After 578 days of this site going live, and 1.58 million pageviews from 483,000 unique visitors, this is the 1,000th story to be published on Thir.st.

This old man had a dream, and somehow, a bunch of young folk around me caught the vision.

The vision was simple: A digital platform for a digital generation, generating content spanning digital discipleship and outreach. We wanted to transform a generation, one story at a time.

So we started with … one story (this was the first article we hit “publish” on, if you’re curious). Then another, and another, and another. Until one day, an editor here peeped out from over his monitor and said: Hey, we’re at 999.

 

The stories we’ve published have spanned the expected: Work, studies, dating. Our relationships category typically does far better than every other section, if you were wondering.

But we’ve been intentional about talking about those things that sometimes it’s difficult for a church leader to address. Depression. Suicide. Loneliness. Bullying. #metoo. Lust. Same sex attraction.

 

Along the way, we’ve stumbled upon a couple of things that work, and a lot of things that don’t. Some triumphs, more mistakes, all lessons. So we figured, on this occasion where we’ve hit 4-figures’ worth of stories, here are 4 things we’ve learnt over the years so you don’t have to figure them out yourselves should you decide to go down the same road as we did.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNT OVER 1,000 STORIES

1. LET A GENERATION SPEAK TO A GENERATION

These days we use the word Godsend pretty flippantly –  but I think the word applies when I talk about the team behind Thir.st. They are pretty awesome.
More than that, they are young. The majority of the work you see produced on Thir.st each day is likely produced by an intern or a fresh graduate. Virtually all are under the age of 30, many under 25. For most, this is their first job.

 

Some older folk give me that look when they find out about the age of my staff, usually followed by: “So what’s it like working with so many millennials?” You know what they’re asking.

But there’s a reason we’ve intentionally put together a team this young: We’re big believers that a generation wants to hear from those of the same generation. It’s entrenched in our tagline: Honest conversations.

We’ve come to realise that on some topics, nothing beats hearing it from a peer, someone like you who knows exactly what it’s like to be someone your age, figuring out school/NS/work/life. We get your tears. Been there, maybe still figuring it out ourselves. Maybe we can figure this out together.

(This is not to discount the need for the wisdom of the ages, nor that of experienced leadership. We believe our readers who happen to be Christian should be getting all that from your church. And, please – obey your parents!)

2. SPIRITUAL WARFARE: #THESTRUGGLEISREAL

1,000 stories have been published, but 10,000 backstories have paved that path. Not all have had a happy ending.

Stories that got canned. Logistics gone awry. Occasional disagreements.

None of this should come as a surprise; it comes with the territory. We are in the business of life transformation; we’d be naive to imagine there wouldn’t be obstacles to this. The key is how to deal with it, move on, get better, grow stronger.

At the heart of our defence: Praise and prayer, worship and intercession. We pray daily as a team, and at least once a week come together to worship. And every now and then, we’ve invited all of you to join us.

 

We’d deeply appreciate it if, every now and then, should you ever benefit from a Thir.st article or video, you pause to offer up a prayer for those who work each day to get such content into your social media feed. This is everyone’s battle.

3. BY THE KINGDOM, FOR THE KINGDOM

I’m sure you did the math – 1,000 stories in 578 days is nearing two articles every day. Spot on – this team publishes, on average, two new stories a day.

How do we do it? Very simple: We don’t. We just produce one new story a day. On average, only half or less of the stories we put out has a Thir.st byline on it – what we classify as stuff we Create.

The remaining half+ of our stories are either Curated or Contributed. Curated means it’s republished with permission from existing material elsewhere – perhaps a book excerpt, or published by our good friends at Selah or YMI. The rest of the content is contributed by readers, volunteers, friends, pastors. The #thirsttribe.

This is intentional. We don’t have all the wisdom or spiritual knowledge. But maybe the kingdom as a collective does.

4. THE CHURCH IS BIGGER THAN MY CHURCH

For the same reason, the Thir.st staff is built out of a variety of denominations. At one point, eight different churches were represented in the team.

I mean, what’s the fun in having an echo chamber of same-same views? It wouldn’t be much of a conversation.

That’s what we mean by Thir.st being by the kingdom. So that what we do for the kingdom covers the spectrum of belief, doctrine and practices – so that we are a body defined not by what divides us, but marked by what unites us.

Christ loved the church, the one church – and so do we.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE NEXT 1,000 STORIES?

In the pipeline are a site refresh, and some fresh editorial ideas. We think we can do a lot better on engagement and conversations. We’re eager to do what we do in Chinese too, and we think country-specific versions of Thir.st – written in the local language, centred on local life – will go down well. (If you think you have what it takes to make either of these dreams happen, email me!)

But apart from all that, what’s next? The truth is, we’re hoping that you’ll tell us.

What’s next? The truth is, we’re hoping that you’ll tell us.

What would you like to see more of on Thir.st? What would you like to see less of? What topics would you like us to cover? What new storytelling method do you think would really help us up our game?

How would you like your content delivered? Is there some platform that you really want to see us on? Are we missing out on a social media or messaging network?
If you’ve got suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below, or email us at [email protected].

Or do you feel you have a part to play in the next leg of the Thir.st journey? This website is built on the service and kindness of volunteers and contributors. Some write, some help us produce videos, some code, some just make it a point to share our stories often – it’s all good. Again, email us if you want to chip in in some way.

After 578 days and 1,000 stories, I’ve learnt that the digital community we’re trying to build – that’s you! – are really the ones who are building Thir.st. So thank you. For reading, watching, commenting, liking, sharing. For writing, coding, chipping in. For being gentle when we mess up, and being supportive when we get something right.

There’s a long way to go – but we’re humbled to recognise that we’ve come a long way thus far.

To God be the glory.