every word J.P. wrote.
  • Reformissionary — The original name for Steve McCoy’s blog. Many nights at supper we prayed for Molly.
  • DashHouse — Another Canadian, Darryl Dash now writes primarily for fellow pastors and church leaders. He left a comfortable church in the Toronto suburbs a few years back to church plant in the urban core, albeit a more upscale neighborhood.
  • Team Pyro — Note that we clustered all the Calvinist bloggers together here. These guys helped convince me that there was a type of Christ follower I wanted to be, and that tribe wasn’t it. (At this writing, the blog has been inactive for about six weeks. Don’t people need their weekly dose of Spurgeon?)
  • CenturiOn — Frank Turk from Team Pyro. (Not to be confused with apologist Frank Turek.) I have to give them credit for the excellent illustrations and images.
  • Vintage Blog— Another one from that era who is still writing; Dan Kimball aka “the guy with the pompadour haircut.” If you’re ever in Santa Cruz, look up Vintage Church.
  • Eugene Cho — Another writer who’s been at this for a long time. Korean-born Cho is an author, lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and founder of the charity One Day’s Wages.
  • Jesus Creed — Scot McKnight is another writer who has been faithfully at his computer producing a large number of columns each week since the world was flat. (With enough book sales, perhaps one day he’ll be able to afford the second ‘t’ in his first name.) 
  • John Shore — I tend to think of John today in terms of one particular issue, but in the early days his blog was home for all those who had gotten burned out in their church experience.
  • Michael Hyatt — Better known today for his writing on leadership issues, on building platform and on writing itself, it was his pieces on the publishing industry I enjoyed most back in the day.
  • Blog In My Own Eye — Keith Brenton was another writer who snagged a great blog title. It’s been four years now since Angi, the love of his life was taken from us; yet each day at 3:00 PM, Keith goes on Twitter to offer to pray for anyone with a need or a request.
  • Fire in my Bones — From the then-editor of Charisma Magazine, Lee Grady who still has a blog at the magazine. Right now I can’t think of a more balanced Pentecostal/Charismatic writer. (Maybe Jack Hayford, but he never blogged, did he?)
  • Monday Morning Insights — Over the years, the Wednesday Link List borrowed a number of story leads from Todd Rhoades’ blog.
  • The Idea Club — You never heard of it, right? Actually it was the original name for Cathy Lynn Grossman’s religion blog at USAToday. (Thinking Out Loud actually began as a USAToday blog as well.) An excellent religion reporter. You probably remember better from Faith and Reason. Watch for her byline where quality journalism is sold.
  • Internet Monk — Still updated daily, but sadly without its founder, the late Michael Spencer. This one resonated with a lot of people at a transitional time for the church at large.
  • Boar’s Head Tavern — Another blog Michael Spencer started. 
  • Shlog — The original name for musician Sean Groves’ blog.  
  • One Hand Clapping — Julie Clawson was an important voice in those early days. I wonder who reading this knows how the blog got its name?
  • …Help! I can’t stop…

…This ended up longer than I planned. Those were great days. Through these and other writers I got to read some great books and think about things related to God, Jesus, The Bible, Church, Evangelism, Doctrine, etc., that I otherwise might never have considered.

My life is richer because of all of you…

…So…who did I miss from that era who was big impact on you?


And now, a Best-of… moment from those early days:

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November 4, 2015

Wednesday Link List

door knockers

Welcome to a new, slightly slimmed-down link list. The bottom line is that blog engagement is not what it once was, and Thinking Out Loud is no exception. Providing 35-40 links is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work; work for which we don’t get paid, as the blog is not monetized. So it’s actually the number of hours spent on this week’s link that were cut. If you send in suggestions then the quantity might go up slightly in those weeks. 

Top links last week were (1) Reformed/Anabaptist; (2) Worship industry killing worship; and (3) Gospel Centered ministry. 

The Wednesday List Lynx; one of many, actually that have been featured here.

The Wednesday List Lynx; one of many, actually that have been featured here.

Also, if you only show up here once a week, 6 days ago there was a Thursday Link List you missed.

For our closing graphic, Mad Magazine gets rather serious:

Debt Problem - Mad Magazine

October 28, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Praying to Barbie? No, you can't buy them, but as this story at Religion News Service reports, you can see them at an Argentine art installation.

Praying to Barbie? No, you can’t buy them, but as this story at Religion News Service reports, you can see them at an Argentine art installation. “Barbie is depicted as Joan of Arc, Virgin of Guadalupe — Mexico’s patron saint — and Mary Magdalene, with a low-cut dress that shows her chest. Ken is shown as Buddha and Moses…” Click the image to read the full story.

Only in America: These evangelistic Halloween treats are,

Only in America: These evangelistic Halloween treats are, “a tri-color candy–yellow, orange, and white, the colors of God–in the shape of a pointed seed and sweetened with honey.” Click the image to read the full story at Religion News Service.

I didn’t get around to putting the top five clicks from last week on Twitter, so here they are: (1) 8 Reasons the Worship Industry is Killing Worship, (2) creative church error-404 pages, (3) Lynne Hybels; 40th Anniversary of Willow Creek, (5) John Hendrix church doodles; and (5) Larry Tomczak. (Let me know if you prefer them here, or on Twitter.)  Now on to this week’s…

Finally, it turns out while we weren’t paying attention last month, the comic strip Mutts by Patrick McDonnell ran a series of panels with quotes from Pope Francis. Here’s two of my favorites:

Pope Francis Mutts Sept 24 2015

Pope Francis Mutts Sept 22 2015

Back to the Winter: Don’t forget that here in North America, this is the weekend we all get to go back in time; from Daylight Saving to Nightdark Losing.

Daylight Saving.


12 More Links! Tomorrow we feature a Thursday Link List for only the 8th time ever. Don’t miss it.

October 21, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Bill and Lynne Hybels

So…any guesses who these people are? Or why they chose to share the photo with a bear whose last moments don’t look particularly happy? Answer below.

ELCA 404 Page

 

October 14, 2015

Wednesday Link List

I know some of you come here looking for the weird stuff, so let’s waste no time. This week, we only had to go to the website of Creflo Dollar:

Creflo Dollar Ministries Screenshot October 11 2015

You can read more about that at this link. (If you didn’t grow up in the church and feel you so far missed hearing about financial prosperity during the Good Friday and Easter services, you didn’t miss what isn’t there.) This later resulted in this cartoon.

Now on to the regular stuff:

KJV License Plate

 

If you find a link that is blocked by a pay-wall, let us know so we can remove it. Please try to have your link suggestions in by 6:00 PM EST via email or Twitter.

October 7, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Life on Mars

Notes:

  1. For those of you really into links, note that the blog aggregator Alltop has been reformatted. You can read the intro or a summary (depending on the source) to each article now by simply waving your mouse over the links at their site. Check out Alltop Church and Alltop Christianity. (So grateful to be in such great company at this site!)
  2. If you missed it, this past Saturday there was a shorter Weekend Link List
  3. The #IamAChristian graphic below is sized-ready for your Facebook profile pic and ties in with the UCC shooting last week, a rather sobering thought as you post it.

I Am a ChristianNow, on to this week’s catch…

We end with a personal favorite from the new Christmas Worship Volume Two by Paul Baloche. In this song Rita Baloche combines beautiful lyrics with a classic tune:

September 30, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Bruxy Tattoo - Leviticus 19 28

Bruxy Cavey, pastor of Canada’s fastest growing church movement, The Meeting House family of churches, got a tattoo over the summer. Click the image to see the verse reference.

…And now, I hereby declare these links officially open. 

UPDATE: 8 AM, Wednesday: Of all the various things I could link to this morning concerning the execution earlier today of Kelly Gissendaner, the one I bring you is simply the brief Twitter thoughts of one of the three media people called to witness the lethal injection, Jeff Hullinger of WXIA-TV.

Got a link suggestion? Try to get it to us by 7:00 PM EST Tuesday.

Sporting Events

September 23, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Annual Christmas PageantIf the thought of planning another church Christmas pageant leaves you nauseous, you might want to pick up a copy of the above book. Details at the aptly named Church Marketing Sucks

Anyway, last week on Twitter when we did that week’s “most clicked” list, I noted that we seem to have kept many readers from the PARSE days, based on the links you find most interesting, so this week we have an extra dose of church leadership articles.

...We're going to assume by this that North Point Community Church topped the Outreach Magazine list again this year.

…We’re going to assume by this that North Point Community Church topped the Outreach Magazine list again this year. (Yes, they did.)

We apologize. A link appeared here earlier in the day from a blogger who has specifically asked us not to use his material.

September 16, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Children Texting

Would you like to know how one regular Wednesday Link List reader, just by submitting news and opinion link ideas could win $500? So would a lot of people. We don’t have that contest. But we do love those of you who submit suggestions.

Kim Davis Billboard

Which then led us to this one:

Don't Let Beliefs Interfere With Your Job

September 9, 2015

Wednesday Link List

bae ain't bae if bae don't pray

Meow

Meow

Here’s what some people wrote about since we last linked:

Lego Vatican

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