CEM and Barnabas Ministries are setting up an Internetwork
By Mac Overton
Computer and Internet expert Alan Ruth of Farmington Hills, Mich., is working with Ron Dart's Christian Educational Ministries of Tyler, Texas, on a new twist to preaching the gospel via the Internet.
Mr. Ruth's plan is to create the CEM Internetwork--a set of participating Web sites--to carry Mr. Dart's daily Born to Win radio program.
"Mr. Dart currently has the CEM Network, which is composed of all the radio stations that carry his Born to Win broadcast," Mr. Ruth said. "The CEM Internetwork, as I've proposed we call it, will be composed of all the Internet Web sites that carry his daily broadcast."
Although primarily a text-based medium, the Internet is rapidly adding audio and video content. Such would be the case with the CEM Internetwork, which would feature the audio feed from Born to Win. Web visitors could hear Mr. Dart's voice through the speakers of their desktop or laptop computers.
Out of the blue
Mr. Dart told The Journal he is excited about Mr. Ruth's brainchild.
"Alan's idea came out of the blue to us," Mr. Dart said Nov. 26. "It will help simplify things for us to have a third party like Alan handling it. I'm very glad to know he is taking off with it."
Mr. Ruth said making Born to Win available on the Internet will be relatively easy.
"CEM already digitizes its radio programs for those who visit its Web site," he said. "A digitized radio program in RealAudio format, with a description of the program, will soon be available as a feed into any Web site in the world."
Mr. Ruth is actively inviting other Church of Godrelated Web sites to Internetwork, so to speak, by making Born to Win available to their visitors.
"First, you would be helping spread the gospel to a far wider audience than is currently done," he said. "Ron's radio programs are tailored for the world, the unwashed masses that have no Church of God or church background and who likely never even heard of what the greater Church of God believes.
"Ron's show is therefore already ideal for reaching the growing audience on the Net.
"Second, since Ron has a daily program, participants' sites will be carrying a brand-new show each day."
This will help Web sites attract more visitors and more repeat visitors.
"Once set up, you will have a section of your site that is updated automatically."
How did this idea come about?
"About two weeks ago it suddenly occurred to me that we in the COG could spread the gospel much faster by providing a feed of our materials to Web sites. To be highly effective, however, these feeds would have to be tailored to those without a Church of God background and not contain references to our glorious history or discuss topics way over people's heads.
"Plus, such feeds would have to be updated very frequently, either daily or weekly, and be easy to implement."
Mr. Dart remarked that "Alan saw the possibility and said let's do it," so "I agreed."
Mr. Ruth has built Web sites for four years. His own--which makes available multiple megabytes of Church of Godrelated information to anybody with a modem, is at www.biblestudy.org.
Alternative to radio
Mr. Dart told The Journal that Internetworkers will have a "spot" on their Web sites that, when clicked, will automatically link an Internet user to the day's program.
"Things are changing so fast," he said. "I knew it was possible but did not know how to carry it out" until Mr. Ruth came up with the suggestion.
Mr. Dart said the speed at which technology changes and grows is "mind-boggling. I try to keep up with developments in the computer field, and this is beyond even what I knew."
Mr. Dart discussed the concept with the engineer for his radio program, who told him that people are increasingly turning to the Internet for background music or information at work, rather than turning on a radio.
Another advantage is that people in areas not covered by a station carrying Born to Win can access the program if they have Internet access.
RealAudio, which will be needed to play the programs, is available in its basic version as a free download from the Internet.
Mr. Dart said the possibility exists that an archive of broadcasts will be accessible, if the concept catches on.
"The whole project is really daunting," he said. "I have 600 sermons on tape and 300-plus radio programs which could be made available."
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God