How You Can Help This Ministry

Praying for this ministry

Quite simply, the one single thing you can do to help this ministry the most is to pray for it consistently. Scripture is clear that God does listen to our prayers asked in faith (for example, compare 1 John 5:14-15, 1 Peter 3:12, John 9:31). You can call down God’s divine aid kind of like a soldier on the ground calling down a targeted airstrike from command HQ. All you have to do is ask!

Sharing this ministry

Teaching over marketing fanfare in general

As a matter of principle for ministries, teaching (as opposed to marketing) should always come first and be prioritized, because God can bring the people interested in the truth according to His perfect plan. (To put things differently, God Himself is our marketing department).

Unlike other individuals interested in power, fame, wealth, worldly respect, and so on, teachers ought to be solely focused on the spiritual growth of their flocks. For this reason, even if it runs counter to these other things like money and fame, teachers need to teach the truth and leave the rest in the Lord’s hands. Just look at many of the Old Testament prophets. If success were measured in terms of money and numbers, then their ministries did not succeed. Rather than receiving the support and respect of the people, they were instead beaten and put to death at their hands. Yet we know that they did succeed… because what matters is doing what God would have us do, not how many people clap at our speech.

This ministry in particular

While I make every reasonable effort on my own to increase the visibility of this ministry, I refuse to cross certain lines. I will not buy ads. I will not participate in shady marketing practices. I will not change the things I write about in order to cater to a broader audience (compare the prosperity gospel) – the truth is the truth.

Further, consider the fact that I am but one person, swimming in waters with some churches that have hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of followers, broad social media networks, and things of this sort. In our modern environment, crowded and noisy, the little fish have the cards stacked against them more now than ever before.

So what’s your point?

The point of me bringing all these things up is simply that this ministry is at somewhat of of a visibility disadvantage due to its priorities and the choices I have made. Given this, word-of-mouth sharing takes on greater importance.

I won’t say anything like “blast this site on all your social media channels!” because, truly, I think that is less effective than sharing it selectively with people who are likely to actually be interested. The point is that if you find this site (or even just some specific writing on it) to be helpful, then you can help this ministry greatly by taking the time to share that which you find useful with others.

To be clear: I don’t wish for anyone to feel any pressure to share something they aren’t actually fired up about. If you don’t personally find something useful, don’t share it. If, however, you do find value in something, well then given the visibility disadvantage this ministry is constrained to operate under, how are other people going to to hear about it if you don’t share your experience?

Getting involved in this ministry’s community

Forums

This site runs forums for readers to interact with one another. You can read more about these forums here.

Forums that suffer from inactivity are not nearly as useful and engaging as those that stay relatively active. For this reason, if you are looking to help out this ministry, getting involved (or more involved, as the case may be) on the forums is one excellent way to do that.

You don’t have to go around writing out perfectly-formed profound thoughts or anything – please don’t feel any pressure! The idea is simply to have more people actively participating rather than just a small handful of us.

Weekly online Bible studies

This site also runs weekly online Bible studies over Zoom. You can read more about these online Bible studies here, and also see the recording archives on YouTube.

While these online Bible studies do not benefit from additional participants quite as much as the forums (as participating teachers can keep the conversation going just fine if we need to), these studies also benefit from having more perspectives, particularly in terms of asking good questions to steer what we talk about towards areas that need addressing – areas that we might not otherwise hit.

Again, you don’t have to be a great speaker or anything to participate. (I’m definitely not!)

Making yourself available on the contact network

Lastly in terms of community, this site also has a contact network that I maintain to help connect people with each other.

I can do this based solely on my own personal knowledge of my contacts, but the process is helped along substantially if people willing to participate in the network give me some feedback about how they wish to be tapped.

For example, let’s say I have a friend named M. (This person is completely made up for this example). Based on when we were in classes together, I know that M was a sociology major, and also felt like his calling in life was evangelism. He was studying different cultures in an effort to understand them such that he might better share the gospel with people from them.

Since we are no longer in college, I only occasionally talk to M. Let’s say since the last time I talked to him, M moved to a majority-Muslim country for the sake of his mission work, but I do not know this. Thus, when another correspondent asks me if I know anybody with experience in Muslim-targeted evangelism, I say I don’t know anyone… even though I know M and that’s exactly what M is doing!

The point of this example: the more knowledge (and specifically, the more up-to-date knowledge) I have about people in this network, the more effective it is. So if you want to participate in the contact network, you can help this ministry out by letting me know how you can best be used, and how your areas of contribution might change over time. In terms of this example, if M had just sent me a quick update when he started his Muslim-targeted evangelism, I would have been able to successfully send my other correspondent his way.

Helping improve this ministry’s content

Written medium

As to the actual mechanics of how you can make contributions to written content, please see Making Edits and Improvements to the Site’s Written Content.

Making the writing more accessible

As explained on the page describing writing level, since maintaining two separate levels of writing for every piece of content (one simpler level for children, non-native English speakers, and folks without much education, and the other level more advanced and academic in nature) is far too time consuming, I instead endeavor to make all writing on this site as accessible as possible. The basic idea is to always avoid complexity and things lower-level readers might struggle with unless they are more or less necessary.

Now, this all sounds well-and-good, but the problem is that years of writing college papers beat into me a style of writing that is not this. In short, it takes effort on my part to write in an accessible way, and I still fall into stuffy academic prose rather easily.

This being the case, any time you see some writing on the site where your first thought is “this is more complicated than it needs to be” or “we could use this shorter and much-more-common synonym in place of this complicated technical term” or “this sentence is far too long, and we could split it up here and here to make things easier to follow” or anything else like this, please make the change requests! In some cases I am blind to how arcane my own writing sounds, because, well, it’s my own writing.

Most all kinds of content edits and improvements are encapsulated in this concept of making the writing on the site more accessible. While much of what I have mentioned above deals explicitly with the idea of simplification, making the writing more accessible does not necessarily always involve direct simplification. For example, reordering the points in a section to improve clarity also makes the writing more accessible, even if not simpler per se.

Fixing typos

Please also feel free to submit change requests for fixing typos. I am always astounded by how many typos crop up despite my best efforts to edit and proofread my own writing before publishing it.

Video medium

Creating timestamps for posted videos

Creating timestamps for videos is enormously helpful in that it allows viewers to navigate to specific places in videos, by topic. There is one big problem with timestamps for videos: they are time-consuming to make.

Due to limits on my own time (mostly a desire to get out a greater overall volume of teaching), I have decided that making timestamps for videos is not something that I myself will do. If you want to help this ministry, however, making timestamps for posted videos is something that would definitely help improve the video content that this ministry offers.

A couple notes:

  • You can see an example of timestamps for a Bible study recording in the description of this video.

  • You do kind of need to follow the content of the videos to be able to make good timestamps.

  • Videos from the general Bible study, Greek study, or Hebrew study would probably be the best ones to prioritize.

If you are interested in helping out the ministry in this capacity, please contact me (steven@bibledocs.org).