For a couple of years now I've been seeing our Gomer family slowly slide off the radar. Interest has certainly fallen off since our heyday of 2002-2006. Used to be, I'd see 20-100+ Gomer shirts at any Third Day show. I could pick them out all along the front row, in the floor seats, and all the way up to the rafters. But now, there may be one or two at a show. Used to be, when I was introduced as "Mama Gomer" people would know instantly that that meant I was the mama to the Third Day fan family. They would say, "Oh! I'm a Gomer, too!" Now people look quizzically at me and say, "Okaaaayyyy" sort of wondering if they missed something in the conversation. Even TobyMac said to a group of Gomers recently, "Didn't ya'll used to be called the Gomers or something?" The Gomers seem to be fading.
We started the Gomers in 2001, almost a year after Offerings: A Worship Album was released. Third Day was pretty well established, and just about to become the super-group they are today. We felt we should support them, and tell everyone about them. We felt we should help them along as much as was in our power. Not sure they actually needed any help, but we felt that need to do it. And we still do, but it has become so natural now, that we don't need to get a street team together, or try to get people to do promote Third Day. There are thousands of Third Day fans promoting the band every day, whether they try to or not.
The other reason for starting the Gomers was that those of us who frequented the boards truly loved one another. I felt (or rather God nudged me) that we needed a name, an identity that would make us a family. So Gomer became our last name. We were bound by our love of God, Third Day, and each other. It started as the just board members and reached out to embrace Third Day fans everywhere.
But Gomers don't gather like they used to, not online and not in general "come one, come all" gatherings at concerts. One reason is that the old Third Day message boards, the home of the Gomers, were not as populous as they once were. Technology changes. People move on. A lot of people find it more fulfilling to spend their time on Twitter and Facebook where they can not only talk to their Gomer friends, but also keep up with family members, neighbors, church friends, kids away at college, and even long lost school friends.
Once it really got going, I envisioned the Gomers becoming much like Jimmy Buffet's Parrot Heads. They not only meet for concerts; they also do amazing charity work world-wide. I prayed and tried, but always felt a halt in my spirit when I tried to move in that direction. I don't know why, but it's just not what God had in mind for us. I think we are what He wanted, a family who love and support each other and our band . . . His band.
But as I said, for the past couple of years, I've felt like the time for the Gomers was slowly winding down. Not that we all have to completely call it quits. There's still a remnant of us out there. We can still get together online, and still be happy that God gave us this amazing family. But we've been wearing the same shirt to Third Day concerts for going on ten years now. That's a long time, and no small life for a revolution of any kind. Not everything was meant to last forever. I think the Bible put it best in Ecclesiastes 3:1
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.
WIRED sort of replaced the Gomers. Third Day took the idea of the Gomers and tried to improve upon it and gave us WIRED. It not a community like the Gomers, but now everyone has a chance to hang out with the guys of Third Day. Since that was one of the goals of the Gomers, we love WIRED! But it seems like the time of the fan-run, CCM fan families is coming to an end. I think the paid band-sponsored fan clubs are replacing them. Some bands, like Skillet, have even adapted the fan-started family name into their paid fan clubs. So they live on, but in a different form, and with more benefits.
Tai Anderson and I had a long talk about the future of the Gomers after the Make A Difference Tour show in Austin, Texas, a couple of weeks ago. We talked about how the Gomers were dwindling in numbers and interest (not in Third Day, but in being Gomers). We talked about how it's time for the Gomers to evolve to the next incarnation of Third Day fans, and that would be Third Day Connect. (Maybe we can be "Connectors" now? ;-) )
The next morning, Tai blogged on the new Connect site, "Can Third Day Connect take the place of the Gomers?" He gave a nice nod to the Gomers and our history. In the last paragraph he says, "Our hope is that this new community can be our next step to foster Third Day online community. We've made great efforts to incorporate more content into the new ThirdDay.com, especially focused around live show content. We hope that the new tools we've put into place here, with easy Facebook integration, the ability to see where other Third Day fans are, etc. will bring you along for the next part of this journey."
Everything grows and changes, and when it's time, steps aside for something better. This week, the "something better" has come along. Third Day's new website is amazing, full of fantastic free content, and has the brand new Third Day Connect online community which has everything a Third Day fan could ever want! This is the place where we can gather as a family, Gomer or not. I think it will bring back the spirit of the Gomers and of the old boards in its most populated time, when we were all so addicted to them and communicating with one another.
So old things pass away, new things take their place. That's the way life goes. We are living beings; we grow and change. Third Day fandom is growing and changing. I, for one, am not going to miss a thing! I'm excited about this next step. We're MOVE-ing on up! (Pun intended.)
Make a Difference Tour, Austin, Texas, October 8, 2010
Me in the middle. Probably the last time I'll wear
my Gomer shirt.