Preacher 55 years without one-on-one Bible study shows need for personal evangelism

Ted Knight

Ted Knight teaching in Romania

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BNc) — Evangelist Ted Knight remembers a lectureship series where a preacher friend made a shocking confession.

The Mars Hill congregation near Vilonia, Ark., hosted a program for many years called the Evangelistically Speaking Lectureship. Continue reading

The brother in Christ who got us started on the Internet is gone

Mike Brown of Paragould

Mike Brown

PARAGOULD, Ark. (BNc) by J. Randal Matheny — Sometime around 1996, not long after I got my first email address, Mike Brown, a friend and brother in Christ from our then sponsoring congregation, shared with me how to code a bit of HTML and then provided me space on his webhost.

With Mike’s help, I began writing online, invited Barry Newton to contribute, and shortly Forthright Magazine was born. Then came Forthright Press, with our ministry partner Barbara Ann Oliver, along with BrotherhoodNews.com and other sites belonging to the GoSpeak effort. Continue reading

New social media site connects churches of Christ, offers scholarships

thewayfellow
MCCRORY, Ark. (BNc)
— There can be no doubt that the internet is dominated by the social media world. It seems that everyone is Facebooking, Tweeting, and Pinning items of interest. And while the abundance of social media options offers some advantages, it can also cause some things–such as peaceful, loving church relations–to get lost in the mix.

That is why TheWayfellow.com was created. The website is a social news network for members of the church of Christ, according to Matt Clifton, who also publishes Bulletin Digest and Sermon Tree.

“We really envision a website where members of the church can gather to discuss, fellowship, and share news and announcements, joy and sadness, and generally experience a greater sense of connectedness,” Clifton said. “We are also working on a scholarship program that goes along with the site, so members will be able to tap into some educational help as well.”

Users of the new site can “friend” other users, “like” articles, post photos, and join groups based on their specific interests.

thewayfellow-iconFor instance, each state has a group to keep up with area news, and there are already groups for preachers, men, ladies, teens, and many others. Or users can create their own groups according to their interests. Additionally, they can post articles and announcements that appear on the front page of the site.

With Facebook-like features, one might wonder why such a website is needed. Clifton believes it is a worthwhile venture because the social media landscape is becoming more and more hostile toward Christians.

“In one sense, we certainly need to be making our presence as Christians felt in the world. But there is also the need for Christians to build one another up and strengthen one another, and that is sometimes hard to do on some social media sites,” he said. “Frequently we are overrun by posts that have an anti-Christian message, or posts that are simply immoral and unsavory. TheWayfellow.com will be a safe haven for brothers and sisters in Christ to relax and enjoy like-minded fellowship one with another.”

Plus, users will not be inundated with advertisements on their timeline. “We will be seeking sponsorships and advertisements in the future to help support the site and fund scholarships, but advertisements will not be forced into posts, and any ads will be from brotherhood-related businesses, schools, and events,” Clifton said.

Matt and Darsy Clifton

Matt and Darsy Clifton

Clifton also said TheWayfellow.com is not trying to replace other social media offerings, but rather supplement a specific need. In fact, users can sign up using their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

“We do insist on security, so please forgive us for the questions we ask upon signup,” he said. “The purpose for the questions is to ensure that each member is a Christian, and we think it will pay off in a peaceful and useful site in the long run.”

Because the website is tied to the creation of a scholarship program, and because it is difficult to verify identity of international users, currently the site is only available to citizens of the United States.

“Facebook is very useful for international connections, so we encourage international Christians to continue using that platform. We hope in the future we may be able to overcome some of the challenges of international membership, but for now we have to stay within the United States,” Clifton said.

Eligible candidates can sign up for free at TheWayfellow.com.

‘Sermon Tree’ digital magazine innovates for preachers

SermonTreeLogoMCCRORY, Ark. (BNc) — Working ministers must craft approximately 104 sermons, 52 Bible classes, and often 52 Wednesday night devotionals, all while tending to personal Bible studies, home and hospital visits, funerals, weddings, and other happenings that crop up. It can be a challenge at times to keep sermons fresh.

One minister and publisher has designed a subscription-only digital publication called SermonTree.com to help preachers stay energized. The magazine offers a monthly downloadable, printable digest of sermon outlines, sermon seeds, illustrations, humor, and short devotional talks to inspire study and preaching for an entire month.

“In the best case scenario, preachers have a few sermons prepared well ahead of time in case of emergency, but the best case scenario often doesn’t match up with reality,” said SermonTree.com publisher Matt Clifton, who also publishes the Bulletin Digest. “And sometimes our preaching just gets a little stale, and we need some outside perspective on preaching and teaching to invigorate our own studies.”

That’s where SermonTree.com comes in. The digital magazine features 10 to 12 sermon outlines each month, varying in detail.

Preachers can take these outlines and develop their own lessons, use them as-is, or simply use them as a jumping-off point for personal studies and Bible classes. Most of the outlines contain appropriate illustrations, and each sermon also has a list of song suggestions to go with the lesson. The outlines are also offered in an “organic outline” format for ease of reading and adaptation to the preacher’s own use.

“Plus, if you find yourself having to get a devotional talk together at the last minute, SermonTree.com also has “sermon seeds,” which are very brief outlines from which to develop your own lessons, and short devotional talks that would be appropriate for Wednesday night use,” Clifton said.

Those interested in seeing this concept in action can visit SermonTree.com and download a free sample issue.

With various sermon outlines available from a variety of sources on the internet, one might wonder why a subscription service like SermonTree.com is needed.

“Most of the outlines you find on the internet are the same ones you’ve been using for years,” Clifton commented. “SermonTree.com offers fresh material each month. And it’s not just outlines. We offer a complete toolbox for the working preacher to help craft powerful Biblical sermons, all from writers with a biblical understanding of the church and salvation.”

SermonTree.com also has feature stories on evangelism techniques, topics of interest for preachers, book reviews, and more.

An innovative approach to its sermon outlines is the use of an organic style in organization, rather than the usual numerical-alphabetical outline.

Who writes the material in SermonTree.com? Clifton, who preaches for the church of Christ at McCrory, Ark., develops most of the sermons in the magazine, but also accepts and publishes sermon outlines and articles from other preachers.

“We’ve had several great sermons and articles contributed by other brethren, and we’d like to have more sermon outlines and stories on successful evangelism techniques submitted to us for publication in the future,” he said. “The goal for SermonTree.com is to have a publication that prints the very best original sermon outlines of preachers of the church of Christ.”

If you are a preacher and would like to submit an article or sermon outline for publication, please contact SermonTree.com by using the form on the “About” page at the website.

Bulletin Digest changes hands, goes digital, continues print

Bulletin-Digest-logo21-300x127MCCRORY, Ark. (BNc) Bringing the popular brotherhood publication into the digital age will be the focus of new Bulletin Digest owners Matt and Darcy Clifton.

The Bulletin Digest has served the church by publishing sound biblical church bulletin articles, fillers, and graphics since 1982. Although the publication has been very successful in the print version, new technologies demand more options for congregations.

“Many churches have inquired about electronic versions of the Bulletin Digest to make it easier to cut-and-paste articles into their bulletins. Beginning with the July, 2013, issue, we will begin offering digital versions of the Digest, including a PDF (Portable Document Format) version and an online text version,” said Matt Clifton.

A digital subscription will allow subscribers access to both of these electronic versions, as well as a Kindle version for devotional reading.

“Although it has primarily been viewed as a tool for churches to help publish their bulletins, the Digest is also excellent devotional reading for individual members,” said Clifton. “It allows readers access to the best articles from faithful preachers around the country.”

Matt and Darsy Clifton

Matt and Darcy Clifton

Clifton, who has served the McCrory congregation for the past eight years, will serve as editor and publisher. He has been preaching for 10 years, and holds a Master of Divinity degree in ministerial leadership from Amridge University. His wife Darcy will serve as assistant publisher. She has a bachelor’s degree from Freed-Hardeman University and a master’s degree in counseling. They both have extensive backgrounds in publishing newspapers and graphic design.

Matt will continue serving the McCrory congregation full-time.

The Cliftons purchased the Digest from Charles and Jane Beebe of Abilene, Texas. Charles is an elder with the Baker Heights congregation.

“Charles and Jane have done a wonderful job with the Digest. We are so blessed to know them, and humbled to be able to carry this important work forward for the church,” Matt said. “In fact, the Beebe’s will continue to be a source of advice and wisdom for us as we move forward with the Digest.”

The Beebe’s also own a printing company that has printed the Digest for about 20 years, and Clifton said they will continue to use them as printers for the foreseeable future.

While an effort will be made to offer digital subscriptions, the Digest is by no means abandoning the printed version.

“There are still a lot of subscribers who value the printed version. If they find greater value in the digital version, we can switch them over to an electronic subscription. But there are no immediate plans to halt the printed version,” Clifton said.

In the coming weeks, churches can expect to be contacted by the new owners, both to introduce themselves personally and to inform churches of the new options.

“A digital subscription will mean articles can be copied directly from the publication and inserted into their bulletin with no fuss,” Clifton said. “It will also mean a lower subscription cost versus the print version.”

The Bulletin Digest is one of the most distinguished publications among churches of Christ. Congregations from all over the country submit bulletins, and articles are carefully selected for content and faithfulness to the scriptures.

“Our goal is for the Bulletin Digest to continue to be a source the church can trust for scriptural, useful material to streamline bulletin production, and also to publish excellent and edifying material for the individual reader.

To learn more about the Digest, visit the website, find them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

500 kids return to school through Partners in Progress sponsorship program

cambodia-school-kids

MAUMELLE, Ark. (BNc) — Five hundred children are back in school. Their parents had removed them from school and put them to work in the fields and sweatshop factories.

Pictured above is a group of elementary kids with Marie-Claire McDonough, who runs this program in Cambodia, with their new book bags.

Bill McDonough’s Parters in Progress ministry sponsors the Back to School Program (B2S) that seeks donations of $25 a year to put a child back in school and provide new opportunities.

Back To School Program (B2S)
Partners In Progress
P.O. Box 13989
Maumelle, AR 72113, USA

Evangelist Ted Knight eulogizes Joe Spaulding as ‘church builder’

Joe Spaulding church of Christ

Ted Knight (l.) and Joe Spaulding (r.) with their wives

SEARCY, Ark. (BNc) by Ted Knight — Many years ago I enrolled as a student at Harding College. At that time every student was assigned a counselor to assist them in making decisions or asking for help. My counselor was Dr. Joe Spaulding.

Of course, at 17 years of age, I didn’t need him then, but I would never have known that just a few years later, he would become not only a counselor but very dear friend who has lifted me up in more ways that I can count. Continue reading

Church turns out the building lights to shine in community

Lights-Out program

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BNc) — Get out of the building and do something for Christ! That’s the sentiment of the Somers Avenue congregation’s “Light’s Out” program announced for Dec. 30.

In the church’s bulletin, “The Observer,” for Dec. 2, came this announcement:

The building will be dark at 5 o’clock, Sunday evening, December 30th. Pews will be empty and the lights will be out. The electric lights will be off, but our lights will be “out” shining in the community. We anticipate another faith-building, enriching afternoon which will involve more than 150 members singing at nursing homes, baking cookies, writing cards, delivering cookies and cards to fire and police stations and hospitals, visiting other members, and prayer warriors intensely praying for this good work. Mark you calendars and make your plans for “Lights Out!” on the 30th.

Sean Ashberry, who works in preaching and member involvement with the congregation, kindly replied to BNc to explain further the Lights-Out approach. He tells in his words. Continue reading

VP Bruce McLarty named as Harding president

Harding University names president

Bruce McLarty

SEARCY, Ark (BNc) — Vice President of Spiritual Life Bruce McLarty has been named as the fifth Harding University president.

The announcement was made on Twitter and Facebook.

“I enthusiastically embrace the mission of Harding University,” McLarty said at the press conference in Cone Chapel at 1:30 p.m., CST.

He will replace David B. Burks when Burks retires from the position in June. Continue reading

400 ‘Truth’ DVDs distributed at Arkansas State Fair

Searching for Truth DVD

Truth DVD cover

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BNc) — The Somers Ave. church distributed over 400 Searching for Truth DVDs at the Arkansas State Fair, “400 souls who may be learning the Gospel today,” according to the congregation’s bulletin, “The Observer,” on Oct. 28.

The fair was held Oct. 12-21. The Somers Ave. church maintains a stand in the fair each year.

The Searching for Truth DVDs, produced by World Video Bible School and narrated by John Moore, contain six lessons that teach an introduction to the gospel. The lessons are also available online. Continue reading

Levy church gives special missions offering

Levy church of ChristNORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BNc) — The Levy church made its annual special contribution for missions yesterday, offering $275,921, missionary Ted Knight said.

With this special offering in hand, the missions committee considers every request made by missions efforts.

The annual event, called Harvest Sunday, featured guest speakers and an all-church luncheon. Continue reading