Church Online: Websites

Whenever I visit another church I normally look at their website beforehand to find out various things about that church. These include the time of the service, what type of service I will be attending and a general idea of what the church is like.

Therefore, for me it’s important that a church website is accurate and displaying correct information. However, having been a webmaster of a church website, I know that it can be a challenging job and you are dependent upon others passing information onto you to keep the website updated.

I have recently read a book called “Church Online: Websites” by Laura Treneer which I found to be a very useful resource. This book is published by BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) and is one of four books that form part of their Reach Out Church Communications series.

There are four chapters in Church Online Websites which cover:

  • Why it matters
  • What to consider first
  • Essential next steps
  • Toolkit

The author provides some very useful advice which can be used by those looking to transform their websites or perhaps looking to create one for the first time. Anyone who might feel daunted at the prospect of becoming a church webmaster for the first time will find this book very beneficial. Those who are experienced in this area will also gain from reading this book too.

Although “Church Online: Websites“ is only a short book it is packed full of helpful tips, resource links and ideas. I would strongly recommend this book and if you put the ideas it contains into practice your website will be enhanced.

Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey

Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey is a 65 minute long documentary about the famous evangelist written and directed by Vonda Harrell and Daniel Camenisch.

The documentary features many clips of Billy Graham preaching throughout his ministry in different places in the world, as he passionately challenges people to come to Christ. Billy Graham did not just preach when at meetings though. We see some of his appearances on chat shows and he never missed an opportunity to share the truths of the gospel when he was a guest.

There are many interviews with Billy Graham, at different stages of his life, in the documentary and among the subjects that are covered in these were: his conversion to Christ, the calling to be an evangelist, how he met and married his wife Ruth, and the challenges he faced early in his ministry as he wrestled with the bible being reliable and true.

Additionally, there are interviews featuring his mother, his wife Ruth, his children, friends and chat show host Larry King, all of these adding helpful insights into the man. Tributes are also included from ex-presidents Ronald Reagan, George W Bush and Bill Clinton.

Although Billy Graham is generally known as a passionate evangelist he also made a stand against racial segregation. The documentary covers his refusal to segregate his meetings in the Deep South and his refusal to preach in South Africa due to apartheid.

It’s impossible for someone as prominent as Billy Graham not to encounter controversial at same stage of his life and ministry. The documentary makers to their credit included the negative comments he received when he went behind the Iron Curtain and attended a peace conference in Russia. Whilst some people in America felt he was being used for propaganda purposes he saw it as an opportunity to preach the gospel. There is also some interesting footage of him preaching to an audience in Pyongyang, North Korea.

As well as being very informative, the documentation is both encouraging and moving as we see how a normal man who responded to the call of God was used by God in an extraordinary way.

Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey is currently available to watch on Netflix and the dvd can be purchased from Amazon. There is also an official trailer on YouTube

I highly recommend Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey.

Reviving the Soul

In Psalm 19v7 there is a wonderful statement by David:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”

I’m not sure about you but so often my soul needs reviving. At the end of a stressful day at work or an exhausting and busy week I certainly need to be revived. Yet to be honest I don’t always turn to God’s word for revival. There are occasions when instead of doing this I turn to earthly things e.g. leisure activities, food, sport, TV, social media etc. Whilst none of those are necessary wrong in themselves, they will not bring revival to the soul.

This is because those things are not God’s word. They may be enjoyable past times and activities, but they do not revive us. Instead of turning to them we should turn to God’s word. We regularly need to read the scriptures, study them and meditate on them. It’s important that we set aside time each day to do this.

If we neglect these disciplines, then we miss opportunities to experience a revived soul. Some people also find it helpful to have a bible verse in their mind for them to ponder as they prepare to go to sleep each night. It’s a good way to finish the day.

If you ever read anything about the persecuted Church, you will see their love for the bible. In many of these countries a person can get into severe trouble for owning a bible. When they receive a bible, they are so grateful and full of excitement. Conversely, many of us in the west have numerous different translations of the bible at home, not to mention the ones on our phones! Yet we often rarely read them.

Let us not neglect the scriptures but instead know the reality of this wonderful phrase in Psalm 19v7:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.

Continue reading “Reviving the Soul”

Run to Glory – the story of Eric Liddell

Run to Glory by Ellen Caughey tells the fascinating life story of Eric Liddell, Olympic gold medallist in the 400 metres at the 1924 Paris Olympics. This feat was of course immortalised in the award winning film “Chariots of Fire”.

The book however paints a much broader picture of Eric Liddell, the athlete and evangelist. It describes how Eric turned his back on athletics to respond to God’s call. The book details some of the trials and triumphs of working as an evangelist amongst the poor rural communities in China. In this setting “Uncle Eric” as he is known is recognised as much for his work amongst the local children as for his prowess on the athletic track.

Eric Liddell can truly be said to have “ran the race that was set before him” but, in doing so, he turned his back on the fame and adulation that he had known as an athlete. This short book is certainly worth reading and raises the perennial question of what might we be prepared to “give up” in order to respond obediently to God’s call on our life?

Who is Jesus?

Our church is currently doing a course called “Christianity Explored” which is based on the gospel of Mark. During this course we have discovered that Mark is really asking a question in the first half of his gospel: Who is Jesus?

Jesus himself asked his disciples: “Who do you say I am?” and Peter responded to this question by saying “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29).

One of the things that has struck me as we have read through Mark is the number of miraculous signs and healings that Jesus did. The following are all recorded in Mark’s gospel before Jesus asked his disciples the “Who do you say I am?” question:

  • Driving out an impure spirit (Mark 1: 21-28)
  • Healing Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31)
  • Healings and driving out of demons (Mark 1:32-33)
  • Healing a man with leprosy (Mark 1:40 – 45)
  • Forgiving and healing a paralysed man (Mark 2:1-12)
  • Healing a man with a shrivelled hand (Mark 3:1-6)
  • Healings and driving out of demons (Mark 3:10-11)
  • Calming of the storm (Mark 4:35-41)
  • Healing and restoring a demon possessed man (Mark 5:1-18)
  • Raising a dead girl and healing a sick woman (Mark 5:21-43)
  • Healings (Mark 6:5)
  • Feeding the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44)
  • Walking on water (Mark 6:45-52)
  • Healings (Mark 6:55-56)
  • Driving out of a demon (Mark 7: 24-30)
  • Healing a deaf and mute man (Mark 7:31-37)
  • Feeding the four thousand (Mark 8:1-9)
  • Healing a blind man (Mark 8:22-26)

It’s amazing when you consider all those wonderful miraculous acts that Jesus performed in the first half of Mark’s gospel. For Peter there was no other way to respond to the question: “Who do you say I am?” than to declare that Jesus was the Messiah.

I wonder if we perhaps are sometimes guilty of losing the amazement of what Jesus did due to the familiarity of the gospel readings to us? When we ponder the wonderful works that Jesus did let us allow ourselves to be amazed at what he did.

Also, like Peter let us answer confidently and boldly the question: Who is Jesus?

 

Church Online: Social Media

People have different attitudes towards social media. Some love it, whilst others hate it. There are those who feel indifferent towards it and others who are baffled to understand its popularity. However you might feel about social media we cannot fail to notice the influence it has on people, both good and bad.

Therefore, the church cannot ignore social media, as that is where many people spend a lot of their time.  Instead the church must learn to engage with it. For some though that is a scary thought and they do not know where or how to begin. If that describes you then the book “Church Online: Social Media” by Laura Treneer may be a useful resource.

This book is published by BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) and is one of four books that form part of the Reach Out Church Communications series.

There are four chapters in Church Online Social Media which cover:

  • Why it matters
  • What to consider first
  • Essential next steps
  • Toolkit

The author raises some important questions in her book that churches need to ask themselves when they are looking to start a new social media venture. These questions include:

  • What is our current reality?
  • What is the core message that we are communicating?
  • Who is our focus – Who is this really for?

For those who are totally new to social media there is a very useful section in the Essential next steps chapter about choosing your tools. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn are all included in this section with a brief description on each which covers:

  • That’s the one where – this is a brief description of each one.
  • Seems to be particularly popular with – this describes the demographic group that use each one mostly
  • Churches could use it for – provides ideas of how churches use each one.
  • And if you want to go further – sets some ideas and projects that your church could do with each one.

The author also provides some good tips on planning your social media year, finding the right team in your church to engage in social media and ideas for posts.

Whether you are completely new to social media or a seasoned user, you will find this book an excellent resource. Although it is only a small book, less than 100 pages long, it is packed with so much useful information. It’s certainly one that can be read a number of times and I would strongly recommend it.

In closing I want to quote from page 66 of the book which says “We don’t do it for the likes. We do it for the love of God.” Something for all Christians to ponder who engage in social media.

A New Day

My alarm clock goes off. I switch the alarm off and get out of bed, a new day has begun.

After walking downstairs I switch on the BBC News and make myself breakfast. Some people never eat breakfast. I’m the opposite I never miss breakfast!

It’s time to head back upstairs and shower. I then go into the spare room and read my bible and pray. A new day is here and it’s important that at the start of this day I spend time with God. I need to feed my soul and prepare prayerfully for the day ahead. There are of course other people and situations that I need to pray about too.

This new day is important because it is a fresh opportunity to serve and know God. What happened yesterday has past. There is nothing I can do to turn the clock back to yesterday. I must leave my yesterdays in God’s hand. The good yesterdays and the bad yesterdays. Those days are gone. It’s now a new day.

I do not know what is going to happen on this new day. Perhaps if I did I might stay in bed instead! However, I can approach the new day with confident because it’s a fresh start with God. I know that God’s compassion, mercies and faithfulness are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Therefore, this morning I can rest in these wonderful promises from God.

It’s a new day. It’s not just another dreary boring day. Whether I have a difficult meeting at work today or a quiet day planned, this new day is one in which I can shine for Christ. I have fresh opportunities to be salt and light in this world. The question is will I make the most of this new day?