by Terry Wilhite
An enormous amount of work goes into preparing a sermon that is usually delivered just one time. What if you could offer members in your congregation a resource that was so innovative that they would be compelled to listen to it again at work or home?
Greenbay, Wisconsin, software developer Gary Lucas has become somewhat of a celebrity for doing just that. While he has been recently featured in the “Religion” section of the Greenbay Press-Gazette, the news of how he is using technology to spread the gospel is reaching pastors across the country and soon his talent will be used internationally. The former IBM software developer offers pastors an IMB (Interactive Multimedia Bible). As a pastor, all you need to do is supply Lucas with the audio/video from your sermon and he digitizes it to CD-ROM and links Scripture verses to it.
If you provided your content to Lucas, viewers of the CDs would see you in one “window” on the computer screen and an open Bible to the left, turned to the Scripture passages you reference in your messages. With Lucas’ technology, your viewers would also have the option of reading the Bible passages themselves or have a computer voice read it, a benefit for those who have trouble pronouncing difficult words used in Scripture. Lucas can organize your sermon or services by date, topic, or by speaker. When you scroll through the electronic Bible, Scriptures that have related content are specially marked. A viewer can “click” on a marked verse and hear the part of the sermon that relates to the verse.
“The IMB CD is very innovative in that you can play music or teachings in your car and then also play it in your computer at home and see all the video components,” Lucas says.
Lucas says he got the idea for his IMB because he wanted to continue listening to a favorite Sunday school teacher. “As a financial-information software developer who has taken up multimedia as a second career, I asked how I could use my data retrieval background and my new skills as a multimedia developer to create an engaging tool,” he says. While still a new venture for him, he’s received a lot of interest in what he is doing. For example, Bishop Steven Arnold of Little Rock, Arkansas, has tapped Lucas to help him develop a global ministry using Testament Technologies’ interactive tool. Segwick Daniels of Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ is using it as an outreach resource.
The software developer says he realizes that sometimes ministers are a little hesitant to use technology such as this, but he points out that there’s one group who doesn’t need to be convinced. “The young people eat it up. I had a father tell me, ‘My son thinks he’s too cool to carry the Bible, but he carries the IMB CD with him instead.’” Older members like having the Scripture read to them at just the click of their computer mouse.
“All you have to do,” Lucas says, “is send us a video tape of your teachings and any other items that support your teaching, such as pictures and Microsoft Word documents, that you want to use as supplemental and cross referencing information. Then just tell us what translation of the Bible you want to use. We offer several. If you need multi-lingual support, we offer translation services in 30 languages, including sign language.”
Lucas can even prepare your audio, video, and Scripture links so that they can be viewed on the Internet. “We provide the Website for the multimedia. All a church has to do then is to link its site to our site.”
He suggests the IMB can be a self-supporting ministry. In my opinion, his services are in line with other such multimedia services. “We charge $350 to digitize 45 minutes of tape. The cost per CD is $4.” Lucas has a winning idea. I recommend that you check it out so that you can see what’s possible with technology. You can reach him by calling 920-995-2680.
Are we meeting your needs with this column? I’m in the process of developing topics now for the next several months. Submit your ideas by logging onto my Website, www.terrywilhite.com. You’ll find several reader survey questions there and an on-line discussion forum. Current topics include: Hymnbooks vs. Projection; Technology Training in Church; and “Selling” Technology to the Finance Committee. Thanks in advance for your topic ideas and feedback.
Terry Wilhite is a music,
multimedia, and communications specialist.