A Brief History
On or around the 25th of January, 2007, I had a meeting with my pastor about a class that I was taking at Northwest University in Kirkland, WA. The class was Pastoral Ministries Internship II, and the professor was determined to "extract at least a pound of flesh" from each of the eight or so students in the class. Many of us in the class were already involved in full time ministry, yet we would be required to set aside our main ministry duties for a semester and focus on creating something new.
During that meeting my pastor and I discussed the church's website and the need for accessible devotionals that would inspire the church to read and study the Bible with regularity. About three years ago, I toyed with the idea of user-submitted devotionals for my youth group, but that didn't really work out. I was too embarrassed to post anything personally, and no one else posted anything either.
As my pastor was describing a place online where we could maintain a repository of devotionals, something clicked. Though I may not write a 4-5 page insightful, commentary-worthy, devotional every time I sit down to read my Bible, I'm always underlining things and scribbling in the margins. Sometimes these notes can be just as valuable as full-fledged "devotionals." I'm not saying that to discount the scholarly work that goes into some devotionals. I personally place a high value on biblical scholarship, but they both point back to the Scriptures. Additionally, within a church at a specific place, and in a specific time, two people might be facing the exact same issues, and seeking answers in the same place. Without a place to record one's spiritual journey through the Scriptures, these people may never realize any of this, and they could miss the comfort afforded by knowing that they are both trusting God in the same situation. I pitched the idea of a "shared margin note system" the next time I saw my pastor, and BibleShared was born.
Initially it was going to be called "Shared Margins." However, I ditched that name because it did not mention the Bible, and could be confusing as to what the site did. "Single Word" was also considered, but again this wasn't clear enough (though I did end up naming the youth group SingλeWord Ministries in reference to a single absolute truth revealed in Jesus). The final choice was BibleShared.com which I promptly registered at my favorite registrar.
I immediately sought out a Bible text to use. My first choice was the NLT because of its fluid language and use among the millennial generation (who would be the most likely to use an online devotional as opposed to a book-based devotional). Unfortunately Tyndale, the publisher that distributes the NLT, does not take kindly to their text being used on the Internet. The next choice was the NASB. I submitted a formal copyright request, but gave up after not hearing back in a timely manner. In the meantime I used the King James Version so that a text could be in place to test the features of the site.
On June 15th, I received one of the greatest surprises of my life -- Permission to quote the NASB on the Internet without having to pay royalties. Since BibleShared.com operates on a budget of very near $0, this is exactly what was needed. I thanked God, and also Lockman's VP of Operations, profusely.
After a bit of tweaking, and many long nights, BibleShared.com was poised for launch at the church I minister to (Abundant Life Christian Fellowship) and ready for launch at churches/schools around the world.
BibleShared.com does not exist as an organization, or a legal entity in any form. It's a loosely coupled group of people who volunteer time on an occasional basis to help make the site a reality. As such there are few even on this list who would claim to represent BibleShared.com in any official manner. They are included despite this fact to recognize their individual contributions to the site.
- Rev. Nick Hauenstein nick.hauenstein- Software Architect
- Katie Hauenstein pinkflamingonewsgirl - Editor
- Jacob Fogg jacobfogg - Software Tester
- Lynnette Bonner lynnette - Usability Tester
- Rev. Martin C. Bonner pastormarty - Usability Tester
- Dan Custer DanCuster - Usability Tester
Special thanks to...
- Lynnette Bonner lynnette for submiting a lot of bug reports
- Rev. Martin C. Bonner pastormarty for keeping me accountable on working on the site at first, and for suggesting prayer lists
- Dan Custer DanCuster for submiting a lot of bug reports, and for suggesting email reminders
- Jacob Fogg jacobfogg for helping when SQL isn't, and for suggesting Bible reading plans
- Katie Hauenstein pinkflamingonewsgirl for proof-reading almost every word I write and consulting me on the design of the site
- Matt Key mattio79 for being available to break things
- Twinkle Mom twinklemom for suggesting widgets
- Michael Utz theutz for testing RSS feeds, and for inspiration
- God, for everything.