The Portable Preacher
A guide to joining the podcasting revolution … without getting lost in the crowd.
Imagine if every pastor in America had his or her own radio show, and each episode of every show was archived and accessible with a single click of the mouse. Now imagine yourself in front of your computer trying to decide which of the 400,000 to listen to.
Welcome to the world of podcasting, where anyone with a microphone, some free software and an Internet connection can become a podcaster-an amateur radio-show host with content distributed via the Internet.
Of course, these numbers are fictional, but they may not remain fictional for long. In less than a year more than 5,000 podcast series have been developed, according to a report by Cliff Shaluta, associate professor of advertising at Western Kentucky University.
So, what exactly is a podcast? A podcast is a radio show consisting of a series of individual episodes that can be listened to on a PC, uploaded to an MP3 player or burned on a CD.
The beauty of podcasts is in the flexibility and control that listeners have over the “when” and “where” of the experience-think TiVo for radio programs.
Add to that an absolute cornucopia of choices-sports, comedy, movies, food, politics, music, books, speeches, walking tours, whatever-and you can easily see the power of this new media.
Listeners can tune in to one episode at a time or “subscribe” to an entire podcast series using free software. When you subscribe to a podcast, all new shows are automatically downloaded to your computer using the same technology that pushes blogs around the globe: RSS (Really Simple Syndication).
Along with its cousin, the blog, podcasting is revolutionizing the way we consume media. And for churches, ministries and individuals, that means opportunities heretofore unthinkable.
An audience of one suddenly has the opportunity to become an audience of 1 billion. The ubiquitous cassette-tape ministry has the potential of being replaced. But it isn't without its challenges.
Although faith-based podcasts are still few and far between, an overwhelming majority of those are Sunday-morning sermons offered by local churches.
Now, if putting your sermons online is an idea that scratches where you itch, there are lots of ways to get it done. For instance, www.SermonCasting.com will convert your audio sermons into podcasts for a flat rate of $25 per sermon.
Here's the challenge. While online sermons may be fine for those who want to “hear it again” or share it with friends and loved ones via the Web, it begs the question, Why would anyone else (e.g. the uninitiated to your church) want to tune in?
That's where pastors are facing the challenge of breaking free of the old “broad”-casting approach to communicating the gospel. Traditionally, sermons are delivered on a large variety of topics each week to a captive audience with at least one thing in common-the local community.
That model works for Sunday mornings, but the global community defies those boundaries. In a culture that prides itself on individualism, a broad, general approach to communication is often ineffective.
Instead, churches that hope to reach outside of their communities (i.e., podcasting and the like) are learning to think in terms of “narrow”-casting: Reaching niche markets with highly differentiated and surgically strategic content. That's where the power of podcasting rests.
So, if you are thinking of starting a podcast, putting your sermons online definitely qualifies. But as the medium grows, it will become more and more difficult to attract new listeners because of the sheer lack of differentiation.
To think in terms of narrowcasting, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Could I offer unique training on a particular topic that would really differentiate me from the crowd?
2. Does my experience or education qualify me to offer unique commentary on specific topics?
3. Do I have access to some interesting and higher-profile individuals that I might interview?
4. Are there any pop-culture trends (e.g. music, movies, tech, entertainment, books, and so on) in which I have a strong interest and knowledge? How could I create a show about those things?
5. Is there something about my life that would prove interesting and/or entertaining to others?
Shaluta notes that podcasting can deliver the Word of God beyond the local community in a way unmatched by other technologies-and at a lower cost. He's right. But the key for pastors and laymen alike will be in developing innovative content for niche markets and learning to stand out in what has become the most crowded venue of all time-the Internet.
Godcasting Made Easy
A computer, a microphone, a good idea-and you're on the air!
Let your brilliance shine. One good idea could change the world. What specific, creative content idea is the world just waiting for you to launch? If it helps, just think back to how creative radio used to be before the launch of the one-eyed monster.
Get out the toys. To play podcaster, you'll need a computer with an audio input, a microphone and the right software. (I use Audacity, which can be downloaded free at http://audacity.sourceforge.net). Don't forget to “tag” your MP3 file with info such as show title, your name, date, and so on. Audacity can help you with this step.
Share it with the world. If you already have a Web site, simply upload your file to the site. Otherwise you'll need to explore some free or fee-based Web-hosting options. And if you want to be listed in the major podcast directories, you'll need to create an RSS file and submit your information to all the big directories.
From Idea to the Web
Podcast directories and the software that makes them work.
Reinvent the Wheel
Three top, secular podcasts-and what you can learn from their methodology.
Diggnation with Kevin Rose & Alex Albrecht - Diggnation is a podcast based on the top tech stories from Digg.com, “a technology news Web site that combines social bookmarking, blogging, RSS and non-hierarchical editorial control.” With digg, users submit stories for review where they are promoted or demoted by community interest. In other words, readers decide which stories make the grade.
Ideas: Digg is innovative. Digg is the future. Imagine a Christian-based site on any topic (Bible, Christian living, prayer, entertainment, finances … the sky is the limit) in which readers tell you what kind of topics they want to hear you discuss. Now that's the way to guarantee an audience!
Free Talk Live - Free Talk Live (FTL) is a syndicated talk radio show which airs on stations around North America. FTL's slogan is “talk radio YOU control,” meaning that they'll talk about anything from politics to personal issues-callers set the pace.
Ideas: Once again, user control sets the standard. How about picking an audience you want to reach (e.g. cultists, homosexuals, ufologists, skaters, pornographers, surfers, entertainers, bartenders, bikers, pro-abortionists … ), creating a show that talks to listeners honestly, and offers frank, biblical perspectives in a loving and firm manner? Hey, it certainly worked for Bob Larson!
Skepticality - With Skepticality, science and critical thought reign supreme, while the idols of “pseudoscience-the paranornal, supernatural, UFO/alien encounters, mis-understood history and overwraught legends”-are attacked with evangelistic fervor.
Ideas: How about someone taking up the mantle to produce Skeptics Revised and exploring the inherent problems with allowing “science, critical thought and humanist discussion” to run amok in society?
Tutor in a Box
Tutor in a Box
Singing Coach Unlimited offers high-tech help for the musically challenged.
If you've ever dreamed about standing in front of millions and belting out a tune but get hives at the thought of actually performing in front of a crowd, Carry-a-Tune's Singing Coach Unlimited single-license CD-ROM computer software comes along to coach you in your vocal technique-right from the comfort of your own living room.
Complete with a headset microphone, the simple and easy-to-use software accompanies the participant on their journey through basic music instruction, vocal training and music composition that is informative while elementary in its approach to polish unrefined voices.
The basic functions of the $99.95 Coach software allow the user to take voice lessons via a computer instructor who can grade their progress at the end of each lesson by assessing how close their pitch is to perfection, and offering tips and methods for improvement. Coach also allows its users to download songs from their www.carryatune.com Web site (the first 12 song downloads are free), where they can then sing along and record themselves singing a variety of music.
The site is in the process of expanding their selection of Christian music, which is currently limited mostly to hymns, spirituals and Christmas favorites. Though the bulk of music that is available on www.carryatune.com is from secular genres, users are able to import any standard MIDI files, hence using the product to practice any song of their choosing-if you have the appropriate operating system (not compatible with Macintosh computers and most Windows 95/98 operating systems).
A composition feature is also included in the program, allowing budding songwriters the chance to compose their own melodies, and, then, both see them written out and hear them recorded.
In a church setting, Coach would be best suited for choir members looking for extra practice time or Sunday soloists looking to check their pitch before inflicting noise on a congregation.
Singing Coach Unlimited could be an asset to any beginning singers with no previous music knowledge who are looking for a creative way to sharpen their craft, improve their basic musicality and hone their God-given abilities.
Darwin Hobbs burst on the gospel music scene a few years ago with his song “Everyday,” a duet with Doobie Brother Michael McDonald.
Now dropping his fourth solo project, Worshipper, Hobbs' vocal prowess is undeniable on strong cuts like the energetic “Glorify Him” and the mesmerizing ballad “Grace.”
He also covers some well-known cuts such as Richard Smallwood's “I Give You Praise,” Thomas Whitfield's “Precious Jesus,” Chris Tomlin's “Forever” and Matt Redman's “Better Is One Day.”
Hobbs, worship leader at Bishop Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, not only delivers wonderful worship songs but also includes songs perfect for a praise team or ensemble.
I'm Amazed … Live
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (INO Records)
With their latest release, I'm Amazed ... Live, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir once again establishes their hallmark of excellence in Gospel music.
Rock-solid vocals, arrangements and dynamics make it easy to see why The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has remained ahead of the pack in providing church-choir repertoire for years.
The album was recorded live from their accoustically perfected church auditorium in Brooklyn and showcases the impeccable precision and unparalleled guidance of director Carol Cymbala.
Highlights include the Latin-infused “Gloria,” the power ballad title cut, and the up-tempo “High and Lifted Up.” Choir directors and members alike will also appreciate an array of guest vocal appearances from artists such as Donnie McClurkin.
I'm Amazed ... Live is sure to take its place among The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir's glorious discography of church-choir standards, leaving music that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
God He Reigns
From start to finish, God He Reigns is a worship project that does as is customary for the Hillsong Australia crew. The album proves that they are on the top of their game with writing and composing songs that uplift the heart of God in their live audience-a guaranteed hit for listeners, churches and choirs alike.
Churches will easily adapt to singing these songs for years. Starting off with “Let Creation Sing,” God He Reigns takes a position of heartfelt praise, and with songs such as “Emmanuel” and title track “God He Reigns,” this compilation of worship is a must-have.
From the Heart
Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise (Alliant Music Group)
Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise have gained notoriety from their praise and worship songs, including “I Really Love You” and “Closer.”
The group's Alliant Music Group debut From The Heart finds the choral director and praise and worship leader of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston bringing songs of healing, reconciliation and love to the forefront.
The live recording showcases highlights such as the bubbly, fun “Let Everything That Hath Breath,” the CCM-slanted “So Glad I'm Here” and the relaxing “It's a Love Song.” Other favorites will certainly be the pretty, vertically directed song, “I Love You” and the comforting track, “My Secret Place.”
Campbell is obviously inspired by the Psalms as evidenced by the inclusion of the fiery Latin “Make a Joyful Noise.” Listeners will find “I Owe You More” uplifting. Noted gospel songstress Kathy Taylor-Brown makes a special guest appearance on “Forever.” Campbell delivers a solid project and a powerful praise and worship experience.
Life in Fred
Brad Whittington's parents don't mind that he writes about his life as a PK ... they're just glad he's not in jail!
Brad Whittington, a preacher's kid (PK) and fiction author of three novels based on the life of a PK, won a 2004 Christy Award in the “Best First Novel” category for his first fiction novel, Welcome to Fred (Broadman & Holman). Since then, he's written Living With Fred and Escape From Fred-Fred being the real-life town in Texas where the books are set. Ministries Today caught up with the award-winning author who was happy about the chance “to speak for an often overlooked demographic”:
Ministries Today: What was your experience growing up as a PK?
Brad Whittington: My own PK experience, which was quite mild compared to others, informs the Fred books, but doesn't limit them. I drew from the stories of many PKs in developing the character of Mark Cloud and the environment he grows up in. The Yahoo.com PK group was very helpful in that regard.
MT: What's the number one mistake a pastor can make with his or her PK?
BW: Hypocrisy. If the image a pastor portrays to the church is in conflict with the private behavior at home, it can have a devastating effect on children to the extent of creating psychological problems that can haunt them for life.
MT: Growing up a PK, did your family have a hard time with you not going into full-time ministry?
BW: In my case, it was never suggested that I should go into full-time ministry. Perhaps they were just thankful I stayed out of jail.
MT: So, why not the Rev. Brad Whittington?
BW: I knew the job description from personal experience and knew it was not for me. To be honest, I can't imagine why anyone would want to be a pastor. To me, the most logical response to the suggestion is to run from the room screaming.
MT: What's the one thing you would have changed about being a PK?
BW: I would have preferred to be taller, better looking and have more dates. Oh, wait, that doesn't have anything to do with being a PK, does it?
MT: What can PKs do to make the best of their PK experience?
BW: The first step is to choose great parents. If you have already blown the first step, do your best to grow up without destroying your life or the lives of those around you, then get some distance and get some perspective. Walking into a church in a cloak of anonymity can be a welcome relief, but it can also get lonely.
Lorie G. Munizzi (a PK)
For more information on Brad Whittington and his books, check out www.fredtexas.com. His latest book in the series, Escape From Fred, hits store shelves this month.
Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens
Neil Cole (Jossey-Bass)
Neil Cole's new book, Organic Church, should come with a warning label. From beginning to end, I raised objections as Cole put sacred cows out of their misery. And nearly every one of my objections was met with a thoughtful, biblical answer.
A veteran church planter, Cole puts the way we do church under the microscope of Scripture and asks a simple question: If we remove the accretions of culture, tradition and consumerism that have confused the world and burdened the people of God for centuries, what is the irreducible substance of “church”?
Once we allow the church to exist in its simplest form (“Wherever two or three are gathered in my name ... ”), Cole contends, churches will multiply at an uncontrollable rate-and that's a good thing.
The only hitch is this: When most of us think of church, we think of a lumbering, recalcitrant, beast-complete with staffs, choirs, committees, boards, programs, and so on. Like an elephant with a two-year gestation period, the DNA of the average church militates against rapid reproduction.
Instead, Cole recommends “lowering the standard” of what it means to do church and “raising the standard” of what it means to be a disciple. He militates against mega churches, marketing tactics, church-growth gimmicks, professional clergy-and just about every other accoutrement of 21st-century ministry.
Most importantly, Cole offers a solution to the sobering statistics pollster George Barna and others have held out to the church in recent years: committed followers of Christ are leaving in droves ... to preserve their faith.
Participants in this exodus of sorts aren't the only ones asking questions these days. They join burned out pastors, exhausted from decades of programs that ruin more fruit than they produce. ... Bible college and seminary graduates who feel an inescapable call to ministry but are hesitant to enter what appears to be a professional machine of clergy advancement. ... Businesspeople who possess giftings for ministry but are considered second-class citizens by the vocational clergy they serve.
Instead, Cole levels the playing field, encouraging readers (from housewives to lawyers to recovering drug addicts) to launch churches wherever there are spiritually hungry people. Cole has seen churches start in bars, parking lots, lunch rooms, livingrooms ... and even strip clubs.
The difference between Cole and some others who advocate simple church models is that he sees no need for these “organic” expressions of the body of Christ to morph into the institutional and physical structures that dot the landscape of 21st-century America. Instead, the author argues for a lean, mean, quickly-multipling version of church-two or three people who gather for intense prayer and Bible study.
Cole is anything but an ivory-tower theorist. Although his churches may look nothing like what the world has grown to expect, this postmodern pioneer has planted more than 700 authentic, organic, discipling fellowships in 32 states and 23 nations in six years.
If you buy only one book in 2006 (and I hope that is not the case!), buy Organic Church. As Cole himself warns, it may ruin you for “ordinary church.” And that's probably a good thing.
The 9 to 5 Window
“Wow, wasn't the presence of the Lord strong in there this morning?”
It's wonderful that is our assessment of a church service. But, as Os Hillman points out in his latest book, similar exclamations are becoming increasingly more common about the workplace.
“God is raising up a new kind of workplace believer who is experiencing the power of God in daily work life,” Hillman says in The 9 to 5 Window. Hillman, who owned an advertising agency for 12 years, is the president of the International Coalition of Workplace Ministries.
His book is not just about witnessing at work. He also gives illustrations how the Lord has given insight for the resolution of business difficulties, used believers to intercede for people and business decisions, and performed the miraculous in the workplace.
Added to the ring of credibility that his illustrations have, is the candid transparency that Hillman exhibits. His own struggles and victories serve as encouragement that God can take a willing servant and make him a vessel of honor on the job.
Thriving Through Ministry Conflict
If you are at all involved with ministry, Thriving Through Ministry Conflict by Understanding Your Red and Blue Zones should be on your bookshelf.
Here, authors James Osterhaus, Joseph Jurkowski and Todd Hahn present the story of an everyday pastor, illustrating such key ideas in dealing with conflict as adaptive change, reframing, projection, transference and boundaries.
The authors have also included response activities in the back of the book that re-present these lessons using minister surveys, quizzes, comparative charts and step-by-step instructions. Whether your learning style is narrative or analytical, this book presents a valuable tool to help you deal with the challenges of ministry conflict.
Sarah J. Cobb
Protecting Your Teens From Today's
Witchcraft (Bethany House)
From sitcoms to blockbusters to its celebrity adherents, Wicca has taken a place in popular culture as the religion of choice for the environmentally sensitive, the politically jaded and the relationally peaceful. Along the way, it's attracted the interest of vulnerable youth, who find appealing the apparent freedom it offers.
Steve Russo's Protecting Your Teens From Today's Witchcraft is “a parent's guide to confronting Wicca and the occult.” He reveals the facts and offers assistance for parents and teens to avoid entering that dangerous world.
Russo is co-host of Focus on the Family's weekly teen radio show, Life on the Edge-Live! and the music-video TV show 24/Seven. Throughout his book Russo provides information rarely mentioned from pulpits or in classrooms. Modern witchcraft is all around today's society; Russo gives advice to those who are ignorant of the dangers.
Leading From The Second Chair
Being a good leader is not easy. Neither is being a good follower. And it gets just that much trickier when you have to do both at the same time.
Roger Patterson and Mike Bonem provide expert advice on how to function as an assistant pastor (or other church leader) in their book, Leading From the Second Chair. The authors offer spiritual wisdom that has been gained by experience (both theirs and that of others they interviewed).
They identify three paradoxes that consistently challenge second-chair leaders: how to be a subordinate leader; how to be proficient at detailed tasks, yet maintain a broad organizational prospective; and how to be content in someone else's vision, without losing one's ability to dream for the future.
Of great value are the sections added for the benefit of first-chair leaders (such as, pastors and bishops) at the end of each paradox discussion. These sections help the first chairs appreciate the perspective of their subordinates.
Applying the Bible and Today's Best Leadership
Models to Become an Effective Leader
In his book, Christ-Based Leadership, pastor and author David Stark attempts to reveal the essence of good leadership using the illustrations of Christ and the application of today's business models.
The book deals with issues of leadership such as playing to the strengths of your team, having a culture of excellence and equipping your leaders.
While there are definitely strong ideas presented throughout the book, finding them may prove a challenge for readers. The book would definitely be strengthened by fewer ideas and a stronger voice, as the pages read somewhat like a smattering of book reviews.
Sarah J. Cobb
The Youth Worker's Guide To Helping Teenagers in Crisis
Addiction. Cheating. Divorce. Eating disorders. These are just a sampling of issues tackled in The Youth Worker's Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis by Rich Van Pelt and Jim Hancock.
As veterans of the Columbine crisis, the authors detail foundational principles of crisis management and give practical instructions on crisis techniques (e.g. deep listening and action planning).
They also include insightful, personal comments to illustrate key points and offer plenty of usable resources. In the ever-evolving, ever-expanding crisis component of youth ministry, Van Pelt and Hancock provide an easy-to-find-what-I-need, how-to manual that should be on every youth worker's bookshelf.
Arlena R. Corzine
On Earth as It Is In Advertising
Those songs on TV commercials are easy to remember. Maybe we forget the product being sold, but we recall every phrase of the poetic sales pitch. Is that all today's ads do to us? Or, do they change our beliefs?
In the book On Earth as It Is in Advertising, author Sam Van Eman reveals how the manipulation of advertising effects people in spiritual ways, not just financially and psychologically.
As ministers and congregations seek to become better in maintaining budgets and refusing to conform to this world, Van Eman's analysis guides leaders away from consumerism. He dares us to leave the world's hype and live the Word's hope.
Best-Seller List Top 25 books
1. Captivating John and Stasi Eldredge
2. Forgiven (Softcover) Karen Kingsbury
(Tyndale House) 3. Your Best life now Joel Osteen
4. The Five Love Languages Gary Chapman
5. The Preacher's Daughter Beverly Lewis
6. Love & Respect Emerson Eggerichs
7. The Threshing Floor Juanita Bynum
8. The Maker's Diet (softcover) Jordan S. Rubin
9. The Purpose-Driven Life Rick Warren
10. Battlefield of the Mind Joyce Meyer
11. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World Joanna Weaver
12. For Women Only Shaunti Feldhahn
13. Dinner with a Perfect Stranger David Gregory
14. Every Young Woman's Battle Shannon Ethridge, Stephen Arterburn
15. Voices of the Faithful Beth Moore
(Integrity)>br> 16. The Power of a Praying Wife Stormie Omartian
17. Wild at heart John Eldredge
18. Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis
19. Battlefield of the Mind Devotional Joyce Meyer
20. Every Man's Battle Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker
21. Lies Women Believe Nancy Leigh DeMoss
22. The Power of a Praying Parent (updated) Stormie Omartian
23. Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller
24. 90 Minutes in Heaven Don Piper, Cecil Murphey
25.Heaven Randy Alcorn
Compiled from Christian Retailing's Top 100 Books list from the December 12, 2005, issue of Christian Retailing magazine. List is based on distributor sales for English-language books in the United Statesand Canada for October 1-31, 2005. Copyright © 2005 Strang Communications. All rights reserved.
A Martyr's Heritage
A Martyr's Heritage
End of the Spear targets a new generation of missionary risk-takers.
A generation ago, Elizabeth Elliot's book Through Gates of Splendor chronicled the story of five young missionaries who were massacred while attempting to reach an isolated tribe in the Amazon rain forests of Ecuador. Many 20th-century missionaries trace their callings to Elliot's book and the testimony of her reconciliation with her husband's (Jim Elliot) killers.
On par with other groundbreaking Christian films such as 2004's The Passion of the Christ and 2005's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is End of the Spear, set to release this month from independent studio Every Tribe Entertainment.
A project seven years in the making, End of the Spear releases on 1,200 screens nationwide Jan. 20th, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of five U.S. missionaries-Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming and Roger Youderian-killed in the eastern rainforests of Ecuador in 1956 by the Waodani tribe, who before exposure to the gospel were the most violent society ever documented by anthropologists.
But the story does not end there. The film uncovers a continuing story that focuses on Steve Saint, one of the slain missionary's sons, and his dad's killer.
Ultimately, the film paints the events that lead up to Saint's reconciling with his father's killer in 1994, and the moving of Saint's family to live and minister among the Waodani for a period of 16 months.
Executively produced by Mart Green, founder of Mardel Christian & Educational Supply bookstore chain, a man who had never set foot in a movie theater prior to working on this film, End of the Spear is not overtly evangelistic. Rather, it is a story of courage, redemption, reconciliation and forgiveness.
Through the use of flashback we are taken on a cinematic journey (think National Geographic TV special) to the rainforests of eastern Ecuador as the story unfolds of what drove these five men to ultimately give their lives for a people that they did not know.
Although the story is raw at some points due to the former violent nature of the tribe (numerous spearing deaths and machete slayings), humor is interwoven throughout.
Whether it was the missionaries visibly joking around with one another or witty one-liners in the dialogue, the movie evoked a humanness to these slain heroes and the Waodani tribe that made them believable and relatable to the audience.
Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman's Chad Allen, (dual role of Nate Saint and Steve Saint); Chase Ellison (Steve Saint as a child); Louie Leonardo (Mincayani, involved in the spearings of the missionaries); Jack Guzman (Mincayani's brother, Kimo, also involved in the slayings and eventually the tribe's first convert); and Christina Souza (Dayumae, a Waodani woman who escapes the tribe as a child and goes back years later with some of the missionaries' families) all bring forth a provoking performance.
Earning a PG-13 rating, it might not be suitable for children under 13 because of intense sequences of violence and some tribal nudity, but other than that there was no profanity or explicit scenes to contend with.
There's also the controversy surrounding actor Chad Allen portraying missionary Nate Saint. After he was hired, the production team discovered that Allen was a politically-active member of the homosexual community. Steve Saint had concerns, but ultimately concluded that “Chad is a professional actor. I knew that if he played my dad in End of the Spear, Dad would not become like Chad, but Chad might become like Dad.”
But, no matter what your feelings on the subject, after seeing the movie one will realize why Allen was picked-because of his superb acting skills.
At certain points, moviegoers might get tired of keeping up with the rapidly paced subtitles that translated the Emberra dialect (the language of the Panamanian tribe who portrayed the Waodani in the film) and get easily confused trying to remember the names of the Waodani, and how each was related to one another and what vendettas they held against one another. But, overall, these do not detract from the understanding of the plot and what one brings away from the film.
If you and your church members have never heard the story about the missionaries, it might be advisable to see the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor beforehand-especially before you invite family and friends to the movie-that released from FOX Home Entertainment on DVD in October.
Bearing Fruit Communications offers a church kit with a free abridged version of the Beyond the Gates documentary that you can use to show in your church services or small groups. The full-length DVD goes into detail about the lives of the five missionaries, their families and the Waodani who were involved in the killings-all told from their perspectives through one-on-one interviews, family home movies and photos.
If you're like me and appreciate coming away from a film with some food for thought (other than another melodramatic lesson in eschatology) and something to aspire to, then End of the Spear is for you. You will be challenged to live out your faith with boldness, courage, conviction and eternity in view.
Lorie G. Munizzi
For more information on End of the Spear, visit www.endofthespear.com. For more information on getting a free, abridged DVD of the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor for your church or Christian organization, please call Bearing Fruit Communications at 1-800-695-9847, or visit (www.daretomakecontact.com).
The 'Net' Results
Beyond bios and service schedules-five ingredients for an effective church Web presence.
An effective Internet site is more than just a handout with address information and the times of your services. Today we live in an Internet generation, and people of all ages are spending more and more time online. In that world, here are a few tips to maximize your Web site:
Think design. Re-thinking the design elements of your Web site isn't just a “cosmetic” issue-it's fundamental to connecting with your audience on a very deep and significant basis. Designer Charles Eames said, “Design is a plan for action.”
Think short. Your Web site biography isn't the place for a five-page résumé. A one- or two-paragraph bio is more likely to be read. The same is true when describing programs, outreaches and other aspects of your church. People READ books. They SCAN Web sites.
Think interactive. Help the Web surfer connect with your ministry. The deeper they go into your site, the longer they tend to stay. Think of all the questions a visitor or new member might have, and provide the answers.
Think commerce. Create an online bookstore and provide teaching tapes, books and other resources to your congregation or partners. People love to buy online, so make that another “connection point” to your ministry.
Think technology. In a world where the Internet has changed everything, you should explore how technology can enhance your Web site (e.g. through online counselors, cell-phone access, and so on.)
Think global. You have a remarkable opportunity to reach people who would never darken the door of your church, so don't forget to provide materials on salvation, Christian living, marriage, family and other topics.
In the 21st century, an Internet presence could become the most effective tool for evangelism, education and promotion we've ever known. But we'll never see its potential unless we're looking toward the future.