Hi - my name is Michael Boyink, and this is my "Story About God", which in my case led to the website you are visiting.
You see - I'm both a Christian and a web-geek. I wrote the following in an article posted on HealYourChurchWebsite.com in August of 2004:
So here's the core frustration of what's starting to become a personal rant. In one corner, we have the church website. No, let's not call it a website. Let's call it a "Story Container". A searchable, accessible, readable, always-available, hyperlinked, cross-referenced story container. In the other corner, the Church has the best story. Indeed - "The Greatest Story Ever Told". And countless related personal stories - stories of great faith, triumph over addictions, persistence through illness, gain from loss, and undeserved grace.
But we go on... presenting our churches like products - telling people why they'll like our church (Relevant! Great Music! Fresh Coffee!) but so rarely simply telling the stories of what our church, our faith, and our God has meant to us, and the true change seen in our lives because of it. What is it going to take to wake the modern church to the power of connecting the two, and filling our websites with our own stories?
It's those stories that members need to tell and visitors need to hear. Those stories are going to move people closer to God. And if our church websites aren't moving people closer to God then we're wasting our time.
C'mon. Tell me a story of when God was good to you. Oh..before you start...I'll bet there are other people that would like to hear it too. Can I put it somewhere where they will find it when they need to?
Since writing that, I continued to be a rather vocal critic of the church's use of the internet, posting comments and other articles on my own website and others like ChurchMarketingSucks.com and StrategicDigitalOutreach.com.
Then in November of 2005 while I took a one-day Sabbatical - a day where I packed some food and a lawn chair and went and sat in the woods to disconnect, read, rest, and pray.
While out in the woods, I started to again ponder the use of the Internet by the Church. I was reading Psalm 39 and, coupled with Psalm 90:17 (which in my Bible uses a "give permanence to" phrasing), made me start to question and pray about whether I was doing anything "permanent" to further the Gospel. I know that God has chosen to gift me with a vision for how the Church could be using the Internet to spead the Gospel, but had I been doing anything permanent?
Suddenly all the snarky comments while reviewing bad church websites, or articles complaining about the shortcomings of the Church on the Internet didn't seem so permanent. Oh, they'll be around on the 'net for awhile, but buried, date and time-stamps showing their age, and even if found aren't positive contributions.
God convinced me it was time to take my ideas for how the Church could use the Internet and "put up or shut up". If I thought the notion of the Church using the web for storytelling was such a great one, what could I do about it that was "permanent"?
God's answer was: Launch StoriesAboutGod.org, and give people that place to tell their stories online.
No, it's not what I wanted to hear. The web is full of places where people can talk - email, email lists, discussion forums, blogs..does the web really need another website just for people to "tell stories about God"? I prayed more about it...and continued reading through Psalms. I started noting the verses where the Bible talked about how we should tell each other stories about God as a means of praise, remembrance, witness to future generations. Psalm 145: 11-12 is a good example:
"They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom".So I built the site, and here we are. My hope for StoriesAboutGod.org is that, by reading these stories, visitors will be brought to tears and brought to their knees, crying out "You Are Holy" to the God of the universe.
So that's my story, now won't you tell yours?