Why Blog? A Street-Preacher’s Answer

You should always know the reason why it is that you are doing whatever it is that you are doing.

First reason (the pragmatic one): whatever you are doing, there will come a point when you are tempted to give up. Knowing why you do what you do will help you overcome that temptation, as this wise Christian blogger points out.

Second reason (the theological one): It is written, Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction. Which in more contemporary lingo could be translated thus: Doing the popular thing is often a bad idea.

But in spite of its popularity, perhaps to blog is not to necessarily mark oneself with the number of the beast and immediately consign oneself to hell. Indeed, it might even be possible to argue that a Christian not only can, but in some cases should, blog.

We shall not concern ourselves here with the general question. Instead we merely content ourselves with the specific question: ‘why am I blogging?’ There are plenty of people on the internet that will tell you the commercial possibilities that blogging can create. But I’m a street-preacher, not a salesman. So — why?

Well, here are my five reasons:

1. OBEDIENCE
‘Whereupon I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision’

I didn’t start street-preaching for the money. I did it because of that still, small inner voice that although silent is more forceful than a hurricane, an earthquake or a flash fire. I did it because I knew I had to. I had been taken captive by the conviction that I had to begin to try communicating the message of Jesus in a way that would captivate imaginations. Just as my own imagination had been taken captive. So I started going out into the streets of Cambridge with a jar of mustard seeds. Offering people a mustard seed. And when they asked why I was giving away mustard seeds then we could talk — about faith as small as a mustard seed, about the seed of the word of God, about the seed that fell into the ground and died that it might produce much grain.

Not quite three years after my first trembling mustard-laden step onto Market Square, the itch to declare the unimaginable goodness of Jesus refuses to go away. On the contrary, I feel that same silent voice encouraging me to continue my occasionally unusual attempts to communicate the gospel. And in particular, to begin blogging with intentionality and consistency. A few days ago, this peculiar paraphrase of Joshua 1:9 popped into my head: Have I not commanded you to blog? Therefore be strong and very courageous. Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed — for the LORD God is with you, wherever you go

Obedience to the command of God should be a sufficient reason in itself to do anything. So the rest of my reasons should be read more as my attempt to answer the perenial question, Is That Really You God?, and persuade myself that this blogging thing can be done to the glory of God.

2. AMPLIFICATION
A blog is ‘the single most powerful platform on the internet for the individual, the professional, and the thought-leader.’

Your average English shopper isn’t too fond of street-preachers. Even less street-preachers who think it necessary to use a megaphone to amplify their message. And this is to put it mildly.

Yet still I — and I’m not the only one — continue to go out into the streets and speak with as much volume as I can muster of the lovingkindness of the living God. Because people need to know! And the need is urgent enough to justify a little cultural impropriety. One soul saved from an eternity of hell-ish misery surely outweighs a hundred who feel that being reminded of the reality of a holy God was an uncalled-for interruption of their afternoon’s shopping.

Such an argument offers a somewhat simplistic defense of volume on the basis that it increases the reach of the message. Whether or not the argument works depends on the effectiveness of the message not being nullified by the offense of the volume. But that is a discussion for elsewhere.

For now, suffice to say that the internet amplifies the potential reach of a message in a way that nothing before in history could even begin to do.

And thus I blog: for I have a message to share, and I cannot be silent.

3. CONNECTION
‘Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon…’

Making friends and preaching on a street corner might seem like two quite unrelated activities.

But when street-preaching, what eventually happens is that someone will come over to listen to what I’m saying. When they do, then I stop preaching at full volume to the whole passing world, and start talking specifically to the person who has kindly stopped to listen to what I have to say. And after a few minutes conversation, they often say something like this: “You seem like a very reasonable person — at least for a street-preacher”. So I suggest that we keep in contact. And so they give me their email address, and we continue discussing whatever questions of faith might come up. But eventually there always tends to come a point when one of us fails to reply to the other’s email, and the conversation dies.

This blog will hopefully act both as catalyst and container for more of such conversations, and make it easier to overcome that .

As well as making it possible for the many people that I know from my wanderings across the globe to have some idea of what thoughts are going through my mind.

4. TRANSPARENCY
‘What is whispered in secret, proclaim from the rooftops!’

The awkward thing about the internet is that everything that you post can be seen by everyone. Everyone in the world: concerned parents and prospective employers, Indian immigration officials and American freelance journalists, impolite fundamentalists and intolerant secularists. Everyone.

But I am very grateful for the necessary challenge presented by that fact. Because for a long time — all my life! — I have stood with one foot in an evangelical missionary culture and the other foot in the predominantly secular culture of the contemporary English-speaking world. And I’m not sure I’ve ever quite managed to overcome the challenge of communicating in a way which makes sense to both cultures — which probably explains why so many of my non-Christian friends from university find me somewhat peculiar.

My prayer for this blog is that it will be a place where those people who don’t share my passion for Jesus are at least able to see the underlying logic of why I do, think and feel what I do.

5. EXAMPLE
‘Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ’

If these reasons are valid in justifying my trying my hand at blogging, then they also apply to other people I know. I want to see a growing gathering of voices together declaring the glorious gospel of Jesus. Not through wisdom of words, not through some much-planned coordinated effort, but simply through the voices of our testimonies rising up in unstoppable harmony. Like a hallelujah flashmob.

For we are the light of the world! We are a city on a hill! And if we remain silent then the rocks will have to cry out!

My hope is that, somehow, my fumbling attempts to be a witness for Jesus in the formless void of cyberspace will inspire others to do the same. Even as I myself have been inspired by others — Phil, Nic, Tina, Bec, Nik — who are already doing so.

_______________

So, I’ve said my bit. Now it’s your turn: Why do you blog? Or if you don’t, why not?

A New Beginning

The old is gone, the new is come.

My ambition is to become a brilliant communicator. I want to learn how to use the multitude of tools the twenty-first century gives us to communicate on a scale that never before could have been imagined, without losing the essential humanity and intimacy of one-on-one conversation. I want to use the internet to connect with people I never would have had the chance to interact with face-to-face, and also to reconnect with people face-to-face who I have once known but since lost touch with.

To this end, I intend to begin blogging here before the end of the month. I will begin by considering the question ‘Why’ as it pertains to the activity here proposed. I intend to blog at least weekly. I refrain from promising more because I want this to be sustainable: I want to have at least fifty posts up here by February 2013, I want to have at least one hundred by 2014.

I want this blog to be a place where questions are asked and answers are honestly attempted. I want this to be a place where curiousity is free to bloom. For to be creative is to be curious, and to be human is to be creative because made in the image of a creative God. As just given away, this blog will include unashamed referencing of the Biblical text, for this is how my mind has been trained. But I hope that this will be a place where the pagan and the atheist feel able to come and offer comment and critique of my attempts to understand the world.

Anyway. Here we go. The blog of a mere human.