blahonline.net is a new web site. we have been cooking this up for while so i'm pretty chuffed that it is finally up. as many of you know i work for CMS (church mission society). CMS has been around over 200 years, was very involved in sending missionaries to asia and africa in that great missionary era. and to this day is a mission movement with mission partners round the world (including in the uk as we are now a pretty serious mission context ourselves!). historically it was a member society - so there were member groups all round the country who supported, prayed for, made decisions about and gave money to CMS. but like lots of institutions the membership has aged over the years and younger people generally don't sign up to organisations in the same way or want to join those membership groups (that's not to say there aren't younger members - there are). we have lots of younger people involved in mission who join up with us whether relationally, going on short term mission trips, via youth ministry, emerging church networks or whatever. historically the relationship with people has been via area co-ordinators and getting on the mailing list to get CMS magazine 'Yes'. we have discussed with several groups what might be a new way of belonging and fueling peoples thinking and ongoing mission. for example it is typical that when someone has travelled overseas and had a cross cultural encounter that they want to carry that experience forward into their situation - often they are pretty fired up. some carry this forward but others end up isolated and feeling a bit cut off. anyway.... to cut a long story short blahonline is one new way we want to do this relating and encouraging of mission.
it's a site that is as open as possible - you don't have to sign up to read discussions or articles, but if you do sign up as a member you can start a blog (or add in the address of your existing blog if you have one), upload photo albums (25 pictures worth per member i think), join in discussions, download resources, contact other members etc... and it's free. it's got potential, though like all these things it will be what members make it. we're still piloting it i.e. it is under development, and we'll have a second stage of development i'm sure. some things are still being got to work properly but it is good enough to get going. it has some neat features - we can restrict things - so a discussion or some resources can be made available to a subset of members (e.g. a kit list for a group traveling overseas that the rest of the world don't need to see, or a sensitive discussion on something). it can be decentralised - i.e. we can have a group of people that can add to and edit the site....
if you are interested sign up and join in... please give your feedback (there's a discussion thread for feedback) so that we can improve it.
i have written an article idiot's guide to starting a blog on there that i will add a link to in the sidebar. there is also a feature by kester brewin who spoke at the last blah... on the complex christ and a related discussion thread. i hoped the site would be ready sooner but if you were at blah... and wanted to react it's not too late. kester will be dropping in i'm sure.
this isn't an emerging church site - we (cms) are one of the partners in emergingchurch.info and i think that site is fantastic so will still be pushing stories and reflections and joining in discussions there and want to see that expand and grow. this site is about fueling a wider range of mission.
we hope it will grow to have members from round the world. one example that excited me as a possibility is that i am planning to take a group of youth workers to a conference in india next year on globalisation and mission (if you are interested in coming buzz me an e-mail). there will be people there from india, pakistan, sri lanka, nepal, bangladesh, etc... i was chatting with one of the people organising it and he was saying that it would be great to get people there to join the community. it's early days - who knows. but the potential is there.... and (related to kester's article) it's a gift.