This blog has been doing its thing for 10 years now.
I never thought when I started that I’d still be writing after all this time… but it has been a passion, an obsession at times, a place to think out loud and now an ‘old friend who I visit occasionally’.
The blog began when we left Lesmurdie Baptist to plant a new missional community in Butler. I actually started out on blogger with www.backyardmissionaries.blogspot.com as the site (click on the image above to see it as it looked in 2003), but later moved to a free site at wordpress before getting my own domain. Many thanks to an old friend (who I am yet to meet in person) Justin Baeder who has overseen all of this since 2003 and who bales me out when I manage to ‘delete the internet’.
The original blog was a way of staying in touch with the people we left behind and also a way of grappling with the questions of church and mission that were pretty hot at the time. I’m not sure anyone from our home church ever read it, but it certainly became a hot forum for discussion of all things ‘mission and church’.
It was inspired initially by my long time mate Tallskinnykiwi (who has just re-jigged his own online efforts) and by Darren Rouse, who at that time was church planting with Living Room in Victoria. To say Darren figured blogging out more than the rest of us would be an understatement… There was money to be made in the earlier days of blogging and Darren figured out that one pretty quickly!
The blog led to lots of online connections and plenty of online arguments. I remember flying to Melbourne once and staying with Phil & Dan McCredden authors of ‘Signposts’, another popular blog of the era. We had never met in person so that was a novel experience. Fortunately I discovered before arriving that ‘Dan’ was ‘Danielle’ and a woman… as in the absence of any images I imagined two blokes writing Signposts… The original ‘Signposts’ has been deleted but there is still a site at that domain.
‘Backyard’ once rated very highly as an Aussie Christian blog – and (depending on whose stats you believe) had around 2000 hits a day. But it also became an obsession and something of an ego trip. I think it was 2006 when I sensed God asking me to stop blogging for a while, or maybe permanently. It was a big call and not something I’d expect anyone to understand unless they get a kick out of writing and online interactions.
I committed to stop blogging indefinitely, or until God gave me a green light to get back into it again.
it was after about 6 months that I sensed God saying ‘ok – blog again if you want to…’ I did, but it has never been with the same sense of obsession (I used to post 2-5 times a day…) My readership had dropped to around 100 a day, the whole ’emerging church conversation’ had lost steam and unless I intended to write consistently about issues like homosexuality I was unlikely to pull a crowd again.
More recently my blogging efforts have been sporadic at best and non-existent at worst. I’ve thought about wrapping it up, but I like a place to come and spruik when I have one of those rare moments of inspiration.
What I do have here though is 10 years of my life documented and expressed, something I hope might be of value and interest to my kids at some point. They now have their own blogs which we use for creative writing. Sam and Ellie both enjoy writing, and have managed to rack up a few posts already. So I’m thinking they may have fun trolling the archives some day and laughing at what their old man thought was so important.
If there was one post that started a fire more than any other then it would be this one and it still ranks no 1 in Google if you search for ‘incarnational v attractional’. Unfortunately all of the original comments got deleted in a blog transfer so the fire of the conversation isn’t there any longer… maybe that’s a good thing…
If I’ve learnt anything then it would be not to write on a controversial topic once you’re had two glasses of red… or three… I do still write the odd provocative piece and I do occasionally like to ‘poke the bear’, but I’m also aware that I don’t have time to really engage here like I used to.
Anyway on that note let me finish with a quote that kinda captures the original flavour of backyardmissionary
‘Challenging the church is like goading a rhino. Pissing it off is the easy part. Getting it to change direction once its charging… well that’s a different matter entirely.’
Thanks for sharing the journey with me!