What a week. I’ve never been part of something this big before, and I must say, it was a huge honor to have contributed, in my own small way, to the ABC/Nightline Satan Debate that took place at Mars Hill Church over a week ago.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on the events of the past week and a half, and catch everyone up who missed out when it was happening. On Friday, March 20th, I went to the taping of the ABC/Nightline debate on the existence of Satan, hosted at Mars Hill Church. I live tweeted the entire debate and found, to my surprise, that people from all over the world were following my tweets. You can see all my live tweets in their original form here. Since ABC wasn’t going to air the debate until this past Thursday, the 26th, I posted my notes online on this blog. If you missed my post last Monday, you can still read it here.
What I didn’t expect was how many people were going to read the blog version of my tweets. I’d reposted the entire tweetscript on my blog, but I removed all the Twitter lingo and made it more readable. I let the Twitter universe know about it, and people started e-mailing it around. Then, Josh Harris, pastor of Covenant Life Church in the Washington, D.C. area quoted me extensively in his blog and linked to my post. He’s famous for writing I Kissed Dating Goodbye and for taking over for C.J. Mahaney at Sovereign Grace Ministries. I watched my stats climb by the hundreds each hour, and I was fielding e-mails and comments every couple minutes.
Next, a site called SharperIron picked up the post. I’d never heard of them before, but apparently, they have a huge readership, because soon, they were sending a lot of people over to my blog. From there, I got a lot of smaller bloggers who read those major blogs, re-cycling the information and linking to me. That movement was exponential, and I still continue to get a lot of those each day.
And just when I thought my live tweeting was getting obsolete because the full version of the debate was posted online by ABC, Justin Taylor, editor at Crossway books for none other than John Piper decided to link to me as well. I think he gets the record for sending me the most traffic through his Between Two Worlds Blog.
On the home front, the Seattle Post Intelligencer news service linked to me in their blog, and even linked to the tweet stream, which was a nice bonus. I’ve been getting some unique traffic from that source, and I welcome it. It’s not the typical Christ followers who are sent from those other sites, so it gives me a chance to engage a totally different audience, especially in the comments section.
The most welcome surprise of all was when Pastor Mark Driscoll stopped by to leave a comment and thank me for my role in this. What an honor! That guy is one of the busiest people I know, so I’m touched that he used his time to do that.
On Thursday night, the TV version finally aired. You can still see it online at the Nightline site. It’s in three parts: part 1, part 2, & part 3. Those of you who don’t want to watch the hour plus version that’s online of the full debate can watch this mini-version, but I suggest you also read my tweetscript to get some of the parts you missed, especially Pastor Mark’s closing statement.
I don’t envy the editors’ job, to cut all that footage down to 20 minutes, even less if you add in all the extra behind the scenes takes and the announcer’s initial commentary. What remained was amazingly coherent, even if it didn’t represent the entire debate. I’m glad that Jesus got lots of airtime, courtesy of Pastor Mark and Annie Lobert. Pastor Mark’s strategy to mention Jesus as much as possible seem to have paid off. However, the editors did chop Pastor Mark’s use of scripture, which spoke for itself and made its own arguments. I wish they would have allowed that to remain. The Mars Hill Blog did post Pastor Mark’s final argument, if you’re interested in watching that part here.
I also think that Chopra got more than his fair share of airtime. This might be partially due to his pithy sayings. They made for great sound bytes, as incoherent as they were. In fact, Pearson dominated the full discussion with his dialogue, not intellectually but with sheer volume. By trimming down his statements to the ones that made the most sense, they made Pearson seem a lot more thoughtful and in control, as opposed to the rambler who was spouting off information about menstrual cycles. Also, by limiting his attack on Lobert, he seemed a lot nicer. However, his final, heartless statement after the debate, about Lobert being young and a prostitute, dismissing her ability to think rationally because of this, was just as bad.
Overall, I’m thankful that Pastor Mark got the opportunity to participate in the debate and that Mars Hill Church could host it. I heard so many people in the audience commenting on how nice the church was and how great it was to be there. These were people who were New Agers, people who don’t have a good relationship with churches in general. But we also got to invite the country in via ABC’s broadcast. Regardless of whether or not you think the debate topic was silly or the people who were invited were the best choices to debate it, the opportunity to talk about Jesus in such a public forum was well worth it.
It also sounds like the Mars Hill Church website got record traffic this past week. I’m sure it had something to do with the ABC Satan Debate. We got record attendance at the church last Sunday, and this Sunday seemed to have also been setting new records, especially at the Ballard campus, where the debate was hosted.
Thanks to everybody who has been recommending my post and tweets and for those of you who tuned into the debate. And of course, thanks Pastor Mark and Annie Lobert for being willing to share the gospel on network TV, against some difficult opponents. I pray that the debate continues to spark an interest in people who might never have considered Jesus before.
Oh, and just when I thought everything might be winding down, including my blog stats, WordPress, my blog’s host, informed me that I was their 38th top blog of the day on Saturday. This is nuts!