Celebrating Three Years:

For Sunday June 24, 2007

           Lectionary Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, Year C)
           1 Kings 19:1–4, (5–7), 8 –15a or Isaiah 65:1–9
           Psalm 42 and 43, or Psalm 22:19–28
           Galatians 3:23–29
           Luke 8:26–39

Early Christian symbols: fish and anchor.

Early Christian symbols: fish and anchor.

           Celebrate with us!  This week Journey with Jesus turns three years old. It was on June 23, 2004 that we launched our “weekly webzine for the global church.”  That was 800,000 readers and 215 countries ago. I would like to say a special thanks to our board, and to web master Ray Cowan. Ray's an MIT physicist who works at Stanford. While I provide all of our content, Ray does all things technical for us, and he does it with remarkable skill and kindness.

           Over the last three years Journey with Jesus has built a readership of 60,000 unique users per month.  And we’re still growing. Many pastors use us for sermon preparation. Others print out the weekly essay with questions for reflection to use as a Sunday school lesson. Our poetry page is one of our most popular destinations. Over 14,000 academic institutions have logged onto our site, so we know that many Christians in university settings appreciate Journey with Jesus.

Christian sarcophagus, marble, c. 359.
Christian sarcophagus, marble, c. 359.

           I like to think that readers appreciate the six values that inform our Christian vision: biblical fidelity rooted in my weekly essays on the Revised Common Lectionary; critical inquiry about honest questions; cultural relevance as seen in our weekly reviews of books, films from 35 countries, music and poetry; pastoral sensitivity that honors the real-life experiences of the local church, pastors, and everyday followers of Jesus; global awareness that celebrates how the kingdom of God that Jesus announced embraces "every nation, tribe, people, and language" (Revelation 7:9); and ecumenical generosity that rejoices at how "the Spirit blows where He wills" (John 3:8).

           I’m especially pleased with our global reach.  In any one day an average of 45 countries visit us. In one week we serve readers from an average of 97 countries.  In a single month, 138 countries access Journey with Jesus. All told, in the last three years readers from at least 215 countries have enjoyed our site. Many of them translate our site into one of ten languages using Google’s machine translation.  Overall, 30% of all our traffic is international.

            Our comprehensive indexes now comprise a mini-library of 800 essays, poems, podcasts, and reviews of books, films, and music.

Boat with Mark, Luke, John and Jesus.
Boat with Mark, Luke, John and Jesus.

           Journey with Jesus is all free, all the time, to all readers. At various times our board has considered how we might "monetize" the site, through advertisements, for example, or by charging for premium content. We've rejected that path, and as a result ads don’t clutter our site, and our many readers who live in under-resourced parts of the world enjoy a free resource.

           I’m always encouraged by readers who email us, sometimes with problems or questions, but mainly to thank us. Believe me, I appreciate your encouragement. A few weeks ago a pastor from Iceland wrote, “ I would like to thank you for your essay posted on the Web on 21 May 2007. It helped me greatly in preparing my sermon for this Pentecost Sunday.  Thank you and may the Spirit of Pentecost (in Icelandic "andi hvitasunnu") bless you and your ministry.” Closer to home, Alec wrote: “I just stumbled on to your site a few days ago and it’s already become an easy favorite. As a high school senior going off to college in the fall, I really appreciate the balanced intellectual/emotional approach you take in all your essays. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.”

Jesus the Good Shepherd, 5th century.
Jesus the Good Shepherd, 5th century.

           Please pray for us. In the Old Testament reading from 1 Kings 19 this week, Elijah hid in a cave and cowered as a powerful wind, a mighty earthquake, and a raging fire passed by outside. But the text says that God was not in any of those overt and obvious natural forces. Rather, we read that God spoke to Elijah in a "gentle whisper." Please pray that all those who read this weekly webzine will experience the distinct whisper of God, however faint, amidst the noise of life.

           Sharing our site with your friends is a huge help to us. Just use the "Email this Page" function. You can enter multiple email addresses with a single request.

           Finally, perhaps you might consider financial support. Like all non-profits, Journey with Jesus depends upon strong year-end giving.  As we end our fiscal year on June 30, and celebrate three years of global ministry, our board and I would be grateful for your generous support. In the USA your gift is tax deductible. You may mail a check to our post office address (above), or give online by clicking on "Make a Donation" and using PayPal.

           In the name of Jesus,
           Daniel B. Clendenin, PhD