Best Christian Design has had the privelege to interview Tim Challies – the blogger, author and designer.¬† Challies.com is one of the most widely used Christian blogs on the internet. But I will let Tim do the rest of the talking…
How did you become a Christian and what impact has God had on your life?
I had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home. My parents are really among the best theologians I know so from a very young age I was taught the truth about who God is, who I am in relation to God, and what God demands of me. Still, it was not until my teen years that I became a believer, surrendering my life to the Lord. Since then I don’t think there is an area of my life that has not been impacted and perhaps even transformed by God’s presence. And still I pray that God continues to mold me into the image of his Son and that he enables me to give over all of my life.
You are currently a blogger and web designer, How did you get involved in this line of work?
I am, indeed, both a blogger and a web designer. Both really came about by accident, I suppose. In April of 2002 I was bored. Not just a little bored either, but mind-numbingly, depressingly, discouragingly bored. Having recently been laid off from a job I had held for several years, I was now working at a new job where I was system administrator at a small company in downtown Oakville. Though the pay was good and the office‚Äôs location was great, the job itself was terribly drab. It was repetitive and boring. I found myself in the unenviable position of knowing that I was expendable to the company. I did not have enough to do, but knew that if I went to my boss and told him this, I would effectively be writing my own pink slip. I tried to keep busy but with little success. So I sat in my windowless basement office, dealing with terrible headaches from the noise of the forty computers I shared an office with, and waited for the day to end. And always I felt just a little bit guilty for not putting in, and not being able to put in, an honest day‚Äôs work. One day I went for a walk at lunch time and as I walked I prayed that God would somehow reveal to me whether or not I should quit my job and go out on my own in some kind of computer-related business. I guess I was hoping for a lightning bolt or a voice from the sky or something. As it turns out, that was not far from the truth. I walked back to the office at the end of my lunch break and got called to my boss’s office. He told me that I was going to be laid off effective immediately. They gave me some severance pay, had me clear out my desk, and off I went. And just like that, my company was born. I taught myself web design over the course of a couple of weeks, found a few clients, and off I went.
That fall I started a little web site. My family had just moved to the United States and I wanted a forum where I could show them pictures of my family (I had one child already with another on the way). One day I got it in my head to write an article and post it there so my folks could read it. They enjoyed it so I wrote another. Then the search engines did their magic and other people began to read them as well. Soon ten people a day were visiting, then twenty or thirty. Soon I decided to get rid of the pictures of my kids and keep up the writing. And things just kind of escalated from there.
How do you think Christians can use the internet to reach a lost world and ultimately to glorify God?
I think that question is one that in many ways remains to be answered. Certainly we can use blogs and web sites and forums and any other means of communication to glorify God and to help people see and treasure him. But the internet is still in its infancy so we are still just learning how to communicate in this strange new medium. As time goes on and as online community develops, I think we will find exciting new ways of sharing the gospel online. Always we want to take advantage of new ways of communicating the gospel, but always we need to be aware of our tendency to be pragmatic and to let the message be lost in the medium. So to this point I’ve been perhaps a little underwhelmed at online evangelistic efforts, but I do think a better day is coming.
Your blog www.challies.com has become one of the most popular christian blogs online. If someone was to ask you what the purpose behind your blog was, what would you say?
The purpose of my blog is really to give me a forum to think in (hopefully) a distinctly Christian way and then give my readers a means of (hopefully) thinking in a distinctly Christian way. So I do that through articles and quotes and reading classic books of the faith and through book reviews and just about any other way I can think of.
There is a lot of talk these days about church and social networking, do you have any views on twittering in church etc?
Social media is all the rage. Like most things it has great benefits and great potential drawbacks. We can feel a strange and irrational pressure to join in the fun–to begin a Facebook account or to begin to Twitter, and so on. But those who join usually quickly learn that these things do not change their lives. So yes, social media has some great uses, but I think for the vast majority of us it is a black hole that sucks into it nearly endless amounts of time and energy. I don’t know that any of us would lose much if Facebook and Twitter one day just disappeared.
Finally, apart from your own, what are your top 5 favorite blogs?
I read about 100 blogs or so. That is to say I skim 100 or so and read what looks interesting on them on any given day. My tastes run from news and book reviews to blogs dealing with the Toronto Blue Jays and blogs dealing with commercial aircraft. I don’t know that I could pick five of them as favorites. Really, how many blogs produce consistent quality day after day after day?