You may be aware of God52 – the very organic little initiative which grew out of a new year’s resolution and into a community of people doing spiritual formation challenges together. If not – it has its own site here; I invite you to read, find out more, and join in with what many people are discovering to be a pretty life-impacting exercise.
With all the guest blogging that’s going on, it actually makes a lot of sense for God52 to have its own site, but my original reason for moving it there was because a wise friend (as well as a couple of less friendly people) pointed out how easy it would be for it to become a platform for me and my ego. That was definitely something that I knew wouldn’t be right – but of course I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to ignore my friend’s advice.
Since then, I’ve had various conversations – some informal, some more serious – around ways to develop God52 into something bigger; into a more powerful ‘brand’. They’re all definitely wrong. But because of the sort of person I am; because I’m obsessed with creating new stuff, some of them were quite tempting. So – in an attempt to protect myself from any moments of weakness, I’m going to list them here, so that you can be my witnesses. Here are a few things we’ll never do with God52:
God52 the book. You can imagine it now – coming to a Christian bookstore near you, another addition to the shelves and shelves of Christian books that didn’t need to be written. “Martin Whatshisname and Jamie Thingemebob reflect on a year of living more spiritual formationally.” Includes 52 challenges which you could just get off the Internet. One publisher has already approached me. So no: there will be no God52 book.
God52 the event. Part of my life involves launching, planning, hosting and speaking at events, so of course my natural instinct is to create some sort of ‘offline’ gathering around God52. But that wasn’t the original idea – God52 is an online project; an opportunity to use the Internet and social media for good (rather than for arguing about theology and women bishops). There doesn’t need to be an event. There are probably too many Christian events as it is. There will be no God52 event.
A cooler website. The God52 website is limited because Jamie and I know about as much about web design as we do about Nigerian cheese. Which is not a lot. But we like it that way – we’re not trying to build anything flash or clever, and we’d fail if we did. Simplicity stays – it’s a spiritual discipline after all.
Sponsored challenges. About a month in, I got my first email about this – I’ve had a couple more since. Organisations which – motivated by their own brilliant mission and vision – have asked whether we might do a God52 challenge that points people to their cause, or even directly to them. I don’t mind them asking, but the answer will always be a polite no. It’s a very short leap from there to sell-out city.
Year two. Here’s the big one. The stats on the God52 site are building steadily – the graph, if you were to draw one, would suggest explosive growth in year two, once word of mouth has spread about the idea. That’s when it could really take off and become a big deal in the British and even the international church. So there won’t be a year two. God52 is for 2013 only – someone else can come up with something new; something even more creative, helpful and visionary.
All of this is to say: God52 is a simple idea about developing character and spiritual discipline. And maybe the greatest act of discipline for me is going to be keeping it that simple. If I’ve done my job properly, then at the end of 2013, we’ll all walk away from this a little closer to God, and a little closer to each other. We’ll reflect on a good year, hopefully inspired to continue going deeper with God. And that’s it.
Do join in with God52 this year then. Lurk and read. Do the challenges when you feel prompted to, or try like me to accomplish them all (I’ve already failed at least one). Write a guest blog post. Invite your friends to join in – whether they’re Christians in your small group, or not-yet-Christians you know from the pub. It’s a simple idea, and it’s working as a result. I commit to you all now; it’s going to stay that way.