JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (BNc) — The House to House/Heart to Heart ministry, a work of the Jacksonville church, launched a new website Feb. 1, HTHBible.com.
BNc talked to Luke Griffin, webmaster for the site, about the idea behind the launch.
BNc: Why another online Bible site?
Luke: The other online Bible sites (Biblegateway, Blue Letter Bible, etc.) are run by denominations, so there is a lot of inaccurate content linked to them. They also look like they were designed in the late 90’s. We wanted to take advantage of the latest technology and add a more current “look and feel,” which we hope will put a good face on the Gospel to the modern world.
The site launched with several thousand pages of content, over 2500 audio sermons and over 100 videos. By integrating our existing content to the scriptures, and inserting Bible defense commentary at the point of alleged contradictions, I think we have made a good start, and we intend to continue improving it.
BNc: What will this site do that others, like BibleGateway, won’t?
Luke: Primarily, BibleGateway is a denominational site and has a great deal of false doctrine on it, and Christians are hesitant to encourage their friends to use it. We want to provide a site that every Christian will not only enjoy using, but will also feel comfortable inviting others to use, especially for evangelism purposes. We also feel that we have improved the way the resources are placed in the text of the Bible. Instead of having to search for the resources on a given scripture, articles, videos, audio files, pictures and commentary are all easily accessible from the text. We believe ours also looks more attractive, and as we add functionality, it will be easier to use. BibleGateway has about a ten-year head start on us, but we are approaching it from more of a multi-tier perspective.
BNc: What else is in the pipeline for this site and what’s the timeline?
Luke: Over the next few months we plan to have a directory of churches in the House to House/Heart to Heart program and link to their front page content. This will automatically give a list of their service times, special services, location, etc., and will be updated when they update their HTH page. This will allow users to know where they can find a sound congregation to visit in their geographic area (at least in the U.S.).
We also plan to update www.polishingthepulpit.com as soon as possible as a tool for those who will be attending it on August 28-September 3.
After that, we will concentrate resources on adding content and features to the online Bible. There is also a feature on the custom A/V site that allows us to use the right-hand box as a PowerPoint tool. We plan to start offering PowerPoint downloads in the not-too-distant future. I think everyone will be excited as the changes are implemented, tools are added and the content continues to improve.
BNc: Why the emphasis on video for a Bible site?
Luke: We are blessed to have so many good brotherhood works that are now producing top-quality videos. Part of the idea of www.housetohouse.com is that we are building something not to compete with our brethren, but to promote their works. We want to compete with the big denominational sites while at the same time drawing attention to our brotherhood’s sites.
Our goal is to get the truth to as many people as possible, and if we work together on providing good content, I think it makes us that much more competitive in the global sense.
It costs quite a bit to send material through the mail to people overseas. Audio and video on the web make it more accessible to more lost people. Many will still have the problem of bandwidth, since many areas do not have high-speed Internet, or even electricity. So we still need to continue all the good missionary work and print work going on in the brotherhood.
But to get the gospel to the whole world (of more than 6 billion people), we need to offer material in every media outlet that we possibly can.
Further, videos are among the most popular thing on the Internet right now. The average Internet user — and there are 1.4 billion of them on the earth — uses the Internet two hours a day. They are getting their news, entertainment and much of their Biblical teaching on the net.
I don’t think we have disproportionately featured the video content, but I do think it is something that will be one of the sites most popular uses. We will also constantly add articles, Bible questions and answers, back issues of HTH and other publications, as well as current offers and a great deal more.
BNc: On HTHBible.com, you have a Statement of Faith which links back to the HTH site at Housetohouse.com. Does this tend toward a creed?
Luke: No, our statement draws attention to the fact that the church of Christ has no creed but the Bible. It simply gives a brief overview of what the Bible says on several major doctrines. This will serve as a teaching tool that will be accessed by many first-time users, and each statement includes a scripture reference for further study and verification.
The reason we added it is to counter the statements made by the prominent denominational Bible sites. Almost all of them read like the Apostles Creed and end with a call to accept Jesus into your heart. I think that’s what non-Christians will expect to find when they click there and, instead, will have the truth plainly stated.
BNc: Only the KJV is offered on HTHBible.com. Will other versions eventually be available?
Luke: We intend to add other versions for study and comparison, but we needed to start with one, and the KJV was the best candidate, since it is widely accepted and has no complicated copyright issues. We hope to add the ASV soon, again, for simple copyright reasons.
BNc: Will it be possible to link to specific passages or verses in HTHBible.com?
Luke: Yes, and we’ll do one better. We will soon be coming out with our “Pocket Bible” application. You can add this to your website and pull up scriptures, as well as link into the larger HTHBible.com. I’ll be putting together a FAQ and some tutorial videos on how to use some of the more advanced features and take advantage of these opportunities.
We could not do this alone, but with God’s help I know we will be able to spread the Word to a large part of the world. Please pray for the success of the site.
BNc: How can brethren work together, among themselves and with HTH, to do a better job at outreach and to cooperate for a greater impact on the world through the Internet? Specifically, what avenues are open for a congregation or ministry to cooperate with HTH?
Luke: God has given us a great vehicle to draw the world’s attention to the church of Christ. House to House/Heart to Heart continuously reaches nearly three million families in the U.S., plus thousands in other countries. Couple this with housetohouse.com and HTH reaches out to about 160 countries each year. Other works in the brotherhood also reach out to large numbers of people, especially through TV and the Internet. As we work together, we are able to reach more people by cross-promotion, as well as reach the same people more effectively.
What we try to do through HTH is use the vehicle that God has given to give a sinner as many ways as possible to learn the truth. We point them to other works our brethren are doing in hopes that they will continue studying, exploring, learning and coming “to a knowledge of the Truth.” We promote sound websites, and then link to each other which helps improve Google searches (gets our sites listed higher in search listings). We also promote each other’s material, like we have done with “Searching for Truth” and various Focus Press DVDs. It is important that the brotherhood not see each other as competitors, but as members of the same team. The world and Satan are doing the best they can to tear down the Lord’s church and, failing that, to get the world to ignore us.
House to House has always aimed at helping local congregations get well-designed, customized print pieces mailed into their community at a low cost. By pooling resources to get quantity and bulk discounts, we’ve been able to offer very nice looking material and very affordable costs. We promote good works inside the paper, with featured websites and free Bible study materials. We offer freebies that readers can request (like books, audios, DVDs and magazine subscriptions) in cooperation with good works such as Focus Press, WVBS and others. This gets contacts for local churches to follow up on, and gives readers more reason to have a continuing interest in the church. We want to continue such practices on housetohouse.com and hthbible.com.
I have often been impressed with the selfless sacrifices that our brothers are willing to make when it comes to helping spread the Gospel. Reaching the world is a huge mission. None of us can do it alone. It takes each of us working together, with God’s help, to get as much done as possible.
Visit HTHBible.com right now.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us