2016: A Year in Review

At the end of 2016, the December Monthly Review included a short annual review which focused on the statistical analysis rather than events. At the time a WordPress/JetPack Annual Report was not available and so this review was postponed. This review, whilst some 5+ months late, nevertheless aims to ensure completeness for Future Directions: Thoughts from a Decade Ago…

A Year of Blogging

The structure of this review section is developed based on the style of the previous WordPress/JetPack Annual Reports: 20142015.

Punt Road Oval, located at the intersection of Punt Road with Burton Avenue, has a modern day capacity of 6,000. XBOP accumulated a total of 12,813 views for 2016, which is basically filling that venue to capacity twice over… The Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park has a capacity of 15,000 so, you could also use the comparison that a near-capacity crowd watching a tennis final would be the equivalent of all the views this website has achieved for the calendar year.

With almost 7,800 visitors, an appropriate analogy for allowing comparison and putting things into perspective is the modern day Waverley Park complex, which has a capacity of 8,000 including the remaining spectator stand which can hold 2,000 people. Imagine the Waverley Park complex completely filled with people and that’s how many people visited XBOP in 2016.

The top post for 2016 was an existing article My 10 Favourite Worship Songs of the 1970s – 1980s. With an average of 182 views/month, this post recorded twice as many views compared to 2015 (1095 vs 2184). When excluding existing content, it was my posting New Chadstone + Lego = Excitement! which gained the top position for most popular/viewed article of 2016. Considering that it was published in mid to late September, the three plus months of airtime that it received makes it a great accomplishment with just over 500 views. This article reflects the XBOP desire to remain relevant and up-to-date with the happenings around Melbourne.

Being a local writer/blogger is an undeniable part of the XBOP identity. Other popular content at XBOP for the year reflects this local identity and demand: the close connection to my home church Clayton Church of Christ, plus my timely commentary written up on the Burke Rd Level Crossing removal.

In total, 142 new posts were published, which improved significantly on the 106 posts from 2015. The first half of the year saw a slight dip whereas the trend since July was clearly upward and growing strongly. July was the busiest month, with 21 articles published, whereas the low point was November with three.

2016: Real Life Happenings

Every year, I have redefined my understanding of what it means to be “busy”. The following list is the 2016 definition of busy, which arguably is testament to just how busy my life has been, notwithstanding the challenge of maintaining XBOP as a blog.

  • Brickvention (January)
  • Australian Open season (January)
  • Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip to Cambodia (February)
  • Easter (March)
  • Good Friday Appeal (March)
  • ANZAC Day Memorial Walk (April)
  • Higher Than I, Church Album Launch (May)
  • Dating (May)
  • Sound of Music (musical, May)
  • Long Weekend in Sydney (June)
  • My birthday celebrations (June)
  • Federal Election (July)
  • Operation Christmas Child Packing Party/Launch (July)
  • Friends’ wedding (July)
  • Clayton Church 40 Days of Community (August – September)
  • Fortnight holiday in Singapore & Kuching (August)
  • Father’s Day (September)
  • Engage Camp @ Phillip Island Adventure Resort (October)
  • Melbourne Cup (November)
  • Church Annual Report publication (November)
  • Operation Christmas Child season (November)
  • My Friends training (November onward)
  • Girlfriend’s Graduation (November)
  • Timothy Group (December onward)
  • Girlfriend’s Birthday (December)
  • Carols by Candlelight @ Jell’s Park (December)
  • Christmas in Melbourne (December)
  • New Year’s with Family in Sydney (December)

Now, when you review the above list, some of the events mentioned appear on XBOP but a good proportion also do not. This in itself reflects the fact that there has been so much happening in my life that not everything ends up the subject on my online blogging. Majority of the my dating experiences also continue to remain out of scope for XBOP discussion and rightly so.

In the 12 calendar months of 2016, I flew four times, twice interstate and twice overseas, and spent time in Singapore, Malaysia & Cambodia. When you include the December 2015 family cruise, the thirteen month period added a third overseas holiday with the addition of the South Pacific to the list of visited destinations. Adding in the first two months of 2017 and I can add a third interstate holiday which makes for a total of 6 trips in a 15-month period!

2016 can be viewed through many lenses. The initial view and helped me compile the core list was simply events and holidays, some of which coincide with the various public holidays and seasons of the year. This approach also overlaps with taking the Clayton Church perspective given the high level of influence and impact.

2016: Spiritual Development

When I reflect on 2016 from a spiritual growth journey, key themes on discipleship have been prominent. In many ways my journey is both an outcome and also a driver on those around me, within the community of faith that I call my home church of Clayton Church. Whilst a number of dramas have played out before my eyes in the last two years, I remain focused on my identity and relationship with God. That relationship has deepened over the years to the extent that my reliance on Him as my source of love, joy, pace, strength and patience manifests and permeates my life through and through. If, back in 2014-2015 I had already claimed God as the rock of my faith on which I stood firm, then now in 2016-2017 He has indeed been my tower of refuge and shelter from the storms that have manifest. God remains my core principle relationship that I pursue, even nowadays during this season of dating. That God is the key pillar on which both my girlfriend and I rely on and unites us, we ensure that our relationship is in deed built on the solid rock of Jesus. Being able to serve Him and extend His Kingdom here on earth together enriches our relationship.

It is a privilege to be able to say that I can have faith on behalf of others. It is for God’s glory and honour, not my own, that He holds us all in the palm of His hands. Ensuring that the Bible, as the Word of God, is not just an academic or theoretical understanding, but is alive and applied in my every-day life echos the sentiments of Clayton Church’s relaunched vision:

To build disciples who represent Jesus to everyone, everywhere with everything.

When I think back on the year 2016 in terms of worship, Elevation Church is definitely rising in influence within the Christian community. With ballads like Resurrecting and O Come to the Altar released during the year, Elevation adds to the blend of worship alongside Hillsong (What A Beautiful Name It Is) and Bethel Church. Higher Than I, as Clayton Church’s home-grown album also has been a influence which first began in 2015, and so is not strictly speaking a 2016 influence.