6 or 42? The Blogiversary Confessions of a Christian Gadfly

kinnon —  February 24, 2011 — 36 Comments

Dani on Couch Speech Bubble

Six years. Or perhaps that should be 42 years. At least from a dog’s perspective. With all that has happened in my life, the life of my family and our glocal existence – six years as a temporal description hardly does this passage of time justice.

Yet. In the world of Kronos, six years ago yesterday, this blog launched. (Yes this is belated – which fits with what was inferred previously about my state of mind.) We had moved to another city, five months prior (September 2004) − 2,072km from our Toronto home. (1,287.5 miles for my metric-challenged American friends.) Imbi and I had been offered the positions of Co-Directors of Communication at a mega-church and we had accepted. (We had been consulting with this church when we were enticed to move.)

I named the blog “achievable ends”. Partially a pragmatic alphabetical decision in the event that other blogs might decide to add it to their blog lists. As well, I honestly thought I’d be able to point readers at ends that were achievable. (So how did that work for you?)

By early 2005, I’d been following blogs for at least three years. People like Kathy Sierra and Doc Searls were Generous Web practitioners in blogdom. Anecdotal evidence suggested blogs were an effective way to communicate ideas in the glocal world of the interwebs. With the “achievable ends” foray into blogdom, I hoped to convince the senior leader we worked with that blogging would be a worthwhile endeavour for them. (And since I did most of the writing that appeared under that person’s byline, this blog was effectively a test-run, as it were.)

Six weeks after this blog began, we were no longer Co-Directors of anything at the church. In fact, we were informed that we were no longer welcome on the church property. (The blog played no role in that chief executive decision.)

And the next stage in our family’s life journey began.

We retraced the 2,072 kilometres back to Toronto. I was profoundly depressed – though I would not acknowledge that for a couple of years. The blog became my therapy as I began to question the church world we’d been a part of for too many years.

Bill balloon

As a result of this “church experience” Imbi and I had to restart our production business – after telling our clients less than a year before that we were making a dramatic change in our lives and going to work for a church.

Knowing the restart would take time, Imbi took advantage of available hours and began to work on her Masters in Theological Studies at the University of Toronto’s Wycliffe College. Her oft-mentioned documentary on Church Leadership for the 21st Century came out of her studies. (And it is not finished because of me – the editing load is huge – more on that in another post.)

The blog initially covered many things I was passionate about – media technology, production, leadership and yes, the church.

My two posts in the fall of ’05 and beginning of '06 on Killer Ideas vs Idea Killers will give you a sense of how my thoughts on leadership were developing. (I must note that much of the content of this blog is a direct result of conversations with Imbi – and the things we both read. Liam, Rylan and Kaili – the next-gen Kinnons – have also provoked much.)

In early 2006, my warped sense of humour was in evidence with a viral post I wrote, Microsoft Abandons PowerPoint. It was the direct result of a church service experience where PowerPoint assaulted the eyeballs of those gathered.

2006 was a year of theological change for me. Sixteen hours after returning home from a six week teaching trip to Kenya, Imbi and I were on our way to Boise, Idaho to provide production services for an Allelon Missional Church conference. In spite of having known Alan Roxburgh for 20 years, the “missional conversation” was not even on our radar. Pat Keifert, Craig Van Gelder, Mark Priddy (the first actual missional practitioner I ever met) and others (including Roxburgh, of course) changed that.

By that fall, I was working half-time with Allelon. And the focus of this humble corner of the pushed-pixel universe was firmly the church and it’s call to a mission-shaped reality.

One of the richest benefits of blogging has been the people I’ve met – both virtually and in 3D. Dave Fitch is one of these gems. His first book, The Great Giveaway further developed my changing theological understanding. We began to talk via our blogs and then I arranged to meet him (and interview him) when he was in Toronto in late March of 2007.

That interview turned into a four hour conversation about the Western church. And that conversation informed by others with bloggers like John Frye, Darryl Dash, Jamie Arpin-Ricci and Brent Toderash aka Brother Maynard, became the viral post, The People Formerly Known as the Congregation. It was a post that triggered many others. Many years later, it is still eliciting responses.

And that post is probably the most responsible for creating the group of friends known as the Missional Tribe 'Gators – Peggy, Linda, Sonja, Brad, Brent, Rick et moi. True friends for this journey. (And there are rumblings that we may launch a new MT. Stay tuned.)

Michael spencer

However, of all the fellow bloggers who have influenced me, the one who had the greatest impact was Michael Spencer – and it hurts to write “had” and “was”.

I can’t easily pinpoint when Michael and I became friends but I can tell you that that friendship had a profound impact on me. Yes, Michael’s links to a number of my posts drove much blog traffic to what has become kinnon.tv. But what I truly appreciated were our email conversations. When I called the iMonk my iPastor, I wasn’t kidding.

Michael’s creative output was staggering. His writing at the InternetMonk could and should fill many books. His prophetic voice of one calling out in the post-evangelical wilderness drove many people crazy – but was fresh cool water to those of us parched in the midst of the Western evangelical circus.

Michael loved to start conversations – and willingly engaged in them deeply. The rowdy virtual pub known as the Boar’s Head Tavern was evidence of Michael’s desire for and encouragement of great conversation.

One of the BHT fellows, Bob Myers wrote this recently,

…there’s just no one on the web or leading in Christian circles like our beloved Internet Monk, Michael Spencer. He was willing to look at all angles of questions, had a healthy doubt of all the stuff Christians like and flock to, and yet was generous and gracious and kind even to those who were not any of those things.

He also could stir up a hornet’s nest of response, and much of it very, very, constructive. And of course, in the midst of it, sometimes it made me lose my drink laughing, snorting it out of my nose right in the midst of serious theological banter.All from a Kentucky school teacher. God sure placed him in an unusual ministry to make such a splash on the internet.

Anyways, I miss him a lot, as I know everyone in here does. I’m glad he left behind great writings, but what we miss is him alive and stirring us all up, questioning stuff, passionately confronting us with honesty that came from taking his mask off and by doing so removing ours too.

I could not express the sense of loss any better than Bob.

Michael provoked good and important conversation. Listen to Michael in this clip from Drew Marshall’s show that includes Darryl Dash and me. He’s brilliant and funny. (And yes, I wish I’d spoken half as much – with Michael filling the thus provided space.) Go back and listen to Michael’s podcasts . (And no, I don’t’ share Michael’s love of baseball but all the other content is very, very good.)

I had lunch with Darryl Dash recently and he asked me whether Michael’s illness and death had directly impacted my writing. The answer was and is yes. As much as I can intellectually understand that in a fallen world, as a consequence of that fall, millions get sick and die. Emotionally I struggle with the reality that God neither healed Michael nor prevented the illness in the first place. (I do not believe that it was part of God’s plan from the beginning of time Michael would get sick and die at age 53.)

Blogging has not been anywhere near as enjoyable as it was with Michael’s thoughts and provocations.

But Michael’s writing still impacts me. In his book, Mere Churchianity, he writes this;

The Holy Spirit transforms individuals into Jesus-followers, but Jesus was explicit about the purpose of the church, which is to make disciples. Does that mean the church replaces the Holy Spirit? No, it means the church is a community that the Holy Spirit uses to bring individuals to mature Christlikeness and genuine Kingdom usefulness. The balance between an individual’s faith, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is vital and delicate. Once lost or distorted, it must be corrected, or a counterfeit Christian existence will grow in place of the real thing.

If you’ve read me in the last six months, you will see the influence of that statement. It resonates with what Chris Wright says in this interview clip from Imbi’s doc – paraphrased ‘before we worry about raising up leaders – we need to worry about making disciples.

So, on the day after this blog’s sixth birthday, what will be it’s future. I really don’t know.

Kablamm Get The Hell Out

I do know that I will continue to write as long as I have breath and can form a coherent thought. Some of what I write (and occasionally mash up in Photoshop) will offend some and make others laugh. (And then I will probably write something that will reverse the audience effects.) I will continue on the occasionally quixotic quest to convince those in places of positional authority that their primary role is to disciple. The consumer church will remain in my sites.

As I bring this much too long blogiversary historical post to a close, I’d like to thank the folk who have encouraged me to continue in what may be my role as a Christian gadfly (in Triple D’s words). I especially appreciate the encouragement from a recent email. Thank you, Mark B.

And if you've made it this far in the post, I apologize for it's length.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

36 responses to 6 or 42? The Blogiversary Confessions of a Christian Gadfly

  1. Happy anniversary. Many thanks for both encouraging and challenging me in my thinking. The blogosphere is a better place with you in it.

  2. Thanks, Jan, and back at you.

  3. Thanks for sharing your journey with us Bill. I appreciate your perspective, humor, and commitment to B.S. removal. Blessings!

  4. Thanks, Ed.

  5. You’re a friend, and you’re a very good blogger. So glad to have come across your blog all those years ago.

  6. Blessings dude.
    It’s some of the folks i’ve found online… blogging… ect… that have really kept my sanity. (i didn’t say how well, i might add)
    But i’m glad we tag in our journey.. i have enjoyed reading and your slam dunks on some issues. You’ve had me laughing, nodding, rolling my eyes and saying as only a New Jersey/New Yorker can: “from your lips to gawd’s ears!”

  7. Thanks, Cat!

  8. Great anniversary post Bill. Thanks for sharing your heart and journey all these years with that quick and wonderfully wicked wit. May he grant you many more years on the fruitful path.

  9. I’m glad you’re blogging, Bill. I came across yours via iMonk, and I’m glad I did. Blessings to you, and please continue!

  10. in an era when my energy level seems to be slumping toward suburbia, yours is one of the very very few blogs i force myself to find the energy to read on a regular basis. you’re a whirlwind and a worldwinder and a spellbinder. now that’s a compliment i can’t say is true of anyone else i know. rock on, bro bill, for at least another 6! we need you online.

    p.s. okay, make that 42 …

  11. Love you, Billigator! (oh oh…I may be starting to sound like Brad!) Keep on … and thanks for being you.

  12. Congrats on your 6 years!

    I’m new here, but look forward to perusing a bit.

    I’ll be back! (somebody said that once…or twice)

  13. Thanks, Jason and Rick. Your comments are much appreciated. And I enjoy both of your blogs, as well.

  14. Bill, I love your writing, humor, and thinking. You challenge, encourage, and provoke me. I do believe Jesus is using you in his church reformation even as you yourself are being reformed.

    Happy blogiversary!

  15. Bill, you are a great writer & a better friend. I only wish I had gotten to know you when we shared a city! Strangely, we didn’t cross paths… (wink). Love ya, bro!

  16. It takes time to process the wounds of life. Just be who you are. That’s what has always made your writing so good.

    And congrats on 6 years! Keep it up. Yours is an important voice.

  17. You are all far too kind. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Means a lot to this old man – who is hopefully growing younger daily through the influence of all of you. (And yes, Brad & Peggy, I do know we’re close in age – but you two are definitely a leaders in the growing younger category!)

    Now back to my regular scheduled procrastination. 🙂

  18. I should have told you that after you called me a “gadfly” at lunch, I had to go look it up when I got back to the loft. You being as irenic a fellow as you are – I was pretty sure it didn’t mean what I had thought it did. And now I do know what it means. 🙂

  19. And thank you for being a good friend and great encourager on this road we travel together.

  20. Bill

    I am grateful for your writing and our connection. Please keep both going.


  21. Milton,
    I look forward to the day when we can sit down for a meal together.

  22. Bill,

    One of these days, we may actually meet face-to-face…

    Until then, this blog is a welcome read! 🙂

  23. omg dood. does that mean eventually we’ll regress and have acne? AGAIN? can’t i just be allergic to myself without having my face break out like in the old … umm … young days?

  24. Happy anniversary to Achievable Ends!

  25. Dude, I am not worthy to be included in this gem of an anniversary blog post … if there is such a thing as spiritual edifying entertainment for the soul, this blog is it. … I read regularly, just not regularly enuf, because you don’t write enuf! We need more. I’ve been blessed to have you encouraging me and spurring me on … good friends like you are hard to find

  26. No, brother Brad … he means the young at heart kind ;^)

  27. Amen … not to the unworthy part — ;^)– but the “spiritual edifying entertainment for the soul” part!

  28. Thanks Bill for the historical progression of your life in the Spirit. In many ways, what you have experienced is the history of a large segment of the church written small in the life of one man. That is tremendously helpful to see. The fact that you wear your heart on your sleeve gives many of us the realization that we are not alone in the similarities of the experiences we have. The fact that you don’t know what is next does not surprise me. The path of these six years could never have been planned. So, I look forward to sharing vicariously in your life as you help us all face the changes that are happening in the church that are inexplicable and God-sent, for the most part.
    My you know the peace and kindness of God each day.

  29. Bill,

    It’s been great reading you these years. Don’t quite recall how I first encountered your blog, but it’s been a treat to read these last, oh, let’s say three or so years that I’ve been following you.

  30. Bill, you perhaps miss the significance of your encouraging so many others to blog and share their ideas, to find their niche and voice in the great “out there.” I have loved to watch the ebb and flow of your creativity as you write, then stop, then start again, all the while with a tinge of angst that you cannot do more, yet impacting many with just a trickle (or torrent) of truth and insight. Thanks for being you and for the willingness to be vulnerable “out there” in every man’s (and woman’s) land. We are all the better for it. Congratulations! I would not be doing what I do today if it was not for you and Imbi.

  31. Thanks, John. And I'd suggest you've had at least as much impact on Imbi and me, as we might have had on you. And I do really miss traveling Africa with you. (For others reading this, John is the primary reason Imbi and I began going to the beautiful African continent.)

  32. Har … here I am, several days late and dollars short.

    I love how clearly you can trace your blog history. What a fabulous story. I’ll join the Greek chorus and agree that I too enjoy reading your blog. I especially enjoy that you do not post too many videos because I am reader, not a listener, though I know that goes against your grain.

    You (and the rest of the gators) are my church community and I am deeply and eternally grateful for your friendship and love throughout the years.

  33. A beautiful post from a beautiful voice in the Christian wilderness. May the Spirit imbue you with more wisdom, wit and whimsy in the next few years. You are a great soul, my friend, made of mighty threads of hope and love and care for the soul of the church. May your tribe increase. The next coffee is on me.

  34. Brian J Munro March 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Keep writing Bill. I miss Michael, too. I agree that God did not plan for him to die so young, but I believe God can redeem our loss through the community Christ created through Michael’s servant spirit.

    Christ is coming and their are disciples to prepare (including me), and new ones to make. Keep encouraging, for it is courage we need to do the dangerous and exciting work of the church.


  35. Six years must have some meaning. It took me six years to fully process what happend to me when I went to work for a mega and came out five months later only to go home, shut the blinds and immerse myself in the Word to find out what it meant to really follow Christ.

    People who cannot see behind the curtain have no idea.

  36. We are living in the midst of a Christendom that would shock Yeshua, the Nazarene. The business/marketplace model has taken over from Middle-Eastern spirituality. Is it any wonder folk hungry for spiritual perspective turn to the East when the religion that carries Yeshua’s name only turns such folk away from Him. Sad but true!


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