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The State of the God Blogging Community?

17 October, 2005 2:33 PM

A number of fellow bloggers have emailed me this past couple of weeks to ask if I'm going to the God Blog conference.

To be honest I didn't really consider it for a couple of reasons - Firstly it's been a question of Expense Distance and Time - I'm not critiquing the conference - it has to be held somewhere but wherever it is the distance makes it hard for some bloggers. For me I couldn't justify the expense or time away from other priorities to go.

Secondly I have been pondering the question 'Am I a 'God Blogger?'

This blog (LivingRoom) has become less of a focus for me of late for many reasons including a lack of time, many other competing projects needing time, a maturing of the LivingRoom community (we're probably not in such a phase of learning/development now so there is less to share) and (if I'm honest) a frustration with where I saw the 'God Blog' community as going.

I don't want to write this as an attack upon those who identify themselves as God Bloggers - but after a couple of years of heavy participation in the God Blog scene I began to grow increasingly frustrated with it. I met many wonderful Christian bloggers along the way and learned a lot about blogging, faith and relationships through it - but I also saw a lot that concerned me including:

- attack - I saw some of the most vicious and personal attacks on people that I've ever experienced in online forums. Having spent the last year blogging in the wider blogging community I can honestly say that while there is bickering across the whole blogosphere - that what I saw in the 'Christian blogging community' was often at the more vicious end of the spectrum. At times (and especially in the first year) I found myself being drawn into this negativity at times (something I'm not proud of) and at times found the God Blog community took more life than it gave.

- insular focus - Something that I wrote about many times on this blog was the insular nature of the 'God Blog Community'. I saw some amazing and rich discussion on many occasions (I don't want to paint it as all bad - it wasn't by any means) yet I saw a distinct lack of Christian bloggers engaging with the wider blogging community. I think I used the term 'holy huddle' on many occasions in my critique of the Christian blogging community - on reflection I'm not sure if my critique was completely fair. I do see the need for 'holy huddles' from time to time - I think it's a biblical thing to gather with fellow believers for worship, learning and encouragement - however I also see a call for action/engagement/mission/justice. These were things that I felt a distinct lack of of within the Christian blogging community.

At LivingRoom we have three core values/journeys - inner journey (worship, prayer - spiritual formation), outer journey (mission, justice, service) and together journey (community, fellowship etc). If I was to 'review' the God Blog community as it stood a year ago I would have rated it pretty highly on the 'inner' and 'together' journeys (although as I've written above there was also a lot of disunity) but I would have been forced to rate it pretty low on the 'outer' journey.

It was this area of lacking that was probably largely the reason that I've slowly withdrawn from active participation in the 'God Blog' community and an increased involvement in the wider blogging world.

I have been amazed by what I've found as I've undergone this transition. I don't wish to discuss all of these lessons and experiences here in a public forum (because much of it has to do with individuals who I have had opportunity to build wonderful and personal relationships with) however I will say that in the past 12 months of blogging outside of (or less connected with) 'God Blog' circles I've found and experienced God working in some pretty profound ways. I've also seen God's invitation to join him in his work both in the lives of individuals but also on a larger scale.

I'm also really encouraged to see quite a few Christian bloggers exploring similar things - some of whom have in the past (and even continue) to participate in 'God Blogging' but many of who have widened their focus.

I'm not sure this has been one of my more articulate posts - I've been considering writing it for months but have hesitated for fear of it being seen as a critique - but I guess I'm interested to see if anyone else has been pondering any of these things. Perhaps the God Blogging community has changed in the last 12 months since I've pulled back - I hope it has - but I'd be keen to hear of how others view the health of the God blogging community? Where is it strong, where is it in need of growth and how has it been changing and growing?

Comments

Page:

I won't be using the term god-blog anymore, it got co-opted by some sincere American theologians and philosphers and political pundiits that honestly believe they can unite blogger to affect culture.
That's their choice, I can't in good conscience use the term any longer.
I wish them well.

Bene Diction » 17 October, 2005 2:58 PM

Good and honest post Darren. Thanks. Your comments seem apt for many dimensions of the 'Christian world' at the moment (not just blogs) which could be depressing. But when I look under the surface there are heaps of wonderful, faithful expressions of Christian servanthood going on and I have learned to draw deeply from them. They are just being quiet about it! It seems to me that the consumerist nature driving much of Christianity at the moment means that once something is big enough to be 'organised' into a conference or event or book it often risks having lost what it was origionally about. Alan Roxburgh talks about our need to talk a lot less about the church and listen and engage a lot more with the Gospel and the culture. He has a lot of wisdom. Stay close to 'true north'. Andrew.

Andrew » 17 October, 2005 3:31 PM

No, it isn't better, it's a bit worse because the blogosphere has grown a wee bit. Not as much in the churched section as others, but a bit.
It's worse because we have a new crop of bloggers wanting to organize everyone else.
Again, like you, I've gotten involved in other communites and recently sticking my nose into the God-BlogCon thing just got me a black eye.

There are so many wonderful bloggers of faith that don't make a noise or fuss, or try to be mythical "A" listers that aren't tripping over their egos or trying to win. They amaze me and teach me more than I dream possible.

But as we get this top heavy GodBlog concept - it's not better, it's like it was about 3 years ago, a few making a lot of noise and flying off if bloggers don't fall into line. Politics comes first, theology is a battle to be won.
Nothing new about it, this gets so circular.

I noticed how many many faith bloggers didn't say a word about this convention.
It wasn't because they didn't know about it.
It's because they are about their Father's business also, and it isn't going to be top down wanna be leaders dictating for them or to them.
And while that level of healthiness has to be looked for, it is there, and there is hope.

Bene D » 17 October, 2005 5:25 PM

i soooooooo hear where you are coming from. love that take.

erickeck » 17 October, 2005 9:20 PM

My own feeling is that there isn't one 'God blogging' (we must drop that term) community. For instance the GodBlogCon world is on a bit of another planet when compared with the UK Greenbelt festival blogging community. I suspect neither really knows the other exists.

Dave » 17 October, 2005 9:53 PM

You said:

"however I also see a call for action/engagement/mission/justice."

"but I would have been forced to rate it pretty low on the 'outer' journey."

I would agree. Most discussions (not all) turn into a (near) endless debate over ideas and concepts. But what I rarely see online, or in the churches I've visited and/or befriended there simply appears no hunger for the 'outer' journey. No care for it - no taste for it.

I am not judging them. No, my feelings are more sadness and confusion.

God knows, and I now know, that I have no more time or energy to debate concepts or ideas. Just living in the Kingdom and facing Matthew 5-7 is enough for me to handle in Christ.

Steve » 17 October, 2005 10:31 PM

Darren, must say I agree with you about the insularity, especially within networks that claim to be more missional. Truely missional blogging by its nature should engage non-Christians

Matt Stone » 18 October, 2005 2:56 AM

I don't think that this was critical at all. I think that you are just trying to be honest and sincere. Nothing inherently wrong with that.

mattharmless » 18 October, 2005 1:12 PM

This is the first post I have visited in over 6 months (I am supposed to be doing an assignment at the moment). I found the 'God Blog' scene and was really interested untill I also saw violent attacks on people because their opinion differed. To be honest, it drove me away. This was great to read. Thanks.

George » 18 October, 2005 9:12 PM

Good post. I have never included myself in the God Blogging scene. Recently I have included more of my personal journey with God on my weblog, I've been a little frustrated with my own insular posting, but with little time for my weblog's upkeep, I have to prioritize to the original purpose of 'sharing my day to day life with family'. Fantastically i have realised that much of what I see as insular is actually me sharing my inner journey and, therefore, as my weblog is not a 'GodBlog' many non-Christian (and Christian) friends have been challenged. I was quite encouraged to see my inner journey effecting the outer and together journeys, at a time when I was about to quit the weblog in fear of naval gasing.

I don't really know anything about the God Blogging scene to give any further opinion.

matt » 19 October, 2005 1:29 AM

Great post Darren, and yeah, I agree with all that.

However, I would say that God-blogging still has it's place. I don't have my own blog, but am pretty active in discussions on other people's blogs, and I've met amazing people (in real life!) by doing this. I'm not active on anything other than God-blogs, mainly because I don't have time. I don't feel a need to justify that, as I see blogs as part of my 'inner journey' and 'together journey' - the outer journey takes place elsewhere and in other ways (bar my activity on one fashion-related forum, which has led to some interesting discussion!)

I think that the means by which we take the inner journey, outer journey and together journey can be different, but it's certainly important to retain a balance - and if one spends so much time on God blogs that the outer journey is neglected, then it's time to reconsider things.

bec » 19 October, 2005 1:48 PM

fascinating discussion. thanks so much for your rational openmindedness and true servanthood.

Laura » 20 October, 2005 10:04 PM

Darren,

when you are earning US$15,000 per month from your blog it is drawing a bit of a long bow to claim you can't afford a trip to the states which would cost a maximum of US$3,000. The trip of course would be completely tax deductable.

GreenMan » 21 October, 2005 4:53 PM

fair point Greenman. Perhaps I should have worded it that I'm not sure I could justify spending the money on it. I definately can't afford the time at present.

Darren » 21 October, 2005 5:12 PM

What would your attitude be if you changed the word "God" to "Mission". That is, would you be interested in a Mission-Blog conference?

What if it were a business-blog conference?

Not trying to be a pain (I wouldn't go either) but I'm wondering what it is we are actually disctancing ourselves from? And why....

Matt Glover » 24 October, 2005 10:43 PM

Thank you for your post: I greatly appreciate your honesty and willingness to be transparent.

I have a question: how can a "God-blogger" engage folks outside of the godblog realm? From what I've read about blogs, it's best to somewhat stick to a theme or a topic: if too many things are covered, folks can't track or don't want to track. When I had a baby and wanted to write about that whole experience, I found myself in a predicament because many readers would be uncomfortable reading about the "gory details" that is the first couple months of being a mom. But what if I had some "non-Mom" stuff in there that I didn't want them to overlook?

How does one not divide themselves up into multiple blogs of a single subject? Or is that what has to happen? It seems like there should be another way . . .

Aj » 25 October, 2005 2:26 AM

Thank you for your post: I greatly appreciate your honesty and willingness to be transparent.

I have a question: how can a "God-blogger" engage folks outside of the godblog realm? From what I've read about blogs, it's best to somewhat stick to a theme or a topic: if too many things are covered, folks can't track or don't want to track. When I had a baby and wanted to write about that whole experience, I found myself in a predicament because many readers would be uncomfortable reading about the "gory details" that is the first couple months of being a mom. But what if I had some "non-Mom" stuff in there that I didn't want them to overlook?

How does one not divide themselves up into multiple blogs of a single subject? Or is that what has to happen? It seems like there should be another way . . .

Aj » 25 October, 2005 2:28 AM

Yeah totally see where you're coming from.

I actually disagree with what you said Matt Stone. I think there's a difference between missional blogging and blogging about mission, both have their place.

Some people see their blogs as missional things, I don't, and don't really aim my blog to be read by non-Christians, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Although i do appreciate what you're trying to do with your blog, in terms of making it a missional thing etc.

Digger » 27 October, 2005 1:02 AM

Yeah, I appreciate the difference between missional blogging and blogging about mission. Only one of mine is intentionally missional by the way and that's not the one that most Christians are linking to (which is just the way I like it).

But my frustration is two-fold.

Firstly, if there were lots of example of both styles of blogs I'd have nothing to complain about, but as it stands the contemporary situation is very lop-sided.

Secondly, my comments here eminate from a wider frustration that the emerging church ID has become so encompassing that it now seems to incorporate anyone whos attended a conference and grown a goatee as Brian McLaren put it recently. Sadly there's a lot of fluffiness and I don't think the movement is half as missional as imagines itself to be. To be blunt I find all our 'emerging' language to be highly insular - who uses it outside the movement anyway?

I recognise people are doing a lot of good work that needs to be celebrated but we are only in the shallows of the post-modern sea. I don't see enough deep sea diving.

Matt Stone » 3 November, 2005 11:46 PM

not sure if i'm a god blogger or not, but i would say that i am interested in articulating missional learning - so that is unlikley to be of much interest to my friends who aren't christians.

i think its fine to write for a specific audience however narrow or wide that may be

if the question is one of whether we are salt and light in the world then that is a different issue - but i don't think we need to be overly concerned about what communties develop within blogdom

hamo » 6 November, 2005 12:03 AM

One thing I have learned in blogland since last Jan when I began is that we, as Christians, tend twards doing things in blogworld just as we do anywhere else. It becomes "all about us". We close ourselves off in our own little worlds and forget about everyone else. We can easily get off into debateland that, you are right, can sometimes get worse than anywhere else. I have been sucked in too. I think it is that we are hitting on others passions and convictions that makes it so vicious. You have convicted me here that I tend to do that as well. I do purposefully spend much time talking to others outside of God Blogging and I have built many lasting friendships within my GodBlog circles, but you are right, just as the church has, we have lost our focus--I am personally ashamed! Blessings to you.

Teresa » 8 November, 2005 5:04 AM

And I agree with that last point. I dont call myself a god blogger. but most people know I am a follower of God. I got turned off God bloggers by all the bitching and have since stuck with politics and social issues. In terms of the old god blogging scene, you are one of the few bloggers i visit on occasion....

I appreciate the god bloggers who dont bitch, and have a wider appeal

dave » 13 November, 2005 8:09 PM

Interesting and informative blog or blogs Darren. Northern suburbs of Melboune if I'm correct. We should have a coffee one day. We may have passed each other in the street one day not so long ago. Love to have a chat.
Russell.

Russell » 7 July, 2006 4:56 PM

Interesting and informative blog or blogs Darren. Northern suburbs of Melboune if I'm correct. We should have a coffee one day. We may have passed each other in the street one day not so long ago. Love to have a chat.
Russell.

Russell » 7 July, 2006 4:57 PM

Wow!

This post is about everything I have been feeling but could not get into words. My blog has been evolving over the past few months mainly because of the attack portion of this subject.

I think the God-Blog scene is polarizing much like Christianity has in general over the past 2000 years. Just look at the different religions who claim to be Christian. Unfortunately I am beginning to parallel some of the critic types with some religious affiliations and doctrines. My concern with this relative to non-Christians is that they might become even more confused about Christianity. Way too many blogs run by self professing Christians are bashing others in the name of holding each other accountable. I have fallen into it from time to time and I have found myself very convicted over it. I have tried to tidy up my own blog and I hope others follow suite.

I find the concept of ministering to the Internet public at large as a very difficult idea to get my head wrapped around. I guess I am trying to do this in my own little way with my Podcast readings of my favorite paraphrase of the Bible that is published on iTunes. I am averaging well over 5000 hits per month on the iTunes feed so at least it is getting to someone. My hope is that this podcast will spark an interest in the Bible for non-Christians and that they will find God from there.

I do get emails and comments once in a while asking my opinion of something because I am pretty up-front about my faith. I have a hard time with this as well. How do you really know when you are being asked a sincere question from and non-Christian on the Internet?

Hank Osborne » 26 August, 2006 4:35 AM

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