Ministry Technology

Two Years Later: Where Are We Now? (Part 7)

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Are you and your ministry prepared for the next crisis that will inevitably flow from these “perilous times” in which we live, “in the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1)?  

SermonAudio is preparing—which will allow all of its broadcasters to be better suited for the next cultural calamity, whatever that may be.

The company is building The Vault—a secure space on the second floor of the Mack Library, on the campus of Bob Jones University, which will house new technological infrastructure, providing security and independence for “the largest and most trusted library of audio sermons,” upon which so many churches have come to rely.

SermonAudio founder Steven Lee summed it up simply: “This will protect us from becoming cancelled,” he stated.

“We are in the business of trying to protect even the smallest church,” he said. “Nobody is working on a solution for the small church. So that is where we come in.”

Jesus predicted a day when “the love many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). There are few terms more chilling than cancel culture—a concept with which we’ve become all too familiar since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resultant shutdowns, and the battles over the freedoms of religion and speech that directly ensued.

“Cancel culture is a real thing,” Lee stated. “To me, it is just one small step away from it being a wholesale gospel issue.”

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Two Years Later: Where Are We Now? (Part 6)

Read the series.

Online ministry efforts have doubtless expanded exponentially since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It expedited my own plans for engaging in online ministry—and I am sure it did the same for many others.

I shared quite a few of my own thoughts on this theme in parts two and three of this series. I have also described at length how the shutdowns provided the time and opportunity—and compelled me by necessity—to launch the type of online outreach that I had envisioned from the beginning of my service with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

Now, I believe that our next question as church and ministry leaders ought to be: How can we think strategically, and prepare ourselves and our ministries, before we are ambushed by the next crisis?

Once again, we’re drawing on the experience of Steven Lee, the founder of SermonAudio.com, in looking at this question. I interviewed him regarding The Vault, which SermonAudio is building on the campus of Bob Jones University, and related issues.

“This whole pandemic—there is a lot that we can say that’s negative about it,” Lee stated. “But, obviously, I think that churches and ministries are seizing upon this tool to get the gospel out far and wide.”

Lee was referring to using the tools of technology in broadcasting our message—a practice that many ministers embraced during the shutdowns of 2020.

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Has church attendance by Millennials increased?

"Although Millennials (and, emerging behind them, Gen Z) are known for declines in religiosity, data show that, since 2019, the percentage of Millennials reporting weekly church attendance has increased from 21 percent to 39 percent." - Barna

Another study: Millennials adopt digital worship, but not at the expense of IRL faith - RNS

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Digital religion makes faith experience richer for millennial believers, study of pre-COVID data finds

"'Digital Religion Among U.S. and Canadian Millennial Adults,' recently published in the Review of Religious Research, explores the prevalence of some digital religion practices among 18- to 35-year-old millennials in the U.S. and Canada using data from the 2019 Millennial Trends Survey." - CPost

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Our Amazing Ability to Communicate

I am truly amazed when I consider how blessed we are in our ability to communicate the gospel and Biblical truth in our ministries today.

I am even more astonished when I think about how far the Lord has brought us, personally, in this regard, in just three-and-a-half years with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

Of course, in a perfect world, we would have had everything we are doing now all laid out ahead of time—planned, prepared, produced and ready to unveil before we ever stepped into our first ministry assignment.

Life and ministry, however, are never perfect. We learn by doing. We grow as we are able, as we go—sometimes even as we are stretched.

A turning point for us in our commitment to better communication in our ministry, and toward the greater use of technology in general, came with the shutdowns for the pandemic in 2020. Unable to travel, we had the time, opportunity and necessity to expand our reach online.

Fortunately, I knew immediately how I wanted to go about doing that. Having assisted Dr. John Whitcomb in operating his page on SermonAudio.com since it launched in 2003, I always knew that I wanted to establish my own outreach there—which I did in April of 2020 at SermonAudio.com/pscharf.

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