Monday, June 04, 2007

A Year In the Blogosphere

June 1st marked my one year anniversary as a blogger. The year really flew by and it's been a lot of fun! Honestly, blogging has been a lot more fun than I thought it would be.

The first time someone mentioned a "blog" to me, my mind went to "The Blob". Some of you will recognize that old movie. So, I first received the idea of "blogging" with all the interest and flare of a '50s black-and-white horror movie. Not a great start.

My second thought was: "I don't really have time to blog. Why would anyone do that anyway? And who are these people who blog?" Honestly, my nose was a bit upturned.

Then one day my wife suggested I blog. Okay... since it was my wife I thought I'd better be less proud and disdainful than when I first heard of blogging. I'd better at lease feign interest. It's my wife after all. When she kept suggesting it over a couple of weeks, and mentioned that there were some bloggers she read regularly, including some people from Canada, I thought I'd better also add this thing to my list of areas in which to demonstrate some masculine headship, discernment and wisdom :-)

Around that time, there was a lot of chatter about some churches who were doing interesting things where church membership and baptism were concerned. The best place, it turned out, to learn about these developments was the blogosphere! All of a sudden, I was reading things from the horse's mouth and the many critiques/supports offered. It was better than CNN!

I wanted to join the discussion, but the main site I wanted to comment on required people to have a blog to comment. With real hesitation and frustration, I went through the three easy blogger steps and presto! I was in the blogosphere. That was June 1, 2006. PureChurch was born... thanks to my wife's encouragement and a little controversy.

And in the last year, here are a few things I've learned and gained from regularly blogging and from those who blog.

1. A bit more sanctification. Boy, there's nothing like hitting "publish post" after writing some screed or critique or essay on some position and anticipating the response of others and the potential effect on someone to sanctify me a bit. The blogosphere is some time exhibit A for the truth of James 3:6--"And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell." And I'm ashamed of comments that I've made that prove this. Blogging has been sanctifying in speech.

2. A lot more friends. I'm one of those who envisioned this blog thing as essentially another chat room for lonely types... Christians, yes, but lonely and in need of a real hobby. So, now, I'm either one of the lonely chat room types or, more likely the case, I've been again judgmental and flat wrong. I can't praise and thank God enough for the many people He's blessed me to meet in the last year. You may not know this... but it's lonely being African American and Reformed and living in the Caribbean! So, friendships with Carter (who is, in my opinion, the most gracious and generous blogger out there and the godfather of African American bloggers), Lance, Eric and Wyeth and others are precious. And there are other friends all over the place. Some of them are now pastoring church plants in areas I care a lot about, others are engaging, educating, and entertaining me on Canadian culture (which is a big help because there are a lot of Canadian members at the church!), others are across the pond, some have sharpened my thinking about pastoral ministry, still others have challenged my use of typically political language in describing the gospel. All I count as new friends and men I pray and thank God for often. The world has gotten a lot smaller and seemingly closer for me through blogging.

3. It would be impossible to list all I've learned from fellow bloggers. There has been the up-to-the-minute events around the Christian world. Justin Taylor's blog is essentially my front page for evangelical news. Several sisters (here and here and here) have made me more aware of the godly women out there and how I can minister more effectively to them here in the church. Nathan Finn, though he's at the end of the line, has been a church history teacher and SBC pundit for me. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that the blogosphere has been a classroom of sorts and I'm thankful for those who have been my teachers.

4. Christ is all! That's the conclusion for me. After reading over hundreds of pages and thousands of lines, after writing my share, upon reflection, at its best, blogging reminds me that Christ is All! He is the One who unites me with so many other of His people across continents and time zones and cultures and educational levels and economic standings and every other natural boundary. I'm reminded by the blogosphere that Christ unites us to Himself as one new man and unites us to each other. When I've stumbled or misspoken, when others have been the same, I've lost count of the number of responses and emails and corrections and rebukes and encouragements that keep me and others coming to the cross of Christ, clinging to Him, rejoicing in Him, confessing and receiving yet more grace, growing in godliness, deepening our affections for the Savior... and in the end, becoming more like Him. I'm thankful to the Lord for all the small and wonderful ways He's surprised me with Himself through this interesting thing called a "blog."

It's a been a great year!


Pastor Lance said...

Happy Anniversary big guy!

Lord willing I'll see you in Chitown later this month.

The Lord's Peace

Brother Hank said...

Congratulations TA! It's been a blast reading your blog, and good Lord willing, I look forward to many more years where this came from...!

Grace and Peace

Jeff Fuller said...

I was introduced to your blog a few months ago when I read and commented on some posts you made regarding Christians and Tipping. I digress, I still only give 3 dollars regardless of how much the meal costs. Ha!

Now I'm regular reader. I really appreciate your guidance on discussing race. Your number one point - don't talk about it - has been vital to the success of my weekly pastoral ministry at the county jail! While the topic of race and ethnicity sometimes pokes its head out in an expositional sermon, NOT talking about it outside the text of Scripture has helped me forge a bond with these men.

Considering 13 years ago before my regeneration and conversion, I was an active neo-nazi skinhead... I thank God that you helped me further put aside the issue of race and make preaching the gospel the primacy of my ministy.

Carolyn McCulley said...

Congratulations, Thabiti! I am a regular reader of your blog, too. Thanks for your kindness in mentioning my blog as a useful resource. I sure hope those manicure tips have proven to be helpful to you. ;) Can't wait to see you at T4G next year--it's exciting to see how the Lord is using you to build His kingdom.

FellowElder said...

The tips on manicures have definitely been helpful! How do you think I figured out I should gather the kids for some time with dad and send the wife to "Tips N Toes" for a little pampering?! :-)

It'll be a joy, Lord willing, to see you all in Louisville. And, actually, I hope to make the DC area in September and would love to get up to Gaithersburg.

Praying the Lord's continuing power and peace in your life,

Bill Reichart said...

Congrats, I am glad you're out there, your blog has been a blessing. Keep it up!
bill from ProvocativeChurch

wwdunc said...

Happy Anniversary! Your blog has truly been edifying to me, and I am honored to be listed as one of your blogging friends. I look forward to meeting you face-to-face, and sitting under your ministry when you come to Lake County, IL (my home turf) later this month. Blessings to you!

Wyeth Duncan

Nathan Finn said...

You blog is a class act. Thanks for being such a godly role model to so many other bloggers (and pastors). Congrats on your year in the blogosphere.


ModestMoe said...

Congratulations on successfully making it to your first one year anniversary! I hope your next year is just as wonderful as the last one has been. :-)

After spending three months in Hungary a couple years ago a couple friends I'd met while there made me get a blog. I wasn't to thrilled with the idea at first. It seemed like blogging was, as you said, for lonely people who need to get a life, or people who are writing personal diaries and publishing them online, which just sounded ridiculous. After a bit of coxing, though, I finally walked through the door into the blogosphere, and it's been great. It's a funny community, but I love it!


Jenn said...

Congratulations. I am grateful you went ahead and started a blog when you did. Thank you for being a tool to glorify God on the net. Wow, who knew that we'd be able to say that - glorifying God by way of the world wide web! Thank you, brother.

Grace and peace,