Thinking Out Loud

February 24, 2014

Six Years of Thinking Out Loud: A Blogversary

TOL Banner Teal

Today Thinking Out Loud begins its seventh year.

Whoda thunk it? What does one say on such an auspicious occasion?

I guess today I’m struck by the contrast between this blog and most of the others I personally read, which are written by pastors and Christian authors. Is the difference here what brings in so many readers each month? I don’t really think so, but I think it’s important that other people have a voice at the online table. I also know that six years (plus a few reading others and writing an e-newsletter that predates this) of delving into the various issues that occupy space in the Christian blogosphere have been like a graduate school education in both theology itself, ecclesiology and the tension between Christianity and culture.

TOL blogversaryI have allowed myself to be shaped by the writers I read, but by also trained myself to unlearn some things some of them have said when, with the passage of time, their perspectives have become questioned. To paraphrase something my wife’s brother said on Twitter, ‘I’m not here because of what I have to say, rather because it gives me a reason to eavesdrop on so many interesting people.’

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.

So with all the writing that happens here, do I wish I was a published author? I think everyone has a book or two in them.  But not six. The Christian publishing establishment loves to take someone who has a hit title and make a brand out of it. But often the spinoffs are never as vital or passionate as the original. Still, I tried it once, the material is now dated, and I enjoy simply giving away content here each day as long as people come by even though this, combined with my equally non-remunerative vocation was recently calculated to represent a loss of income over the past 20 years in the neighborhood of $1,000,000.00

The phrase “Do Not Attempt” should be at the bottom of each page.

Do I wish I was a local church pastor? Not a senior pastor, though I often wonder about the church plant I did before starting this blog. What if it had been allowed a longer run than its 18-months existence; if a few more months might have made it into something more sustainable, or if a co-leader would have appeared on the horizon to boost the project and give me an occasional break?

As it stands, my local church participation is limited, as in non-existent. Am I a prophet without honor in my own community? That sounds noble. Maybe the supply of able-bodied people willing to serve outstrips the demand — at least for my gift set — so the opportunities go to the younger and better looking. (Think about it, when have you actually seen my picture here?) Heck, they don’t even hand me a plate and ask me to help take up the offering. I think the pastors here have banded together to create a no-fly zone where I’m not allowed to come within 20-feet of a live microphone; a sort of restraining order only I wasn’t served with my copy.  This would explain why all the pulpit supply requests I get are from out of town.

But again, to return to where I began, I think that living in that tension is what gives Thinking Out Loud its unique perspective. Most people who come here have never written a book or preached a sermon, or even served on a church board.

Pastors and Christian authors are great. I’m a fan of many of them, and of the process that gets them their platform. I do truly believe the cream rises to the top. But interacting with your Christian friends and your small group also provides an “iron sharpens iron” experience that can be equally enriching.

In that sense, I think the group of bloggers called “Mommy bloggers” have it right. These women — some, but not all of whom are also home-schoolers — share a ‘Christian life in the trenches’ experience each day that might be dismissed by the academics and Biblical scholars and religious ‘professionals,’ but feeds them daily with spiritual nutrition enriched by everyday life and the lessons that our children and extended families teach us.

So with that in mind, for year seven, I thought I’d devote this space exclusively to recipes and laundry tips. What do you think?

Paul Wilkinson Blogversary


Okay, so that was more personal this year, if you want to know my blog values, there’s this post from last year’s birthday, where you’ll also find I had the energy to write a double post that day.

Graphic: The banners that never were; these are actually from other blogs with the not-so-original name!  (We could have added this one, but you don’t steal images from photographers, at least not consciously.)

If you’ve never done so, be sure to visit this blog’s companion page, Christianity 201. Both are published 365-days a year!

August 21, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Foxtrot Nov 11 2003Foxtrot circa 2003

Been away all summer? In July the Wednesday Link List was the victim of a corporate takeover…. to see the version of this containing the links, you have to click over to Out of Ur, a blog of Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today.

  • Why should the devil have all the good parties? An expert in block parties suggests that Christians should host the best street events.
  • It’s hard to find a place where fracking isn’t a hot environmental issue. What if your church could register claim to the mineral rights underneath the church building?
  • Duck Dynasty star Jase Robertson is kicked out of the Trump hotel when it’s assumed he is a homeless man, in another case of “facial profiling.”
  • Dara Maclean’s video for “Wanted” is powerful both musically and lyrically, but the critics think the glamor/fashion element is overplayed.
  • We’re not sure if it’s a King James Bible or just a generic Bible, but by 2015 you’ll be seeing .bible as an internet domain name.
  • Last year over 13,100 churches participated in a growing national movement and on average saw a 38% increase in their attendance on Back to Church Sunday.
  • Much of the week’s news focus was on Egypt, where the Defense Minister vows to rebuild damaged churches.
  • What if we saw the Bible less as a prison sentence and more like a permission slip? Check out a 2-minute sermon highlights video where Steven Furtick takes a fresh approach to financial giving.
  • When it comes to role of women in the early church, one author believes that part of the story has been “airbrushed from history.”
  • What’s a former Saddleback worship leader doing in a Canadian jail? It could have something to do with things allegedly found in his luggage.
  • Alise Wright drives nearly an hour to attend a church where, by her own admission, she doesn’t fit in.
  • With great regret, in the wake of the loss of his wife and publishing ministry partner on May 8th, Keith Brenton announces the shuttering of Wineskins Magazine.
  • Rick Warren is raising awareness, but one Canadian blogger thinks the church is generally skittish when it comes to mental health issues.
  • A popular devotional blog provides some background to the forthcoming book Dying Out Loud by Shawn Smucker, the story of missionaries Stan and Ann Steward.
  • When viewers phone in to respond to a Billy Graham television program, they don’t know where the calls are being answered. A call center might actually be a transformed Savannah, Georgia chiropractic clinic.
  • The former Crystal Cathedral, now Christ Cathedral — home of the world’s 4th largest church organ — begins $53 million in renovations to bring it up to Catholic standards, I’m guessing.
  • You may call them board members, or even, as one church in my area does “The Directorate.” But there’s still good application in this article about the ordination of elders.
  • On the other side of the pond, it’s not just Presbyterians, but Anglicans who have trouble with that verse in In Christ Alone. [Note: BCP = Book of Common Prayer]
  • The more the merrier: By the time you read this it’s already eight days old, but Phil Vischer Podcast #64 with Sara Groves and Todd Groves ranks as one my favorites.
  • Worship Department: First, we followed the CCLI Top 25 song charts by country; but now there’s also the Praise Charts chart. (Not a typo!)
  • A Chattanooga, Tennessee pastor offers five reasons why discipleship should take place in small groups.
  • Not sure how long this will be there, but the full 70-minutes of Nick Vujicic’s Life Without Limbs video is currently available to watch online.
  • Church History Department: Yes it was his real name. Pentecostal pioneer Smith Wigglesworth passed away in 1947, but like many classic authors his books still sell and he is still tweeting.   (C. S. Lewis tweets several times a day!)
  • Ask the Doctor: A flashback to last year, where Dr. Russell Moore answered, Should a Christian wedding photographer shoot a same-sex marriage ceremony?
  • Who needs videos of cute cats when you can join 600,000 people online and watch an Oklahoma pastor’s sermon where he takes a strip off some of his congregants by name.

Well, we could just keep on going, but we might lose some of you around link #50. The action stays here at Thinking Out Loud the rest of the week, or you can always join my rather anemic group of followers on Twitter.  And again, in case you missed it, the links are active at Out of Ur.  A final graphic — one of last week’s links — from Sacred Sandwich:

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