Few technological innovations have burst on the scene so rapidly or taken hold so quickly as the World Wide Web — the graphical interface which allows average computer users to take advantage of the global connection of computer resources known as the Internet. Over the last three to four years, the Web has transformed the Internet from a relatively exotic method of transmitting research data to a bustling marketplace of commerce, ideas, entertainment and religion.
In fact, religion is one of the big growth areas of the Web. Churches, denominations, parachurch groups and individuals have hustled to carve out their own interchanges on this “Information Superhighway.” Hundreds of churches in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and beyond have established web sites, ranging from relatively simple one-page information areas all the way to multi-level sites with hundreds of pages of Christian resources. Add to that the ministries and faith-based organizations that have established an Internet presence, and you quickly realize that this is one contemporary movement that pagans don’t have all to themselves.
And increasing numbers of ministers are finding that the Web offers a unique new delivery system for information and ideas that can impact their work — including preaching. Imagine yourself a preacher prior to the invention of the printing press; then imagine how that single invention would have transformed your daily activity. Within a generation, ministers may well look at the development of the Web the way earlier generations would have viewed Gutenberg’s creation.
But you and I don’t have to wait that long to take advantage of this innovation. The Web contains enormous resources that preachers can use today in enhancing their study and effectiveness. Here is a brief sampling of some of the resources already available (and remember — more are being added weekly):
Preaching Resources on the Web
One of the most obvious resources (at least to me) is the Preaching magazine web site — particularly Preaching On-Line, the new on-line journal produced by the publisher of Preaching. While the Preaching web site offers selected samples from the printed publication, Preaching On-Line consists of entirely new materials (primarily sermons) which will not appear in any other form. Preaching On-Line is not an electronic version of Preaching; instead, it is an entirely different publication which provides new and different resources. If anything, it is an electronic supplement for the printed version.
Because of the limitations of print, Preaching cannot include even five percent of the material that is submitted annually. (If it did, you’d be holding a book the size of the old Sears Roebuck catalog!) Preaching On-Line enables us to showcase far more quality material than could ever appear in Preaching, and offers preaching ministers an enormous new treasure-chest of sermon ideas, exegetical insights, and useful illustrations. The cost is $29.95 per year (or a six-month sampler is available for $19.95); subscribers receive a new password each quarter. A one-month sample issue is available to preview at no cost; to review it, go to: https://www.preaching.com/preaching. You can order on-line, or by calling 1-800-288-9673.
Yet preaching resources on the Web go far beyond this site. Here are some other sites worth a visit (Be sure to record ones you like with a “bookmark” for easy return at a later date.):
Christian Classics Ethereal library (http://ccel.wheaton.edu/). Here you’ll find a virtual library of classic Christian books and hymns — from Augustine and Aquinas to Calvin and Chesterton. You’ll find writings from the Puritans, Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, as well as 38 volumes of the early church fathers. This is an incredible resource for preachers or any Christian wishing to study the rich heritage of our faith.
Ray C. Stedman Library (http://www.pbc.org/dp/stedman/). Here’s an example of a church-based (Peninisula Bible Church) site that is a service to churches everywhere. Stedman was a masterful expository preacher of our day, and this site includes scores of his sermons, collected in biblical and thematic series. Stedman’s insights provide a seed-bed of inspiration for other ministers.
Sermon on the Net (http://www.crusade.org/sermon). Part of the Campus Crusade for Christ web site, this area offers a monthly sermon — normally with an emphasis on evangelism and/or apologetics.
Online Pulpit (http://www.gospelcom.net/ivpress/feature.html). A service of InterVarsity Press, this is a regular feature produced by Craig Loscalzo, formerly professor of preaching at Southern Baptist Seminary and now pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky. Loscalzo shares ideas about effective preaching in our day.
Spurgeon Archive (http://www.gty.org/~phil/spurgeon.htm). Why should Tom Cruise and Meg Ryan have sites on the web and not that grand master of the 19th century pulpit, Charles Spurgeon? This site offers a wealth of Spurgeon writings and sermons, as well as material about the man and his work.
Nazarene Online Church Library (http://www.ifu.net/~booton/library.htm). An outstanding collection of books, sermons and articles in the Wesleyan tradition.
Guide to Christian Literature on the Internet (http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/christian-books.html). A directory that points you to other resources for study and inspiration. You’ll find plenty to keep you busy here. A companion resource is Not Just Bibles: A Guide to Christian Resources on the Internet (http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/christian-resources.html). Here you’ll find on-line mailing lists for clergy and other interesting features.
Tyndale House (http://www.tyndale.com.ac.uk/). Tyndale House is a British center for biblical research, and this web site offers access to many of their resources. An interesting feature of this site is one of its links: access to the Cambridge University library.
The Pastor’s Office (http://www.fcs-net.com/brojack/). A new resource that’s not yet fully functional, but which offers promise for the future. I’d wait a few weeks before a visit to give Brother Jack time to put some more work in on this site. When it is complete, it will offer access to sermons and other pastoral resources.
On the Search
Sometimes you need to find resources but don’t know where to even start looking. That’s where “search engines” come in. These are sites which enable you to search for material on a particular word or theme.
Goshen (http://www.goshen.net) is a Christian Internet service which not only houses many Christian web sites but which also provides a search engine to seek them. Unfortunately, it will not search for words/topics within those sites, as does one of the newest search engines:
Alta Vista (http://www.altavista.com). Produced by Digital, this is the most powerful search engine I’ve encountered because it not only has a directory of web sites, it also indexes the words found within those sites. Of course, that may not always be a blessing; I searched on the word “anger” and found more than 50,000 uses — so much information that it is nearly useless as a quick research tool.
Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com) is another popular Internet resource. It has perhaps the best listing of web sites by topic. Unfortunately, it can only search on the names and descriptions of sites, not on the material within them. When I searched on “anger” it found 451 uses, but most of them were not correct — they were words in which the letters “anger” appear, such as “hanger” or “dangerous.”
For such topical searches, let me suggest an alternative found on CompuServe, one of the commercial on-line services. CompuServe offers Magazine Data Base Plus, which offers a virtual index of thousands of magazine articles. When I searched on the word “anger,” I received a report that it found 36 uses, including 13 subdivisions (such as Anecdotes, Care & Treatment, Control, Health Aspects, Management, Psychological Aspects, etc.). It will also let me see a description of the article in which the word/topic appears. Unfortunately, it will charge me $1.50 for each article I read/download; however, since I can evaluate the likely value of an article by the title and description, I can limit my expenditures while targeting valuable illustrative material for sermons. O.S. Hawkins, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, uses this service on a weekly basis and recommends it to other pastors as a great source of timely and useful sermon illustrations.
At present you must subscribe to CompuServe independently of the Internet (although you can access the Web from within CompuServe). The cost is under $10 a month for about five hours usage a month; with increasing competition from the Internet and other on-line services, however, prices continue to drop.
Climbing on the Web
How do you get started on the Web?
If you live in a major urban area, you have access to plenty of Internet providers, both local and national. In addition to direct providers, you can also access the Net from within any of the major on-line services (America Online, CompuServe, etc.). Netcom now provides unlimited access to the Net for $19.95 a month, with local access phone numbers in over 200 cities, and 800-number access anywhere in the nation (800-number access costs an additional $4.95 per hour usage). (Netcom diskettes are available at no cost from Preaching by calling 1-800-288-9673.) Most smaller cities also have Internet providers. Within 2-5 years, much of the nation will be able to access the Web via our cable TV wiring, at speeds far greater than currently available.
The World Wide Web is no more a panacea for preachers than is a good set of commentaries; neither will write good sermons for you. But each is an effective tool that can help you strengthen your biblical study and preach better sermons. And as the Web continues to develop, preachers will find it an increasingly valuable delivery system for information and illustrations that will help us as we preach, teach and minister.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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