Twelve Top Blogs Among Churches of Christ (By Bobby Ross Jr.)

A decade ago, I had no idea what a blog was.
John Dobbs, then the preacher for the Central Church of Christ in Pascagoula, Miss., introduced me to the concept not long after I joined The Christian Chronicle as managing editor in 2005.
As I delved into the world of blogging, I discovered that Christians — ordinary members and leaders alike — were using free Internet software to create personal websites, share experiences and discuss doctrine and daily life.
Some of the most popular bloggers — such as “Preacher Mike” Cope, then minister for the Highland Street Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas — were attracting thousands of readers and inspiring hundreds of comments. Discussions that previously might have occurred on the pages of a brotherhood publication or over lunch at a Christian university lectureship had moved online.
Fast-forward to 2015, and the world of communication has changed even more. The amazingly fast rise of social media has relocated many online conversations to Facebook, Twitter and the like. Still, the peg for such dialogue often starts with an idea expressed on a personal blog.
For this post, I was asked to highlight top blogs across the vast spectrum of Churches of Christ. In compiling this list, I considered factors such as quality of writing, relevancy of topics, overall appeal to readers and frequency of posts (it’s so easy to start a blog, then go months without posting!). No doubt, my list leaves out many wonderful blogs. By all means, please share links to your own favorites.
My recommendations (in random order):
1. Out Here Hope Remains by John Dobbs. Looking for a king of blogging in Church of Christ circles? Look no farther. To my knowledge, no blogger in our fellowship has blogged for as long or as consistently as Dobbs, now minister for the Forsythe Church of Christ in Monroe, La. He has poured out his heart on subjects ranging from the Hurricane Katrina relief effort to the tragic death of his son. Plus, he maintains an excellent blog roll of “Awesome Bloggers.”
2. Preacherpollard’s Blog by Neal Pollard. Like me, Pollard is a baseball fan and writes about the sport from time to time. But that’s not the only reason his blog is a winner. Pollard, minister for the Bear Valley Church of Christ in Denver, regularly hits home runs on topics ranging from race to lust to “selfism.” One of his best posts of recent months had this catchy title: “Sarcastic, stormy squabbles among the saints.”
3. Experimental Theology by Richard Beck. As I informally surveyed fellow Christians for suggestions for this list, Beck’s blog came up time and again. “Completely unique perspective and the best blog done by anyone from our tradition,” said one preacher. Beck is a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. As Beck describes his blog, he endeavors to spend “enormous amounts of time writing about the theology of Johnny Cash, the demonology of Scooby-Doo or (my) latest Bible class on monsters.”
4. God Scout by Jennifer Gerhardt. Gerhardt is a former reporter and college English teacher whose husband, Justin, preaches for the Round Rock Church of Christ just outside Austin, Texas. She’s a talented, creative, insightful blogger, and I can’t describe her style any better than she does: “I look for God in the bushes (burning or otherwise), in books, on mountain tops, in conversations over waffle fries, underwater, and in gluten-free communion bread. I believe sometimes the unseen can be seen. When I catch a glimpse I take notes.” Amen.
5. The Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts by Timothy Archer. Don’t let the title fool you. Archer’s blog isn’t half-baked at all. The director of Spanish-speaking ministries for Herald of Truth, Archer said he envisions his posts as a means of helping people think seriously about Scripture, how we interpret it and how we live in today’s world. He dares to address topics such as political activism by Christians. Other posts focus on areas such as bilingual ministry — a subject close to his heart — and theological matters such as the Lord’s Supper.
6. A Place for the God-Hungry by Jim Martin. Martin’s blog is always informative and always helpful. The former longtime minister for the Crestview Church of Christ in Waco, Texas, serves as vice president of Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn. I love Martin’s how-to lists, such as “10 Ways to Have More Energy for Your Work,” “10 Ways Parents Can Make a Difference,” “10 Qualities of a Good Dad,” “Want to Make a Difference? (9 truths about ministry)” and “5 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids.”
7. Trying to live with a little peace, a little humor, and great shoes by Adelle Gabrielson. Gabrielson is a graduate of Pepperdine University and a children’s ministry assistant for the Campbell Church of Christ in California, where she also handles the website, social media and marketing. A good friend notes that she’s also “a spiritual role model and mentor to many.” On her blog, she writes, “I spent years feeling disgruntled and discontent — I spent years struggling with worry, fear, doubt and a daily sense of failure. Through a journey of personal discovery, loss, grief and God’s gentle guidance, I have found freedom in my flaws. If I can help just one more person find that same sense of personal peace and contentment, then the journey has been worthwhile.”
8. New Shepherds Orientation (and Seasoned Shepherds Revitalization) by Jerrie Barber. Barber, who lives in Maury City, Tenn., spent 40 years in full-time ministry. For the past eight years, he has focused on “interim ministry,” serving five congregations in that role. His relatively new blog (launched in January) is geared toward men who serve as elders, men who want to be elders and those who love elders. Barber tackles questions ranging from “Where Does A Person Go After Suicide?” to “How Can I Deal with Gossip?” to  “What Can Elders Learn from Jesus About Being Shepherds?”
9. Morning Rush by Terry Rush. Here’s another blogger who loves baseball. But Rush’s inclusion has little to do with the “Field of Dreams.” Instead, the longtime minister for the Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa, Okla., appears here because of his encouraging words. Rush writes: “It seems to me that too many have concluded they aren’t good enough, aren’t smart enough, or aren’t skilled enough. Not so! One of the striking things about the heart of God is He counts each individual as a gem to be treasured. My job is to notify as many as possible of His acceptance and approval of them.” Via his blog, Rush fulfills that mission on a regular basis.
10. Radically Christian by Wes McAdams. McAdams serves as the preaching minister for the Baker Heights Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. His blog touts “1st Century Christianity in a 21st Century World.” He’s a Texas Rangers fan (and so is his wife, Hollee), but again, the quality of his ideas and writing landed him on this list. His posts never fail to be engaging, including recent examples such as “3 Reasons Christians Need to be Fasting,” “Stop Turning Worship into a Talent Show” and “One Reason You Are Bored with the Bible.”
11. Start2Finish by various writers. OK, here’s the part of the post where I start cheating. Rather than force myself to pick my favorites from the all-star cast of bloggers assembled by Start2Finish, I’m recommending the entire crew. Start2Finish’s superb bloggers include Michael Whitworth, Timothy Gunnells, Jack Dodgen, Ashley Hudson, Scott Elliott, Chad Landman, Steven Hunter and others. The guru behind Start2Finish is Whitworth, pulpit minister for the Carter Lake Road Church of Christ in Bowie, Texas.
12. Wineskins by various writers. Now I know what they mean by “slippery slope,” because after cheating once, I’m going to do it again. Some might argue that I could do an entire “Twelve Top Blogs” list using only Wineskins contributors, and they just might be right. This site’s “Who’s Who In Churches of Christ” list of featured authors includes — in alphabetical order — Sara Barton, Dan Bouchelle, Matt Dabbs, Les Ferguson Jr., Jay Guin, Paula Harrington, John Mark Hicks, Patrick Mead, Sean Palmer, Jonathan Storment, Bobby Valentine and Naomi Walters.
Your turn: Which blogs (be it those on this list or others not mentioned) are your favorites? What topics appeal to you? What advice would you offer to a Christian starting a new blog?

Bobby Ross Jr. serves as chief correspondent for The Christian Chronicle and blogs on media coverage of religion at GetReligion.org. A 1990 journalism graduate of Oklahoma Christian University, he is a longtime member of the Edmond Church of Christ in Oklahoma, where he serves as a deacon for communications. He and his wife, Tamie, have three children: Brady, Keaton and Kendall. Follow him on Twitter at @bobbyross. Find links to all his articles at www.bobbyrossjr.com.

Photo credit: The Christian Chronicle, by Bobby Ross Jr. Some rights reserved.

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Author:  Publish Date: June 2, 2015

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