For all Shepherd’s Light ministry folks, here’s an update on where we are headed. Ben has been working on our new ministry website, and its a beauty! I have been working on a new aspect to our ministry that will support our existing ministries and also be used to reach any and all areas in Israel where we have not been able to plant ministries. The new functionality I have been working on is basically “online church”. In other words, seeking videos we will be producing will be shown as a “service” including worship and teaching of the Word of God.
These service “events” will be on a part of the “online church” webpage along with their respective titles and times of the services. A countdown timer will display the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the beginning of the “service”. Not only is there a button to press to remind (via text to their phone) a viewer of the imminent start of a “service”, but there is also a place to the right of each “service” event to “invite” anyone to the service using their email address. Then, a link will be presented to them in the email, which they can click on to get to the “online church” webpage. No “membership” or log in is needed for folks to come by and view the service and participate in the chat sessions.
Now, I need to point out something here. This “online church” is not meant as a replacement for a physical church and the fellowship associated with that and vital to the members. It is meant specifically to reach those who have requested that we plant a church in their town or city in Israel, but that we had no resources and personnel to do so. Believers in Israel are relatively few in numbers, and they exist in a lonely environment. What is needed is the teaching of the Word, and the fellowship of fellow believers to encourage and pray with one another. Given the choice of having a physical church with a present pastor and other believers … I wholeheartedly would go for that option. But, when a physical church is not present, I believe it is better to have something like this “online church” where a viewer can feel like they belong and can be taught the Word of God and grow in Christ and fellowship with other believers for encouragement, growth and prayer. I believe this type of “online church” can be used to reach others who are interested in the Gospel’s message, but either do not have a church in their area or are afraid to go inside a church. In this way, this type of application is a missionary outreach in which the Good News of Jesus Christ can be within reach of each and every person both in Israel and around the world.
Then, a quick note about video and service production. If you look at some of our previous videos, the word “professional” does not immediately come to mind. 🙂 But, from now on we will be filming and producing very nicely done videos that are professional, inviting and informative. We have invested in new video production equipment and lighting and gear and have a wonderful direction and plan from the Lord about how to proceed. He has put a vision in our hearts that was totally out of the blue and unexpected. And the more we dive into the details, the more excited we are.
So lets get into the nuts and bolts of this “online church” a bit. Here’s where the online church is presently … Focus is still Israel, of course, as Ben’s new website shows. His website, with a few aesthetic modifications and new photos, will be our detailed online presence for information on the ministry and details on how to participate in the ministry to Israel. The new website will pass seamlessly to the online church app and back and forth effortlessly. The two sites augment and build upon one another. This “online church” site works hand in hand with the website and is primarily for people to view services and participate in live fellowship chats with one another from 15 minutes before the “service” begins and through 15 minutes after the “service” begins. An online “chat host” will monitor chats and have the ability to block any person being a problem. Prayer may be requested either in the chat window (which will be in the area where the calendar events are shown) or by clicking on the button for requesting prayer at the bottom of the site page.
Chats can discuss what is being said in the message. Another icon in the 5-icon vertical icon strip between the video and events/chat area can select most current versions of the Bible in order for the viewer to follow along in the Scriptures during the service. And still another icon there allows the user to bring up a rich text notepad for taking notes that they can subsequently email themselves. The last icon in the icon strip with the three horizontal dots contains the four steps to peace with God as originally developed by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We have elaborated on these steps to increase understandability. So a chat host (who is trained to lead people to Christ and is solid in Scriptural understanding) can have a viewer open up the Steps to Peace with God icon and go through them to lead a person to Christ. Additionally, another chat participant can also go through the four steps with another viewer … always under the watchful eye of the ministry chat host.
Then, anyone requesting prayer can be switched to a private chat window where the ministry chat host can talk with the person requesting prayer. The ministry chat host has their own “chat host management” page that lets them monitor the video, the public chat window, and any private chat they are conducting with those who need prayer. As mentioned earlier, the chat session can begin any number of minutes prior to the automatic playing of the service video. This simulates the “doors open” phase of traditional church services. It is a time when people can chat and fellowship. As mentioned earlier, the chat capabilities extends to after the service video has ended to support the same type of fellowship and simulate a traditional service.
Finally, a drop down menu, marked “MENU>” can be selected by pressing on the downward pointing arrow beside that designation. Then pages from Ben’s new main website for us can be selected and viewed. A “GIVE” button at the upper right of the online church page affords the opportunity to give tithes and/or donations/offerings safely and easily with receipts to the giver. And tax-deductible receipts are sent out for all donations given.
Well, I’ve taken a bit of time to describe this vision. I believe the Lord placed these things on our hearts, and I’m sure more things will be revealed as we go along. Like all of you, we commit our ways to the Lord and trust Him in faith to direct our steps. Shown below is a screenshot of the new “online church” site. I have seen the new regular website that Ben has designed for us, and cannot wait for you all to see it too. If all this sounds overwhelming and extremely technical, don’t worry. You don’t have to be a solid state physicist to turn on a light switch and use electricity to light your room. We just wanted to show you that the Lord is doing great things, and they will be going live pretty quickly.
My apologies for grammar errors, typos and general lack of wisdom in various areas. Thank you for your patience in reading such a long document. But I believe it describes a very important chapter in our ministry, and I hope you become excited too. Below is the screenshot I spoke of. I could never express my thanks for each and every one of you who have set aside the worlds view of life and chosen to labor in our Heavenly Father’s harvest field. You are always in our prayers.
In His unfailing care,