As a man who has spent years writing in the fields of journalism and academia, I am about to break one of my most concrete rules: I am about to speak about myself and talk in the first person. I do this because I feature prominently in the story I am about to tell. It is unavoidable to tell it from my perspective. I began my journey as a semi-professional Apologist in 2011, at which time I was hired by a news outlet to write features on Christianity, with a heavy focus on Apologetics. This news source was not in any way religious in nature, but they featured writers on every topic under the sun, and I happened to cover Christian Apologetics. As a journalist, my primary assignment was news. The publisher wasn’t terribly interested in my engaging in Apologetics arguments – just writing news related thereunto. Now Apologetics is not a field in which there is a great deal of breaking news. Very few political or sensational events occurring within the field, so most of what I did involved reviewing books, events and podcasts – and also interviewing persons involved themselves in Apologetics. I had a few notable experiences in my time as a journalist. I had the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with notables such as Frank Turek, Paul Copan, and J. Warner Wallace, and get exclusive interviews about their work and ministry. More often, however, the interviews I did do, involved speaking to talented and engaged no-names who spoke regionally, produced media for websites, blogged and podcasted. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the job. Thrilling as it was to sit across the table with legends like Copan, I really enjoyed giving exposure to these young and passionate individuals who were making little splashes in the giant ocean of the ministry field. Of course, I, myself, was one of these little voices. I had a respectable and dedicated readership, but I was certainly no celebrity or household name in the field. Nevertheless, I was good at what I did, and I was invited to write for other Christian publications, including Christian Apologetics Alliance, Bible Translation Magazine, Premier Christianity, Christian Media Magazine, and I provided a few guest articles for others, as well. Eventually, I was encouraged to write a book, which I did to moderate success. It was not self-published either. As anyone – however amateur – who works in this field will tell you, you will inevitably have this nagging thought that hovers at the peripheral of your mind at all times. This thought is simply “I should host a conference!” You listen to debtors and speakers whom you really come to appreciate, and eventually, you feel tempted to invite them out to your area to speak and make a splash in your community. I had this same thought, but with a twist. I thought it would be amazing to do an entire conference, but instead of inviting the big-names to come, I would invite these talented unknowns whom I had worked to give exposure to. Get these bloggers and podcasters all on one stage for a weekend and show the world that there are amazing voices right in our midst who are simply overlooked by the Christian community they serve. In my mind, I jokingly called them “The Mentionables.” In the summer of 2017, I had a surgery. I was unable to return to work right away. In addition to this, my second book was in the hands of my agent, and no publishers were nibbling. With all of this extra time on my hands, I began to work very hard to “build my brand” so that I had name recognition which would make me more attractive to publishers. Among the things I did in order to gain this recognition was to start a Facebook group dedicated to my work as an Apologist. Of course, in order to keep people’s attention, you have to constantly churn out content. I began posting as often as I could about anything remotely interesting. It was during this period of frantic social media blitzing, that I posted my Mentionables dream. In the post, I tagged a few of the individuals I always thought about when I toyed with this idea of a conference. To my surprise, every single individual I tagged, responded with enthusiasm to the idea. They began to joke around in the thread, and also to daydream with me about what this idea would be like. The conversation went on for days, became ever more involved, and became far too bloated for a single thread. I took a risk and decided to create a Facebook group just for this conversation. But I made a mistake. Rather than opening a group, I accidentally created a page – which is a Facebook front for an organization. Having no organization to speak of, I accidentally gave us one. We were now loosely a team. Now things were getting serious. It was about this time that one of the team members suggested we create our own podcast. And then we did. About this time, I was becoming excited. Things were snowballing, and I didn’t know where this was going. I began to talk to a friend about the self-perpetuating project that had sprung from an off-handed comment online. That friend almost immediately approached his church, and without me realizing what was happening, they created a conference for The Mentionables. Without much effort, we now had a podcast, a website and a conference in the works. The team which had, honestly, self-assembled, included a former atheist with a tremendous amount of insight into that line of thinking, an urban Apologist whose ministry toward the urban church involved entirely different challenges than the typical Apologist, and a man whose Asperger’s syndrome gave him keen insights into all aspects of Apologetics – including the needs of the disabled population in the church. There were other members as well, but these three unique individuals were a tremendous asset to the team. After we had become a team and had begun working on a podcast and a conference, we began publishing articles together on our personal website. Not long thereafter, people began submitting questions to the team. The method we chose to answer the questions was as a team. So each question received several answers, allowing the reader to get several perspectives on the idea. This became a popular format and led to our first signature project. In this project, we took an article an atheist had posted titled “40 Questions to Ask Christians.” As a team, we each answered each question in the list, then published the catalog of answers we had created. After the initial success of The Mentionables, more small-time apologists began writing and asking to become part of the team. At this point, the “team” was becoming too bloated to be a speaking team. That’s when The Mentionables became a Network instead of a team. Now the vision was to catalog as many small-time Apologists as possible so that any church or Christian could check the catalog and find an Apologist local to them, or specialized in an area in which they had needs. The catalog continues to grow. The Mentionables is and was never intended to replace an individual’s ministry, but rather to promote and provide a platform for that ministry. Joining the Network doesn’t mean abandoning your current pursuits, rather it makes your ministry a part of a larger resource for other small-time Apologists and for Christians everywhere to find you. And if you aren’t an Apologist, but want to find one, The Mentionables might just have what you need. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.