One Thousand Not Out!

This post is my one thousandth article on the site, and I thought it was worth noting. It is not quite the case that I have written 1,000 articles, since some have been republished (most notably ‘Jesus was not born in a stable’, my most view post by a long way) and I have also welcomed contributions from guest writers on several occasions. Nonetheless, it is a milestone worth noting.

In term of statistics, the 1,000 articles have attracted 29,755 comments, and the site has had 3,190,853 page views since my first posting in 2011, though I only started regularly posting in 2013 after leaving my post in a theological college. It has been an exciting and slightly unexpected journey; I heard God call me very clearly to ‘write’ in summer 2012, and after the abrupt leaving of my teaching job in May the following year, hadn’t quite expected the blog to take off in the way it has. I hope and pray that it has served the people of God, including leaders, in their ministry and discipleship, but there have also been significant benefits for me. Someone once commented that the three key intellectual disciplines are reading, speaking and writing—and it is writing which forces you to hone your thoughts most sharply. Writing two or three 2,000 articles a week on the blog has certainly formed my own thinking, understanding, preaching and praying.


Of course, writing of any kind is never an isolated activity, and I am grateful for all who have supported and contributed to the enterprise. I am very grateful for those who have given financial support through Patreon. I am grateful for encouraging comments along the way, and for all those who have commended the blog and shared it with others. I am grateful for all those who take time to make comments and contribute to making this a space for clear (and sometimes robust!) exchange of views. I am grateful for those (including Andrew Goddard, Peter Ould, Liz Shercliff, Will Jones, Richard Peers and James Cary) who have make guest contributions. And above all I am grateful to my wife Maggie who has supported me in every way on this journey.

Looking to the future, there still seems to be plenty to do—my goal continues to be as stated in the streamline: ‘scholarship serving ministry’ so I will continue in my own study, my own ministry, and my working connecting these two worlds. I hope to continue the output for the foreseeable future, and this year hope to be able to make comments on Sunday lectionary readings on a regular basis in order to support and encourage good preaching across different traditions in the churches. Sexuality will continue to be a hotly contested issue in the Church of England, and I will continue to engage with that—though keeping it in its place (it still only represents around 10% of my posts, even though it generates more discussion and traffic!).

I would like to explore offering podcasts and perhaps creating some video podcasts, once I am clear how these would work best and to whom they would be useful and appeal. And I hope soon to reconfigure the way that people can offer support—not just financial, but personal and prayerful as well.

If you have any reflections on this ministry, and any suggestions for change and for future directions, I would love to hear them in the comments. Thanks for reading!


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42 thoughts on “One Thousand Not Out!”

  1. Re podcasts … I find I don’t have the time/patience to watch, it’s much quicker to read, and I can go over and over again if I need to ponder something. So may I suggest that if you go down the podcast route, you also publish the text of your ‘talk’ alongside? TED post full transcripts of their videos, and I find this very useful.

  2. Just wanted to say thanks for your ministry here Ian – it is very much appreciated by many people, including myself. I look forward to continuing to read your blog for the next 1,000 posts!

  3. From the Trent Bridge School of of Christian Theological Scholarship, played with a clear head and a straight bat.
    What doesn’t come across in writing, for those who don’t know you, which did in your interview by Glenn Scrivener, is your sure enthusiasm for scriptural understanding and more particularly, the gospel.
    As for stats, I don’t think I fall within your target readership. Nevertheless, I’d counsel caution that you don’t succumb to the King David syndrome of counting his cohort!

      • Ian,
        Writing, voice, visual?
        With voice, as you will be aware, there is cadence, tone, volume, emphases.
        Writing can be skimmed, returned to easily, is not as time consuming.
        Perhaps it’s both/and rather than either/or as Lynda above mentions.
        Perhaps different categories require different approaches. For example I have some books by Tim Keller and Martin Lloyd Jones which are sermons turned into books , and I have some of their sermons freely downloaded, which I can listen to while going about. And I have some lectures on scripture freely downloaded, without accompanying notes. Sometimes I’ve made my own notes and derive more benefit still. But we live in a distracted time poor age, though no longer do I at my age.

        I have little doubt that your preaching on Revelation is likely differ from your commentary book, or any lectures/teaching you may do. There are some exemplars, to my mind such as Alec Motyer, bringing his BST commentary on Exodus to life, but maybe the detail is missed.
        Preach/teach has a life a lot of lectures don’t. Again, an example might be your writings on the lectionary. It would be good to hear your preaching rather than having only your writings, or a rehearsed voiced preach , if you do such a thing, if you use notes Who was it who said, it’s truth through personality, or have I misquoted?
        If I were to do this together with someone, rather than share, send or link, it might be better to watch a video, like Alpha.
        Lastly, it is sometimes refreshing not to have a comments section at all. Some blogs such as Andrew Wilson’s have changed. In earlier days there were numerous comments, moderated? by him. Now there is none. It is a much quieter read now.

        So there you are- no help at all. Though it might reveal, mistakenly, that I’m a premillenial, whereas I’m a persuaded amillenial.

        • Thanks Geoff – I do agree. Just a thought to add that some people who write show more personality there than in their public speaking. I have been shocked more than once when listening to someone who write so well but speaks so boringly – especially some academic theologians.

          Ian manages to be gifted at both- my 21yr old son raved about his studies last year at New Wine.

          Truth through personality? Philip Brookes

          Pan-millenial here – it’ll all pan out in the end.

          • Simon,
            It’s cheers the heart to hear of your son and his response to Ian’s teach/preach. Maybe that is something that ought to weigh heavily in Ian’s consideration of focus, direction, in prayer and listening and study and sanctified common sense.
            Maybe your son would have views on the future what and how, from Ian, that would stimulate him to continue to “rave on” in scripture, the faith and gifting in his own ministry. Other than, of course, through your fatherly guidance and wisdom and (I’m presuming here) his mother even as he puts his own fingerprints on the cup of communion.
            Does he read this blog? Contribute? If not, why not?

          • Thanks Geoff – he was 21 last week so his own man now – but thank God has always known and walked with the Lord. Growing up in a clergy home and having heard all the named speakers being dragged to conferences for years, he could easily be somewhat jaded. Ian gave a daily apologetics lecture last year at New Wine and my son thought it the very best thing. My son is a young scholar and scientist (writing up his first paper for publication on something to do with livers) – he prefers the careful and detailed lectures to the rhetorical anecdotal fare often served at the big celebration events. Ian is one of those rare churchmen who are scholarly, pastoral, preacher and teacher and an all round good egg.

  4. I’m sure someone will bring out some sort of millennial quip. Are those of us who have commented already pre-millennials?

    Ian, will you name those who have commented the most?? I notice Synod has outed those who spoke the most. Please don’t! It would be interesting to know what those who visit but never comment make of the resource.

    3 million page views is a remarkable “oasis” – place for gathering, and the different viewpoints mostly behave well together when they gather – even when there is strong disagreement.

    You are now up to 29758 comments, unless someone else has posted while I am typing. 30,000 comments is also worth celebrating.

    Scholarship serving ministry is a good and apposite strapline, but the other elements are the learning to communicate respectfully within disagreement and the safety to comment even if you don’t think you are a scholar.

    Thank you for the oasis, and for keeping it for others. Your numbers show it is definitely a place where people gather.

    Peter

  5. Hi Ian, Ive only just recently found your blog, following a recommendation of your book on Revelation. Didnt realise it had been around sisnce 2011!

    Can I ask you a question, if you wish to answer – how did the ‘call’ to write manifest itself?

    Peter

    • Well it came very simply whilst I was praying one day in July 2012, when I simply heard God say one word: ‘Write’. That was it!

      I think there have been about seven times in my life, often at critical moments, when I have heard God something so clearly it was almost like an audible voice. (The most recent was when thinking about a job opportunity and whilst walking the dog God said ‘Don’t apply for that job’). When that happens, you take it seriously, but also reflect and live with it, continue to pray, and talk to others, as well as reflecting on why it might make sense.

      Does that help…?

          • Ive known many godly people who have not heard God in a direct way, but rather through the Bible or others. It’s very common amongst God’s people.

          • I think there is something both about expectation but also about practice and discernment.

            When I am out either gardening or walking the dog, my prayer will simply be ‘Lord, I am listening; speak if there is anything I need to hear.’ Quite a lot of the time there is nothing more than ‘Isn’t it a beautiful day!’ But the question is whether we are listening and ready to respond when the word does come…whatever way that is.

  6. Congratulations on the milestone, the blog is a great service to the church, and works better than any other despite being so open to contributions.

    • (Things that could have been phrased better… I meant:) …despite the potential hazards of giving a voice to people with such a wide range of viewpoints.

    • It would be good if the blog allowed you to edit a comment after you had posted it – as does Facebook. And perhaps upload a file?

      • Edit a comment? – no, I prefer the existing system, it keeps us all honest, encourages us to think twice before clicking “Post Comment”. If a comment is editable then it can be edited in a way that discredits replies that were posted after the initial comment appeared.

      • People sometimes add a second post correcting errors, and when I have time I go back and edit for them and delete their second post with the corrections.

        I think that is the best way. I am in the habit of proof reading comments I make on blogs and FB as well as my emails before posting or sending. It is a good discipline!

        • OK, thanks. Skype and Facebook allow edits – I think perhaps time limited? Also it is sometimes difficult to know where the post is going to appear in the thread and we ‘lose’ each other. These are small technology niggles. It is a good blog.

  7. Can I add my thanks. There have been a number of really helpful posts. One of the first which really had me hooked on this blog was the one on the haustafel.

    I would add my voice to that of Lynda about podcasts. I’m often reading at a time when I could not listen (and I don’t really like wearing headphones).

  8. Well done! I value the depth of thought, the reflections on matters coming up at Synod, and the reflections on Sunday readings. My outlook is often bounded by the local affairs of my parishes and your articles are a convenient window out on the wider world, long enough to give serious food for thought on a range of topics, stretching me, which I need to keep alive, but not so long I don’t bother doing the exercise.

  9. Speaking as someone who is at the edge of your target audience, I’d like to say ‘thank you, well done and keep it up’. Comments in response to articles may wax and wane in unpredictable ways, but we’re all still reading and learning and thinking.

    I’d also add (and please take this the right way) that despite your huge gifts, generously and graciously offered, I’m glad you have not been made a bishop. I’m sure God’s hand has been at work in preventing what would have been a harmful constraint on the time and freedom of a much needed (unique) voice of teaching, practical advice and prophesy in the Church of England, and beyond, particularly at this time.

  10. Congratulations and many thanks for your labours, Ian – we are all millennialists now.
    This blog is the best orthodox theological one I know for helping us to think in a faithful, evangelical way – as well as providing well-thought out exegesis for issues confronting the C of E.
    Sadly, I fear the C of E is now finished as an orthodox force because Welby and Sentamu are really pursuing a course of shallow therapeutic liberalism (limping after a post-Christian culture by advocating salvation through romantic love) while using semi-evangelical language which may resonate with some in a post-biblically literate church. Welby really wants to follow the sexual revisionism of TEC and Canada, even though those churches are now aged and almost dead – a fate that awaits the C of E in the next seven years as parish after parish faces closure and amalgamation.
    Nevertheless, the orthodox will reorganise themselves for the cold and increasingly anti-Christian culture developing in the UK (have you seen how Stonewall, already busy recruiting in state schools, is now being given public money to start new schools? That will go down a storm in Birmingham and Tower Hamlets). Maybe your writings on Revelation will have a new currency!
    But one question: did the voice say ‘Write!’ or ‘grapson’? (Yes, I’ve been reading Rev 3 this morning, the message to the Laodiceans.)

    • Thanks Brian. To coin a phrase, I think the death of the Church has been greatly exaggerated. There is much good happening on the ground, and the headlines (e.g. from Synod) are not a reliable guide.

      I did hear God in English, though twice God has spoken to me in dreams in another language, once in Hebrew (funnily enough, in a Hebrew back-translation of a Greek NT verse) and once in Greek. There you go.

  11. Tons of thanks Ian for your ministry and leadership …. I believe that it has not yet reached its God ordained fullness … i look forwards to the 1000 to come.

  12. Hi Ian,

    I’m not a scholar, nor an Anglican. (My Welsh grandfather was ordained a Baptist Minister after he emigrated to Australia.) I’m a Pentecostal Christian and don’t understand why we don’t all identify ourselves as that, ahead of our denominational identity.

    I only recently discovered your site and am enjoying it immensely. The pastor of our smallish congregation holds a doctorate and I always enjoy the way he challenges and inspires, just like you do.

    Please keep up the good work.

  13. Ian

    I hope you’ll believe me when I say thank you. I have met some very interesting people here, some of whom I agree with, some I don’t. Always challenging.

    And I’m glad God speaks to you in their own languages, as well as in English!

  14. Ian,

    Thank you for your interesting posts, and for your hospitality towards people with differing views. I have visited occasionally in the past but I have followed some topics more closely recently, especially after the letter/petition to the bishops of transgender issues, on which I know you have personal experience, and a subject that obviously impacts on me as a transgender female in the Church. I find it helpful to read views that are different to my own, because one is challenged to really think through why you believe the things you believe, and why other points of view raise points as well. Reading and writing from a conservative – catholic – socially liberal – charismatic viewpoint, I believe in diverse views and diverse expressions, and the possibility that conflicting views on some issues can be held with integrity and fidelity. I appreciate your learning and scholarship, which makes your website sharper.

    I also appreciate the range of people who come to the ‘agora’ here to talk faith, and I am impressed that you allow platform for differing views. To me that shows integrity and the courage of your own convictions.

    I should like to meet you one day.

    Susannah

  15. Thank you Ian for your hard work on this blog and the many hours involved, I know many people appreciate it and read, but maybe not comment. Your blog has been recommended at Deanery Reader meetings in Leicestershire.
    I also read The Wee Flea blog of Rev David Robertson, which is a mixture of podcast and articles and I think that mix works well.

  16. Like others, I came to the blog at the time of publication of the Revelation commentary – we were alerted to this by one of our tutors and he had sent us a link to an earlier blog on the Seven Churches. It has been a complete joy to read the enormous variety of subjects covered and (with respect to another commenter) to see your enthusiasm for each and every subject you have tackled. And as with another Reader who mentioned this, I have shared this with my Archdeaconry friends.

    I find myself in the fairly silent majority, having achieved only two posts in ten months. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence – and I have contributed richly to the numbers of “hits” you mention.

    Thank you for your concentration on the Lectionary readings: this is an excellent resource for those of us who are quite a way off the high peaks of understanding that you and your regular responders achieve. Some feel that a podcast might be an advantage but, for myself, I am doubtful. The amount of detail in the writing suggests that full appreciation is better achieved on a re-reading. Yes, this is time consuming but time spent on this is never wasted. A podcast goes at a speed and, although I take the point of the spoken word mentioned elsewhere, I doubt that I would get as much out of a broadcast.

    You invite reflections on your ministry: having heard God, stick with it! I echo the many lovely comments made by others. Just a very practical point: our contributions go through an American system which has a cost to both of us and is hazardous in terms of exchange rates. Is it possible to repatriate this?

    “Thank you” seems slightly inadequate for what you do for us all.

    • Dear Christo, thank you for your kind comments which I much appreciate!

      I agree with your ambivalence about podcasting–though I think doing something like that might engage a different audience for a different purpose, and would not replace writing.

      I am also frustrated with the Patreon system, and hope to change that in the near future.

      Thanks once again.

  17. Ian: thank you so much for hosting so many different views on the blog. It is generous and that enables robust conversation.
    Even though I am often one who will disagree with much that is written, my own personality type (Enneagram 8) means that I will often say something to provoke discussion. I might not always 100% agree with what I’ve written, or might simply be thinking allowed in a provocative way. 🙂

    • ‘my own personality type (Enneagram 8) means that I will often say something to provoke discussion’ Yes, I think I have noticed that! Thank you for contributing…

  18. Many thanks for all you do Ian.

    Am I the only one to notice the number of comments here along the lines of ‘I prefer reading a blog article to watching a video podcast’ who has then wondered how the reasons given in support of this view could also apply to sermons?

    From my rural perspective, I still disagree with your view ‘I think the death of the Church has been greatly exaggerated’. Looking internationally and across all time I fully agree with you, but locally now in my area (rural north west England), a great many congregations are on life support.

    • I think that in comparing sermons to blog posts and podcasts, I think we are talking about different contexts and issues. I feel convinced that there is a role for video podcasts (otherwise known as talks!) but that they would offering something parallel, not in place of, articles.

      I don’t doubt the reality of your experience in that rural contexts. But it is sobering to note the different things happening in different contexts…and perhaps also even noting how a good number of Christians in rural areas will travel elsewhere to attend church. I also think that the rural context is particularly susceptible to the loss of ‘habitual’ rather than ‘confessional’ Christians, as the centre ground between faith and unbelief disappears.

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