In iMonk Radio Podcast #96 Michael talks about shutting down the Internet Monk website and starting a new project, Jesus Shaped Spirituality. So let’s address the Internet Monk website first. He was warning people at the time that if where was anything they wanted to keep forever they needed to download it and save it. His plan was to heavily redact much of the material he had written and posted between the end of 2000 and the spring of 2008. He did delete some older posts but never to the extent he discussed early on. Internet Monk continued for another decade after Michael passed and there are 20 years worth of posts archived today at iMonk.blog
Michael wanted to move away from Internet Monk and move onto his next big project Jesus Shaped Spirituality. He defined Jesus shaped spirituality as “the discipleship, character change and community that are produced by following Jesus as he was revealed in his historical, fully human incarnation, as recorded in the New Testament, especially the four canonical Gospels.” Here is the first (real) post from May of 2008. There were regular posts until June of 2009. Then everything just stopped. No farewell post, no explanation, just oddly in the middle of a Bible Study on Mark’s Gospel there was no more activity. Hindsight being 20/20 Jesus Shaped Spirituality was not the next big project Michael would throw himself into; that would be his book Mere Churchianity. He talks about where material for a book might come from in podcast #96.
Michael Spencer was my friend, mentor and Bible teacher from 2003 until his passing in 2010. I wanted to offer my tribute to his influence on my life and ministry while he was still with us. Because of Michael Spencer was posted February 1, 2010 and linked to by Michael from Internet Monk in one of the last posts he wrote himself. For all the influence he had on my writing and desire to blog, it was my new blog that starting him thinking about doing something new. When I started blogging on WordPress I was like a kid with a new toy, or at best like a teen getting his first car. There were themes to choose from, blogrolls to populate, and the excitement of getting comments and checking stats each day. MIchael was an old pro by that time but he remembered the excitement of starting a new blog. When he first started talking about mothballing Internet Monk I sort of of panicked. Instead of riding his coattails into the Christian blogosphere I was about to be guy that ruined everything for thousands of readers and followers of the Internet Monk. Like I said, though, the Internet Monk blog was never really shut down, not the way he considered in the spring of 2008. Jesus Shaped Spirituality was not the next big project, that was his book which he promoted in the high traffic of Internet Monk .com. For the record, the full title of the book is Mere Churchianity: Finding your way back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality.
Bogging at Internet Monk gave a small town campus minister living just off the edge of the map in Appalachia a national and sometimes international audience. Who knows what the success of Mere Churchianity would have done in terms of opening doors and creating opportunities outside of Oneida? We can only speculate but at the same time take comfort in knowing that God’s thought are not like our thoughts and his ways are higher than our ways. It’s been nearly two years since I started the project of re-sharing all the iMonk podcasts that I’ve been able to track down. We started at podcast #104 which means… we are only a few weeks away from finishing up. I don’t have every episode that was ever published but I am close to making available every one that is known to exist. Thanks again to Chaplain Mike and Nestus Venter for sharing their archived files. The iMonk podcasts are just about the most popular posts I’ve ever put up with dozens of downloads every week. More than a decade later Michael’s insights continue to be sought after.