This website is going away (soon!). And our new site is built around website membership. So a word is in order (as promised) about the ideas, thoughts, and intentions behind that move. And it’s probably not what you think and simpler than you might guess!
Website Membership: The ‘Obvious’
One’s viewpoint leads to predictable conclusions. One view of ministry goes something like this: I like seeing people helped and projects get done. I am glad Keith and others are doing good things.
People can view this ministry and/or their local church in those terms. That view is held by those I call spectators. Every now and then spectators will do something helpful and they might contribute occasionally. But nominal involvement isn’t what makes them a spectator in their church or in ministries like this one. They are spectators because of how they view themselves. Spectators are betrayed by pronouns. Who is involved? They are involved. And They could be one’s pastor, Bible study leader, relief worker, Christian counselor, or leader of a ministry like this one. The missing pronoun is: We. Churches and parachurch ministries accomplish great things through those who frequently use We. They know ministry is something we do together.
A surface-only view suggests a membership site is about fund raising. Does ministry take resources? Yes. Does your local church have a budget? Are resources required for the work of the Red Cross or Samaritan’s Purse? We know the answer. But where ministry is concerned, funds or resources are not an end in themselves. Resources are a means to an end. And it is with great gratitude I can say the Father has met the needs of this ministry out of His great riches. He continues to use ordinary people who understand the word: We. None of us answers God’s call alone. He puts others around us. So what is the deeper thought behind a membership site?
Website Membership: The Surprise (?)
The word is stewardship. Really! Think with me just a minute. God calls us to be good stewards of what He has given to us. And according to I Corinthians 4:7 we have been given everything. Now, let’s apply these thoughts to me and what I get to do.
First, I have been given the opportunity to have extensive Biblical education. What good is that if it doesn’t benefit others? Let’s continue. Eight years of writing, producing, compiling, and editing courses for pastor training has built up quite a body of work. What do we do with that? Was that meant to only benefit me, our teaching faculty, and our student pastors? That would not seem like good stewardship to me. And then there are the hands and hearts that made all that work possible? What??? Yes! There has been a host of We users who have contributed to this ministry. Their engagement has been just as necessary as mine in producing equipping resources for Kingdom ministry.
Matthew 10:42 presents a crystal clear picture of how GOD views our work together. His Word, not mine, says He rewards His workers equally with those who enable His work. Add to that Jesus’ words in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:19-21) about putting up for ourselves treasure in heaven. To put past work on the shelf or limit its use would be a poor decision in two ways:
Poor stewardship by not expanding the reach of the material
Limit the potential, future rewards for those who helped produce it
Now, how does a membership site help with stewardship?
We are looking to increase the number of We users in this ministry. It really isn’t about the website. There needs to be a larger number of people who are invested in the ministry. Are there opportunities we can grasp if there are more resources available? Yes. But we will share those over time.
A little quirk of human nature may help us understand the membership idea. First, equipping the body of Christ means we reach as many as possible. So why not just build the biggest, baddest free site on the planet? Our nature makes that counterproductive. Many of you have learned this like I did. We found ourselves taking care of an unexpected litter of kittens. The kids thought it was great. But our ad in the paper wasn’t effective. It said: Free to a good home… Someone suggested a different ad. They said selling the kittens would move them faster than giving them away – even though I didn’t want anything for them. I placed the ad and the kittens were gone in a week.
And then membership needs a good perspective. Think back to the famous Christian societies that have existed in the past. People of faith banded together to accomplish Kingdom ministry. They didn’t have the internet or websites. But we had Bible societies, orphan ministries, and Christian women’s ministries. And younger readers won’t remember the time when many of our hospitals were ministries of the Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian denominations. Christians joining hands for the Kingdom is not a new idea!
We have modern versions of those societies/ministries. Blueletter Bible is a site I have linked to many times in this blog. We partner with Third Millennium ministries in developing teaching materials. Those ministries have members who make their work possible. And having a defined membership means you can spend some time reaching out to specators. But you can spend most of your time productively working together with those who enable the ministry.
It’s A Wrap…
Let me grab just one more thought. Is the Word valuable? Absolutely! Do people always perceive that value? Unfortunately, No. And that’s the difference between spectators and participants. Those who participate in this ministry understand the value of the Word and the teaching/equipping we are able to provide. So my hope and prayer is the new site will help us continue to give something of great value and help grow the number of those who actively participate. Please pray for that!
The next post may be here. It may not! Please keep an eye on your inbox!
Soli Deo Gloria!