Index by Subject

Technology and the Church

When I first became a full-time preacher, I had the privilege of getting to know an older preacher who was coming our way to hold a gospel meeting.

I called him to talk over his plans, settle on accommodations and find out if there was anything specific that he would need.

“Will you be using the overhead projector,” I innocently asked?

“No,” he retorted. “I won’t be putting on any picture show to entertain the brethren!”

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Advice to Preachers: Write!

I mentioned my intention earlier this year to write an occasional article on the subject of technology and preaching.  You may put this article in that category, though the tie-in is tangential at best.  I would like to spend a moment explaining why I believe it is important for preachers to write, as a means of teaching and personal growth.

I recently came across a memoir written by Warren E. Berkley, where he described his views of writing.  The quote comes as Warren describes his 40 years of work as a gospel preacher:

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Digitally Recording Sermons

We are living in the digital age.  Though some churches still offer audio recordings on analog cassette tape, most have gone to offering audio CD’s of sermons.  Other congregations offer audio recordings of the preaching done at their congregation over the internet, on the web sites they maintain.

The process for offering sermon audio is simple, and inexpensive.  For those who are not familiar with how it is done, may I offer some suggestions as a primer.

First, it is necessary to get the sermon audio into a digital format.  While there are more expensive (and intricate) ways of doing it, the simplest is a portable digital recorder.  For less than $100, one can be purchased that has stereo capabilities, and records in several different file formats.  The results are amazingly good, and are achieved simply by pressing record, and placing the recorder on the pulpit during the sermon or class.

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Preaching With The Pen

In the January 2010 issue of Watchman, I wrote an article titled, Projector Preaching.  It was the first in a series of articles intended to benefit those who preach the gospel.  The articles will contain suggestions and helps I have utilized in my 31 years of preaching the gospel.

Please understand that it is not my intent to set myself up as an authority on the matter of preaching.  I have some experience, and have greatly appreciated the advice and examples of men who have influenced me through the years.  I simply want to pass on some of what I have learned to those who may benefit.

It is my intent in this article to encourage preachers to write. I am convinced writing, (though among the most difficult of tasks for a preacher), is a wonderful discipline that will benefit both the preacher and his audience.  In this I include not only those who read his words, but others who will benefit from his increased discipline, ability and scholarship.

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Projector Preaching

I used to enjoy being complimented on being a "fine young preacher."  Brethren are so kind.  Unfortunately, they are also truthful, and I don’t hear that compliment any more.  In fact, haven’t for some time.  That is not, for course, because my preaching is no longer "fine," though I am acutely aware of my limitations.  Alas, no, the problem is that I am no longer young.

I began preaching almost on a weekly basis at the age of 16 for a small congregation in Monahans, TX.  Though I refuse to divulge my age, I have continued to preach for various congregations, without interruption for about 32 years.  (You do the math, it is too painful for me!)  Oh, alright, 48 years old in April.

The first bulletin I ever published as a local preacher, for the Third Street congregation in Tucumcari, NM, was produced on a mimeograph machine.  Two weeks later the elders graciously allowed me to go down to the local office supply to make copies (5 cents per) on the Xerox machine there.

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A Babbling Tower

In Genesis 11:1-9 we read the familiar story of the tower of Babel.  At this time in the history of man he was singular.  After the flood man had a single language and seemed to inhabit one particular area, in and around Shinar.  In Shinar man had the grand idea of establishing for himself a name.  He proposed to do this by building a city and a tower to the heavens.  Clark puts this event about 100 years after the flood and already we can see the folly of man as he again thinks of his works and ideas and seeks to establish a name unto himself.

Throughout the years of the history of man, his folly has been evident.  He has built cities, established governments, overthrown the same, and all the while professed to be gaining knowledge.  His search for knowledge is insatiable and while knowledge is a good thing it is also the bane of man’s existence as he has established by himself truths which are not.  In Acts 26:24 Festus cried out to Paul, “Paul, you are beside yourself!  Much learning is driving you mad!”  Unfortunately it is the same today.  As man increases in knowledge the madness for his own knowledge is ever increasing and wasteful and leads him to foolish conclusions.
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Electronic Preaching: Using Powerpoint

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article explaining my conversion to the use of an LCD projector as a means of supplementing my preaching with graphics displays.  At the time I was using Corel’s Presentations software, which is a very capable program, but not as widely used as Microsoft’s PowerPoint presentation software.

About three months ago I began using PowerPoint, and I am absolutely enthralled with the program.  Not only is it relatively easy to use, its printing and exporting capabilities make it a tremendous teaching asset.  Note the following features of the program, and the way I have been able to utilize the feature in my work:

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White Unto Harvest: The Internet and Bible Software

Boon for Foreign Workers

One thing that most foreign workers have had to do without is a goodly portion of their library. Those who have either worked in mission fields or visited brethren in such places know of the relatively small number of books most brethren can bring with them. Postage rates and other logistical considerations generally limit brethren to two or three shelves of books at most. Indeed, a good Bible student may find that his personal studies, class and sermon preparation suffer to a certain extent while in the mission field. Also, such a one finds himself without resources to which he has become accustomed when difficult questions arise in Bible studies with other people. The steady progress made in electronic media and data storage in recent decades has brought a marked change in this area.

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Electronic Preaching: Using a PDA

First things first… What is a PDA? The following definition is from Webopedia.com:

Short for personal digital assistant, a handheld device that combines computing, telephone/fax, and networking features. A typical PDA can function as a cellular phone, fax sender, and personal organizer. Unlike portable computers, most PDAs began as pen-based, using a stylus rather than a keyboard for input. This means that they also incorporated handwriting recognition features. Some PDAs can also react to voice input by using voice recognition technologies. PDAs of today are available in either a stylus or keyboard version.
The field of PDA was pioneered by Apple Computer, which introduced the Newton MessagePad in 1993. Shortly thereafter, several other manufacturers offered similar products. Today, one of the most popular brands of PDAs is the series of Palm Pilots from Palm, Inc.
PDAs are also called palmtops, hand-held computers and pocket computers.

For the organizationally impaired, (including yours truly), PDAs are wonderful devices. Used properly, the device can be wonderfully helpful to the busy preacher.

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Electronic Preaching: In Defense of the Computing Preacher

We have read a few criticisms of the computer in the work of the preacher recently and wish to accept the warning and issue our own.

Advertisements seeking new evangelists at various churches have stated that they do not want a man who will be trying to convert his machine or spending too much time at the keyboard. There seems to have developed the idea that the kingdom is being slighted when the preacher is on the Internet and his phone line is tied up. One wonders if the invention of the telephone itself brought similar controversy, but we digress.

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Electronic Preaching: Technology and Preaching

(Editor’s Note: The following short article appeared in the April-May-June issue of Think On These Things. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission. This monthly column is designed to assist the preacher in his efforts to spread the gospel. One way to be of help is to warn of abuses. I commend the article to you.)

Technological advances have changed just about every aspect of our lives, including our expectations. Everything must be faster and more exciting.

All this "technophilia" has had an effect on our hearing the gospel preached. Our attention spans have been stunted! If a preacher doesn’t have a colorful overhead transparency to "wow" his listeners, he is likely to "lose" his audience.

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Electronic Preaching: Learning New Testament Greek

In February of 1999 I reported to Watchman readers an internet site which taught New Testament Greek. While the site seems to be well designed, it is hosted by a sectarian organization which teaches error regarding the Scheme of Redemption.

Recently, brother Jeff Smelser wrote me to inform me of a site he hosts which teaches New Testament Greek. The site can be used without registering, or an individual can pay a tuition, and get personal instruction. The site seems to be well-designed, and comes highly recommended. Notice the following reviews: Continue reading » Electronic Preaching: Learning New Testament Greek

Electronic Preaching: How to Write on the Internet

The ongoing purpose of our “Electronic Preaching” feature is to assist preachers and other Christians in taking advantage of technology to spread the gospel of our Lord. The internet has afforded churches and preachers opportunity to spread the gospel of Christ through the written word. While there are technologies that exist which allow for audio and video, (and these will be utilized to a greater extent as broadband access to the internet becomes more common), the internet is for the most part a textual medium. It is also an affordable method of publishing, and accesses a potentially unlimited audience.

While Watchman Magazine is a publication primarily intended to be read by Christians, we have on the front page (top left corner) of our site an article entitled What is the Church of Christ?, which was written by Tom Roberts. This article has been read by many non-Christians, and has provoked many responses both negative and positive. It recently came to our attention that a Catholic site has linked to that article as an example of distortions regarding the history of Catholicism. Rather than the intended response, there have been several who have accessed the article from that Catholic site who have come away with a favorable impression of the Lord’s church, as it is contrasted with the institutions of men. One woman wrote: Continue reading » Electronic Preaching: How to Write on the Internet

Electronic Preaching: Creating a Web Presence

Electronic PreachingThe internet has an immense potential for the proclamation of truth throughout the world. As this column is presented from month to month, we will be addressing some of the ways an individual Christian or a congregation can utilize the internet for the purpose of preaching the gospel. But, first things first. Many know nothing about more about the internet than, “When the arrow turns into a hand, you can click your mouse and it will take you somewhere else!” For many, the idea of establishing a web site for the purpose of preaching the gospel is so far-fetched as to be unworthy of serious thought. This is unfortunate, because it is a rather simple and inexpensive process. Following is a list of FAQ’s (internet lingo for “Frequently Asked Questions”) which will help guide you through the process. If anything remains unclear, or you want more information, please feel free to write and ask. Continue reading » Electronic Preaching: Creating a Web Presence

Electronic Preacher: My New Toy – An LCD Projector

Electronic PreachingPreachers have for years utilized visual aids in the presentation of their lessons. Technological advances over the last 20 years have given preachers many options in the presentation of their sermons. A few short years ago, preachers were limited to slate boards and chalk, or bedsheet charts. While these were effective, they were limited and time consuming to prepare. Some preachers have and still do use slide projectors. However, this technology can be expensive and time consuming as well. You have to take pictures of your charts, develop the film, frame the slides, and color the slides with a magnifying glass and special paints. The overhead projector is much easier to utilize, but a problem arises as to how to prepare the transparencies. Some use a pen, and hand letter their charts. (I have seen some real ugly charts designed with this method). Perhaps you remember the dreaded “ThermoFax” machine. Long after the rest of the world had rejected it as outmoded technology, preachers were dealing with the hard to use and hard to protect thermal film it utilized. The computer has helped greatly with design, and inkjet printers are a wonderful tool. But, anyone who has printed up full color transparencies on their inkjet is aware of how costly the ink and transparencies are. At present, technology has presented us with a new tool (or as the members where I preach call it, a new toy!). It is the LCD Data projector, used in conjunction with the computer to project charts in a similar way to the overhead projectors with which we are so familiar. Far and away it is the most versatile and effective means of complimenting your sermon presentation with visual aids. With new technology comes growing pains. Some preachers misuse the technology, others are incompetent in their use of it, and from time to time you have members who are resistant to anything new. Continue reading » Electronic Preacher: My New Toy – An LCD Projector

Electronic Preaching: Taking Advantage of Technology

Electronic PreachingWith this issue of Watchman Magazine, we begin a new feature intended to help Christians (especially preachers) to both utilize the tremendous opportunities that technology supplies in preaching the gospel of Christ, and avoid the pitfalls that are associated with the same.

Consider the following positive aspects of Technology:

  • The computer can be used to assist in sermon preparation and the printing of bulletins and class material.
  • The computer can be used to assist in Bible study.
  • The computer can be used to assist in sermon presentation (Transparencies, data projectors, etc.)
  • Internet Web sites, containing audio, video, charts, and text can be established and maintained by churches for a very reasonable cost, and can be used in the proclamation of the gospel.
  • Email allows for instant communication, long distance Bible study, and sharing of computer files.
  • Discussion lists allow for group study, and the sharing of sermon outlines and class material.
  • Organizational software and PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistants) make it easier for a preacher to be organized and efficient.
  • Databases allow for the categorization of periodicals and books for instant recall of topics, authors, and scriptures for sermon preparation and study.
  • Because of technology, the preacher of righteousness has, in theory at least, a world-wide opportunity to disseminate truth. Continue reading » Electronic Preaching: Taking Advantage of Technology