Wherein I lament the passing of one of the Christian Web’s greatest and most popular Websites.
One year ago I interviewed for a job at Gospel Communications. There was an opening for a training specialist and I happily made it through the various rounds of interviews and reference checks. In the end, I was invited to Muskegon to visit the offices of GospelCom in order to give a trial-run 15-minute presentation to Brian Atkinson and his team of intrepid Web wonks. There were two other applicants before me, also giving presentations, showing their mad training skills. I didn’t get the job.
At first I was both disappointed and pleased. I did a fair enough job with my presentation that I was invited (and paid!) to give a followup, expanded presentation at last year’s Internet Ministry conference (“Relationship Blogging” and “Integrity on the Internet“). That was great fun. But, still, I didn’t land the gig, and I would’ve been happy to: GospelCom has been a great organization, and ever since I visited their offices for the first time back in the late 90′s I’ve been impressed with how effectively they dominated the Christian ministry hosting space and totally ruled the online Bible application concept.
But now, I’m filled with a different mixture of disappointment and relief. GospelCom is closing it’s online doors. For purely selfish reasons, I am relieved: Had I landed that job I would once again be looking for work.
I am not sure whether GospelCom was the first one to put the full Bible online, but it was certainly the first to do so in a way that made sense. The text was fully searchable, it was fast, it provided relevant links to broader scriptural context, they linked verses with audio clips, they had a mind-boggling array of translations, and I think they were the first to get permission to put the massively popular New International Version (NIV) of the Bible online. Even now, I think they might be the only one to host Today’s New International Version (TNIV) as well. It has been a Godsend and a great boon to Bible students and believers everywhere. Others have imitated it, but nobody has ever come close to improving on it, much less surpassing it.
All of that is coming to a close. It’s the end of an era. Or at least it feels that way.
I’m surprised I haven’t seen this announced online anywhere. I searched fruitlessly for it today, but haven’t seen it. This, despite the front page announcement I read in last Friday’s Muskegon Chronicle:
As far as I can tell, and from whatever scuttlebutt I’ve heard, Gospel Communications itself is not closing, but that remains to be seen. At the very least, the Internet portion of GospelCom will be going away.
Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that my GospelCom social networking contacts have quietly been updating their online resumÃ©s and some of them have already listed new jobs as their current place of employment. Former coworkers of mine have related that some Bible Societies (likely the International Bible Society, copyright holder for the NIV and TNIV) have been bidding to purchase the Bible Gateway to keep it alive in one form or another. There will likely be big news to announce on this front in the next few weeks when the secret corporate handshakes are all done.
Let’s hope and pray that our hard-laboring brothers and sisters at GospelCom land on their feet. Michigan’s economy is in the tanks right now and it will take miracles for these capable people to find jobs quickly.
[tags]bible, bible-gateway, blogrodent, brian-atkinson, brian-melles, gospel-communications, gospel-films, gospelcom, ibs, interactive-bible, international-bible-society, internet-ministry, logos-research-systems, logos-software, michigan, muskegin-michigan, muskegon, new-international-version, niv, online-bible, online-bibles, rich-tatum, sad-day, searchable-bible, social-networking, the-internet-ministry-conference, tniv, today’s-new-international-version, training, web-hosting, zondervan[/tags]