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Weblog Archive 

 

July 30 - August 2, 2002

 

Friday 2nd August, 2002

 

Christian Blogging – Future Directions

The launch of the new blogs4God web portal means the winding down from my site of the Christian bloglist, which has been here for the past three months. From the 200-plus blogs I must now decide which links to keep. The temptation, of course, is to retain them all. But I’d prefer to be able to offer my visitors a set of links to sites that I like and recommend, as well as sites that I myself visit fairly regularly.

 

So I have spent the past few days reviewing all the sites on the list, and the result is that I’ve been thinking a bit about the future of Christian blogging.

 

That’s not to say I have any great prescience on the matter. Is blogging a fad? Is it a serious new movement that could revolutionise the media? Are Christian bloggers having an impact on the culture? On the church? Or are the main readers of Christian blogs Christian bloggers?

 

Actually, I’ve no idea. I have a lot more questions than answers. So, rather than fill this space with a lot of speculative hot air, I shall instead try to guide readers to a small selection of sites that I think might offer pointers to the future. They are not necessarily my all-time favourite Christian blogs, nor are they presented in any particular order. Most are smaller sites that are not probably well known.

 

* Opinionated - A community blog by the people at Toongabbie Anglican Church in Sydney. It seems to me there has to be all kinds of scope for church blogs, especially if your congregation includes articulate, computer-literate members. It’s a chance to explore faith, exchange ideas, encourage others and sound off about the world. See also The Vine community blog, from the Vine and Branches Christian Community in Kentucky.

 

* Esler Fried – I’ve always been a fan of Ted Esler’s coal-face commentaries on mission work. There’s surely scope for more blogging in the mission community. Many churches wonder how to maintain contact with their missionaries. How about a community church blog, allowing interaction between missionaries (of course, only those with a reasonable internet connection) and church members? And it would be good to see some blogs from missionaries in the field. I only know of Stranger in a Strange Land, from an American missionary in Bosnia.

 

* Care and Feeding – Steve Schultz writes about running his church choir. We need more blogs like this, from all the various workers of the church, with preference given to those holding strong opinions and the desire to express them. Steve unfortunately is not a prolific blogger, but he’s always worth reading. What wonderful encouragement, for tin-voice worshippers like me, from the following post:

 

Any tips for those tone deaf parishioners like me who would love to be able to carry a tune at least half-respectably so we can join the song?

First, let me say that I think everyone should sing in Church. The idea regarding congregational singing is that our intent is what's important, not how well we actually sing. It strikes me that if more people around you were singing with gusto you wouldn't feel like you’re sticking out. Granted, it's tough to know you're not singing well and have everyone around you hear it.

From an actual singing standpoint, there's two kinds of "tone deafness" - one where a person is just not used to matching pitch -  sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. The other is real tone-deafness - never being about to match pitch. It could be that you just need a little practice. I would recommend getting some CDs you can try to sing along with and see how that works. Try it with whatever music you like and see how it goes. It could be you get better over time.

 

More please.

 

* Heart, Mind & Strength – I think group blogs like this one are part of the wave of the future. Consistent, quality blogging is hard work. Share the load – work with a group, preferably with a group of strong writers. National Review Online’s The Corner was a pioneer, and blogs4God is also now successfully doing it. Department of Theology at University of Blogistan is another.

 

* Cranky Professor – Michael Tinkler writes a quirky, sometimes grumpy, wonderfully opinionated blog about life as a professor of art history at a “pricey liberal arts college”. Less pugnacious, but still another favourite, is theConnexion.net from Richard Hall, a Methodist minister in Wales, who writes his random ramblings – unfailingly with love - about life and all the other stuff around him. We need more like them.

 

* e-church com.munity weblog – e-church minister Tim Bednar has a site full of ideas for developing a “user-created Christian com.munity”. I think he could be part of the future of the Christian blogosphere. He writes:

 

I am disappointed with the disproportionate number of sites that discuss “post-modern ministry”, compared to those actually that minister online. In my opinion, only a handful of websites or churches do spiritual work online (MethodX and Beliefnet). Instead most Christian web sites either communicate to other ministers (The Ooze), provide spiritual information (Crosswalk), or service bricks and mortar ministries (For ministry or Willow Creek). Most of the content is provided by well-known writers that are part of the Christian publishing industry. There are few alternative voices. I want to provide a publishing platform that serves everyday Christians who like to write and desire to participate in reasoned dialogue about meaningful issues.

 

Actually, there are plenty more sites with hints for future directions. I’ll look at others in future commentaries.

 

 

Tuesday 30th July, 2002

 

The Christian BlogList – Some Reflections

Yesterday’s launch of the blogs4God web portal marks a new era in Christian blogging. It could have quite an impact on the entire blogging community. So as the person who launched the original Christian bloglist - way back in April this year – I feel it is an appropriate time to take a look at how the list got going. On Friday I’ll add my two cents worth on where Christian blogging might be heading.

 

I started my website hoping to attract readers with writings that presented a Christian perspective on life. I incorporated a blog, because as a long-time newspaper reporter I enjoy commenting on the news, and also because I wanted to bring in regular visitors while I built up my file of articles and commentaries.

 

When I started I didn’t know of many other Christian bloggers. I read Andrew Sullivan, along with Holy Weblog and Relapsed Catholic. That was about it.

 

But gradually I came to learn of more, and I realised that there wasn’t a lot of interaction between them. Many didn’t seem to be aware of the others. All sorts of good stuff was being written, but wasn’t getting read by many people.

 

I thought an article on my site about the phenomenon of Christian blogging might prove an consciousness-raising exercise (and of course, as a new blogger, I was also looking for ways to raise the profile of my site). So I sent out questionnaires to all the Christian bloggers I could find – a couple of dozen, I think – and then wrote an article, Blogging for the Lord, based on the replies. At the end of the article I added a list of the 12 Christian bloggers who had responded to my questionnaire.

 

I posted the article on my site at the end of April, and sent off an email about it to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit. Within about 10 minutes the following appeared:

 

HERE COME THE CHRISTIAN BLOGGERS. I think he's left out some, but I don't tend to sort people that way so I'll have to think a bit to see if I can remember who it is.

 

And a little later:

 

UPDATE: Well, there's Amy Wellborn, for one.

 

I realised that Glenn had taken the list at the end of my article – of respondents to my questionnaire – as intended to be a complete list of all Christian bloggers. It was already after 11pm in the US, and Instapundit had shut down for the night, so it was too late to ask for a correction. I decided to compile a real list of Christian blogs, and over the next 12 hours (it was still daytime here in Melbourne) worked to track them down.

 

I found about 60, and the next day posted the names on my site, under the title “The Semi-Definitive List”, the implication of course being that while I felt I’d probably missed a few, this list was about as complete as was possible.

 

Glenn Reynolds linked to me again, and then the list was cited in an article by John Leo in US News and World Report. From that point, it took on something of a life of its own.

 

My next plan had been to write fairly comprehensive reviews of each of the blogs, turning the list into a kind of directory. This, I thought, would help Christians – and in particular Christian bloggers – know what was going on in their zone of the blogosphere. I imagined I could review all 60 blogs within a few weeks.

 

But suddenly I started getting emails – up to a dozen a week – notifying me of new blogs, or blogs I had missed. I abandoned the idea of a directory full of reviews, settling instead for a brief description of each blog. Even that took me several weeks of work, and was only completed thanks to a gracious offer of help from Jeffrey Collins.

 

The list quickly grew to 100 blogs, and then to 200, and was occupying hours of my time each week. When I got separate emails from Dean Peters in the US and Rachel Cunliffe in New Zealand, with ideas for turning the list into a major tool of Christian ministry, it seemed an excellent opportunity to step aside, to allow me to get on with what I really enjoy - writing.

 

Thus was born blogs4God, something unique, and something in which all Christians should take pride.

 

Will it achieve much? Some great stuff is being written by Christian bloggers, but how much is it being read? For example, last week I expressed my view that Amy Wellborn’s In Between Naps is “the very model of a Christian blog” and that a particular posting on Mark Horne’s Presbytermark was “classic stuff that deserves far wider distribution than just his blog”. Yet how many of the millions of Christians – or non-Christians – who surf the net are even aware of these blogs, let alone reading them?

 

I think that’s why we need blogs4God.

 

* On Friday I’ll give some views on where Christian blogging might be heading.