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American Missions and Cuba

From June 1 through June 8, 2015 I traveled to Cuba along with four other friends, two of which are mission agency executives. While this was their first trip to the island nation, it was my seventh. My wife was born in Cuba and that has allowed me access over the years in spite of the U.S. economic embargo against Havana. This was my first trip, however, in over a decade, and I was surprised to see the effect of the moderate economic openness which has recently been afforded to the citizenry. Whereas before everything was scarce and distributed by the government, there is now a burgeoning open market which has brought about eateries and small stores selling the necessities of life.

The goal of this trip, however, was not to evaluate the national economy or the freedoms of the populace. It was to ascertain the situation of Christianity in the country at this point in history, and more specifically to assess the future role that North American missionaries might play in a more open Cuba. We took advantage of the recently relaxed regulation of the U.S. embargo to travel under the invitation of a local church in the eastern part of the country. While no one knows what the final disposition of Congress will be toward the decades old division between the United States and Cuba, there seems to be growing willingness to restore relations and seek a new approach to fostering change in Havana. Assuming that change does come, we can anticipate a rush among American missionary organizations to establish a presence in Cuba.

skyline of havana

Skyline of Havana

The assumption of the average believer in the U.S. is that because American missionaries are not present in Cuba there is likely little Gospel activity there. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our visit revealed that the church of Jesus Christ in Cuba is very strong, very zealous, very obedient and growing very quickly. Again and again, as we traveled the length of the island, we came into contact with pastors whose churches were full of young, enthusiastic believers. In almost every case the existing churches had also started numerous daughter churches. Because the Castro regime prohibits the formal establishment of any new churches, these daughter churches are labeled house churches, or mission outreaches, of the recognized churches, but most have their own pastors and are functioning as subsidiaries of their parent congregations in name only. We interviewed many pastors who were leading their growing congregations while receiving no income except a few pesos a month from church offerings. Most of these men are bi-vocational and in the rural areas the majority are farmers. Their meeting places range from rooms in houses to make shift shelters to gatherings under a tree, but all of these congregations are growing through conversions and baptisms.

The Cuban church is characterized by joy, an appetite for doctrinal purity and a genuine hunger for sound, biblical teaching. Cuba’s current spectrum of evangelical churches reflects its missionary history, which dates back to the late 19th century. Many of the denominational groupings found in America are also found in Cuba, including Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists. The largest evangelical groups by far, however, are the Baptists, the Bible churches and the Pentecostals. In recent history, the Pentecostal churches seem to have been largely influenced by believers visiting from other Latin American countries and they reflect the typical patterns of excess (such as the health and wealth focus) found elsewhere. In the early years of missionary endeavor the Southern Baptist Convention made headway in the Western end of the island while the American (Northern) Baptist Convention gained ground in the East. From the time of the Revolution in 1959, the Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba (American Baptist influence), headquartered in Santiago de Cuba, has had little to no connection with American church life. The Western Baptist Convention of Cuba (Southern Baptist influence), headquartered in Havana has continued to have filial connections with the SBC. Both conventions function similarly to the SBC in the U.S., with autonomous local churches associating themselves and cooperating with the programs of the convention. The concept of “independent,” or non-affiliated churches is foreign to Cuba (and most of the world) since it has not shared the same ecclesiastic/political history as have churches in America. As has been mentioned, there is also a strong Bible Church denomination called Los Pinos Nuevos (The New Pines) located primarily in the central region of the country (Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Camagüey Provinces). Picture1Each of these denominations has its own educational institution or “seminary” (in Latin America what we would might a Bible College is often referred to as a seminary). Our group visited the seminary of the Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba in Santiago and met with its director as well as with the president of the convention. This school has a spacious, well maintained campus with residence facilities, a functional library and adequate classrooms to serve nearly 200 students. The economic situation in Cuba, however, currently promotes an enrollment of around 40. The Eastern Baptist Convention claims around 630 churches, with another 4000+ mission outreaches or house churches. The situation for the Western Baptist Convention in Havana is quite similar with some 500 churches (100 in Havana alone) and 5000+ mission outreaches or house churches. Though the New Pines Bible Church denomination is not as large, it is also thriving and growing.

The predominant competing religion in Cuba is not Roman Catholicism. Catholic churches are largely empty, being frequented mostly by the elderly. Most converts to Christ come from a background steeped in Santería, the Afro-Cuban religion of spirit worship. Santería is essentially animism with a veneer of Catholicism, and involves animal sacrifices and spirit possession. Nearly every Cuban is affected in some way by Santería and in practical terms it is the largest religion in the country. Yet the power of Christ is breaking the hold of Satan over multitudes of Cubans who are finding their freedom in the Gospel.

Christianity in the island today reveals a stark growth pattern since my previous visits to Cuba. Over and over we were told that when the country passed through its “special economic period” or economic collapse following the withdrawal of Soviet funds in the early 1990s, God began to revive the hearts of believers and they began to boldly proclaim the gospel. The past ten years in particular have represented a phenomenal growth pattern with countless thousands of people who have come to Christ. This is taking place in a nation with a resident population of around nine million people. Since Fidel Castro stepped aside and conceded authority to his brother Raúl in 2008, the country has enjoyed a relaxing of some of the harshest restrictions against Christianity and the believers have taken advantage of this opportunity to share Christ and see His church grow.

Everywhere our group went, we asked the question, “What can the church in America do for the church in Cuba?” The most consistent answer was simply this – “Be our friend.” The leaders of the church in Cuba are humble, sacrificial, dedicated men who frankly do not need us to come and tell them how to serve Christ in their own land. Picture2They do need money, given the fact that most of the churches are in a desperate state of disrepair and most of their pastors are unpaid or underpaid, but economic needs will largely be met by the Cubans themselves if the economic embargo is lifted and the country experiences a return to a true free market system. There is also need for training, although the church leaders we met do not want us to come and do their training for them. Their system of providing Bible school training for their primary leaders and local church, or church based Bible institute level training for their outreach pastors is functioning well overall. Still, they recognize that there is opportunity for higher level academic training on one end and effective theological education by extension on the other. Future American missionaries to the island should carefully consider how they can assist existing educational endeavors for ministry training before thinking of starting competing programs. The Cuban church also needs help with discipleship. The church is growing so fast that discipleship is not always occurring well. That said, however, we were impressed with the level of commitment to making disciples on all levels that was evident in every ministry we encountered. What is probably least needed in Cuba right now is foreigners planting churches. The pattern of growth is so strong right now in Cuba that the best thing we could do from the outside is fan the flames by helping them do what they are already doing.

The bottom line in Cuba is that there is a very strong church movement which is functioning well with very little help from America. Could it function better with more help? Yes, but only if our help comes in the form of humble service to our brothers and sisters who have bravely paid the price to serve Jesus in the midst of hardship and persecution. One of the biggest problems we encountered in Cuba was the exodus to America for an easier life of men trained for the ministry. Those heroic servants of Jesus Christ who have remained behind to make disciples in in extremely difficult conditions deserve our admiration and our willingness to submit to them as they pursue their vision of making disciples for Jesus in their homeland.

After our group spent several days with one pastor named Daniél who has zeal, vision and determination in biblical proportions, he asked us to evaluate his work. I told him, “Daniél, all true ministry consists of loving Jesus with all your heart and seeking to serve Him with all your strength, and you are doing that. Jesus told us to make disciples and He promised that He would build His church. You are making disciples and He is building His church. My evaluation is that you should keep doing what you are doing.” I added, “I wish more churches in America were like yours. We should come here to learn from you.” May the Lord give us opportunities in the future to stand shoulder to shoulder with men like Daniél in Cuba for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of Christ.

Looking toward the possibility of more openness for American missionaries serving in Cuba, some of the questions that need to be asked are:

  • Is the concept of a fully independent church (not aligned with any convention) something which we are compelled to import into a thriving church culture? If so, is this because of biblical reasons, or (more likely) because we feel the need to franchise our own culturally influenced experience of Christianity in other places?
  • Can we allow the church in Cuba to be Cuban and not feel compelled to impose our American worship styles (either traditional or contemporary) on it?
  • Can we use money to assist without creating dependencies which will stifle the willingness of the Cuban people to serve Christ freely as they do now?
  • What avenues for providing ministerial preparation are most advantageous? How do we join in what God is doing there without simply bringing in our pre-packaged programs which may or may not be helpful?
  • How can U.S. churches use mission teams to genuinely assist the churches in Cuba by enabling them through partnerships rather than simply providing feel good trips for ourselves?

In part the answer to all of these questions is that we need to develop relationships before effective ministry can be accomplished. My advice would be to go to Cuba, spend time enjoying what God is already doing there, then begin to ask how and where we can help. This process is often rushed and results in a lot of money and effort being misdirected. The watchword of missions for Cuba (and for all of the world in the 21st century) is partnership. I pray that we will do that well.

Love Multiplied

Cindy Garland and Grandaughter

A year ago, I found myself holding my newborn granddaughter—only she was not really my granddaughter. I had become a part of this family only seventeen months earlier, and that as a result of another’s death—and I now held that woman’s granddaughter, a little girl that will one day call me “Grandma.”

Though far more common in earlier centuries, remarriage after the death of a spouse is an uncomfortable topic for the church today. It seems—well, awkward. On the minds of many is a question they are afraid to ask: How do you love someone else again? Let me share my story, and in so doing, I hope, glorify the God who multiplies love.

I met my first husband, Steve, here at Bob Jones University. Both of us were pursuing graduate degrees, and our assistantships at the university brought us into close contact with each other. Steve impressed me as no other man had up to that point—godly, intent on serving others. However, there was one potential obstacle. Steve had been diagnosed with Hodgkins disease during his sophomore year in college, and he suffered his first recurrence of the disease during our first year of grad school. Treatments followed, and when he returned to school, we began dating. Despite the cancer, I had no doubt that God had given me a love for Steve, and in time, he had the same conviction. After a second recurrence and subsequent treatments, we were engaged. In 1989 we married, and we enjoyed six months of marriage busily serving the Lord and preparing for future ministry. Those blissful months were interrupted by the news that the cancer had returned, and for the rest of our married life, we dealt with his disease in one form or another. I suppose it was not a “normal” marriage, but I have no doubt it was the path God had for me, and I would not trade the years God gave us for anything. For nearly five years I saw a young man pursue the knowledge of God and ministry to other people despite obstacles that would have stopped many others. God even gave Steve the desire of his heart—a church to

pastor—a task he performed with all of his heart for the final ten months of his life. At the age of thirty-one, God called Steve Home, and at the age of thirty-two, I became a widow.

I will not minimize the heartbreak of losing my husband, but neither will I minimize the grace God poured out on me. Within weeks of Steve’s homegoing, God provided a ministry for me that would bring fulfillment, refining, and maturing, supervising a girls’ residence hall here at the university. Did I think about remarriage? Yes. However, in all honesty, the ministry God gave me provided so much joy and challenge that I did not have time to think much about it.

I walked the path of widowhood for seventeen years before God chose to bring someone else into my life. Doug’s path had been very different from mine. He and his first wife, Joyce, married before they finished college. God blessed them with four wonderful children. They were married for thirty-one years, all spent in Christian ministry. I was a widow for nearly twenty years; by the time we married, Doug had been a widower less than two. The main thing we shared in common was losing both of our spouses after long battles with cancer.

Doug and I were acquainted with each other since we both worked here at the university. After Joyce’s homegoing, Doug sought wisdom via email from other widowers and widows he knew, and I was one of them. Over time, our correspondence grew, as did our relationship. Mutual respect became mutual love, along with a desire to bring together two different personalities, backgrounds, and families into a new union for the glory of God. The result so far has been challenging but oh, so happy.

Shortly before we were married, a dear friend voiced the question others were (understandably) hesitant to ask: “How do you love another spouse?” Before I had a chance to answer, she said, “It must be like having more children. When you find out you’re expecting a second child, you wonder, ‘How can I ever love this child like I do the first?’ But you do. It must be like that.” I have pondered her words many times, and even though I have never had my own children, I think she was right. God’s love is like that—it is never static but is constantly expanding. When believing widows and widowers remarry, they have an opportunity to reflect this aspect of God’s love. And the precious granddaughter that I held in my arms a year ago, though not related to me by blood, has become related to me by love—God’s multiplying love.

Accommodating Evolution and the Problem of Evil

[This is a guest post by Brian Collins, who received his Ph.D. in Theology from Bob Jones University Seminary and serves as part of the Bible Integration Team at BJU Press. Brian also serves as an elder at Mount Calvary Baptist Church.]

Many Christians believe that it is important to find some way to harmonize the Bible with evolutionary theory. This belief is often linked with concerns for effective evangelism. Since evolutionary science is so widely accepted among scientists today, these Christians are worried that when faced with a choice between trusting the Bible and trusting science, many people will choose science. If conflict between evolution and Scripture can be lessened or removed, a major evangelistic obstacle will have been removed.

If the choice between the Bible and evolutionary science is indeed a false choice, then by all means evangelical scholars should show how the two harmonize. But when the attempt at harmonization is made, the necessity of the choice between the Bible and evolution quickly becomes evident.

First, biblical scholars have not been able to agree on an interpretation to replace a face-value, historical reading of the opening chapters of Genesis. This is clear in books like Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation. The lack of consensus on a replacement interpretation for these chapters raises questions about the viability of the alternative approaches.

Second, attempts to harmonize Scripture and evolutionary theory have profound theological consequences. Sometimes biblical interpretations are revised as scientific theories change. Phrases such as “the rising of the sun” (Ps. 113:3) are now understood as an idiom (one still used today) rather than a scientific description. Importantly, however, no change in hermeneutical approach to these passages was needed to make sense of these passages, and no doctrines are affected. The same is not the case with the most rigorous attempts to harmonize Genesis with the current prevailing theories of origins. Karl Giberson, in Saving Darwin, admits that a historical Adam and Eve, a historical Fall, original sin, and the distinctiveness of humans as made in the image of God are all casualties of harmonizing Genesis with evolutionary theory. All attempts at harmonization face the problem of death prior to the Fall.

Third, the problem of death and suffering before the Fall is far more serious than most theologians seem to realize. The conflict between evolution and Scripture is often seen as the chief apologetic challenge of the present time. But the chief philosophical challenge to Christianity is the problem of evil, and attempts to harmonize Scripture with evolutionary theory make defending Christianity against this challenge difficult if not impossible. The problem of evil has become more pointed as scientists learn more about certain animals’ sentience, capacity to experience pain, abilities to remember, and so forth. This has led many to conclude that animal suffering and death is a great evil. On this point the Bible is in agreement with modern science and philosophy. The Bible evidences concern for the wellbeing of animals (Prov. 12:10). The suffering of the non-human world is described as a condition of bondage, groaning, and pain as a result of sin (Rom. 8:20; Gen. 3:17-19). The earth awaits redemption (Rom. 8:23), and included in that redemption is the end of animal suffering and pain (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25).

Traditionally, Christians have defended against the problem of animal suffering and death by pointing to the Bible’s teaching that it is a result of the Fall (Rom. 5:12; 8:20). In seeking to defend Christianity against those who say it is scientifically ill-informed, Christians who seek to harmonize the Bible and evolution have removed the biblical explanation of the problem of evil in the animal world. This problem is so significant that theologian John Feinberg, who has focused much of his research on the problem of evil, believes it is one of three theological reasons for rejecting old-earth interpretations of the creation narratives (No One Like Him, 622-23).

The challenges we face as Christians today are really nothing new. Augustine reinterpreted the opening chapters of Genesis to harmonize Scripture with Platonic cosmology. Medieval Christians struggled to harmonize the Bible’s teaching about creation with Aristotle’s teaching that the world is eternal. Modern Christians face the challenge of Darwinism. Though the cosmologies of Plato and Aristotle can be readily dismissed today, they were seen as significant challenges to the Christian faith in their time. In another 1,000 years, if the Lord tarries, Darwinisim will doubtless hold the same place that the cosmologies of Plato and Aristotle now hold, and Christians will face new challenges. This fact argues for resisting calls for exegetically-forced harmonization and theological dubious reworkings of the Christian faith in the face of shifting scientific theories.

Four New Books You Have to Know About

[This is a guest post by Mark Ward, who received his Ph.D. in New Testament from Bob Jones University Seminary in 2012 and serves as part of the Bible Integration Team at BJU Press. Mark also has a ministry providing churches with beautiful and affordable websites.]

“New” in American culture means “good,” or at least “better.” It’s a moniker marketers never tire of using, because it works—and as long as it does, Tide detergent will reliably produce “new” formulations every so often.

But “new” is relative. The four brand new books I advertised in my title are startlingly new, but in at least two senses, they’re also quite old.

It’s time you were jolted typographically awake by four very new books rooted in very old traditions. I’m speaking of Bibliotheca, a Kickstarter (“crowdfunded“) project to produce a four-volume printing of the Bible in an innovative old way.

Designer Adam Greene, a young man steeped in the history of typography, is the force behind the project. The best way to communicate to you what’s new and old about his work is to show it to you.

First the outside:


Now the inside:


And again:


What do you see in this Bible? Or, rather, what do you not see?

You don’t see all the accoutrements you’ve come to view as normal, standard in a printing of the Bible. That’s what’s so new about Greene’s project.

c902_SCOclassic_inside2__4And that’s what’s so old—you see, we all have historical myopia when it comes to Bible editions. We are accustomed to a two-column format in which every verse is a separate paragraph and in which each page is packed with verse numbers and multiple systems of superscript footnoting1 and2 cross-referencing.a b We forget, however, that things were not always so. Verse numbers are a comparatively recent addition to the Bible text. If the Bible were a 65-year-old man, verse numbers were added when he was 56 ½. They’ve been around for about a tenth of the Bible’s history.

What does the standard two-column layout do to meaning? Arguably, it does something very bad: it not-so-subtly leads readers to view the “verse,” whatever that is, as the fundamental unit of Bible statement. (Whenever they’re not viewing the word that way—see Barr quote here.) Making every verse a paragraph is an invitation to atomistic exegesis. It doesn’t help you read with sensitivity to the context.

You simply must try reading a Bible with no chapter and verse numbers at all. It is a beautiful and helpful experience—if initially jarring. I began creating this experience for myself using a Microsoft Word macro about ten years ago. And, providentially, a slow trickle of Bible editions began coming out which made that experience available in codex form. My favorite of the lot is the also-new ESV Reader’s Bible from Crossway (the ESV website also has this functionality), but the Bibliotheca project is even better—it just uses a translation I’m less excited about, the 1901 ASV. (And it would cost me 15 months of my recently reduced book budget…=)

If you’re not sold yet, watch the video. It’s brand new!

The Priority of Personal Evangelism

In October of last year I preached a short and simple Bible message in our university chapel on the priority of personal evangelism from II Corinthians 3:18-4:7.

In this passage Paul presents the calling of believers.

  1. God Calls Believers to Be Christlike. God calls us to be like Jesus Christ, which includes developing a compassionate heart for the lost like His (II Cor. 3:18). (John 4 is a striking illustration of Jesus’ compassion.)
  2. God Calls Believers to Be Courageous. God calls us to not faint, to not lose heart, in our lives and ministry, so we must draw upon God’s unfailing strength (4:1, 16-18).
  3. God Calls Believers to Be Clear. God calls us to reject all false teaching, false “gospels,” and man-centered manipulation (4:2; cf. 2:17) and be clear and in our presentation of the gospel.
  4. God Calls Believers to Be Confident. God calls us to understand the difficulty of our challenge (4:3-4). God calls to have confidence in the supernatural power of Christ to save others, just as He has saved us. We preach Christ! (4:5-7).

The week after I preached that message I flew to Seattle to speak in some youth leadership conferences. I was praying that God would allow me to lead someone to Himself. On the flight from Detroit to Seattle I was seated in the middle seat of three seats. To my right was a young mother. She liked to travel and showed me some photos of her travels. I showed her some photos on my iPad from a trip my wife and I took to Israel, especially a photo of us at Gordon’s Calvary from the Garden Tomb area.   The woman had been reading a Bible her cousin gave her, and the Lord was preparing her heart for our conversation. She listened carefully as I took much time to explain the gospel thoroughly to her.

She asked why Jews do not receive Jesus as their Messiah. I took her back to II Corinthians 3 and 4 and explained the blindness of unbelief that veils the Jewish, and for that matter, the Gentile heart. It occurred to me as I explained this passage to her that God was opening her eyes to the gospel as I spoke. I asked her, “Do you believe that God is drawing you to Himself?” She answered “yes.”   I said, “Would you like to receive Christ now?” She said “I would.” She prayed aloud (her choice) as I led in the sinner’s prayer. I talked further with her, gave her follow-up material, and recommended a church for her, whose pastor is seeking to help her.   I called my wife right after getting off of the plane to share the great news with her.

Sometimes we complicate the simplicity of personal evangelism. I like what one of our missionary graduates says about reaching others: “Pray, meet people, tell them about Jesus.” It’s just that simple.

Bob Jones University was founded by evangelist, Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., who said, “It takes evangelistic unction to make orthodoxy function.” Today we are still trying to instill an evangelistic spirit in our students. Dr. Bob Jones III reminds our students on a regular basis that “the most sobering reality in the world today is that people are dying and going to hell today.”

What is evangelism? Evangelism is the proclaiming of the good news that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again to pay fully and finally the penalty of sin (1 Cor. 15:3, 4). Evangelism applies His saving work to the sin­ner’s need of forgiveness and escape from the awful, eternal wrath of God in the lake of fire. The sinner is urged to repent (Luke 13:3; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 20:21) and believe (Acts 16:31). The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner of his need (John 16:7-11). The sinner calls on the Lord to save him from sin’s penalty in hell unto salvation and its sure promise of eternal life in heaven. He experienc­es the new birth and obtains new life (John 3:3-8). Salvation results in a thor­ough change of life which will affect every area of life (2 Cor. 5:17).

The New Testament not only emphasizes evangelism but also discipleship. Discipleship is the process of teaching the believer Bible truth, with an emphasis upon both sound doctrine and living. Acts 16:5 captures the spirit of evangelism and discipleship: “And so were the churches established in the faith and increased in number daily.”

Good evangelism produces new disciples, and good discipleship produces vibrant evangelism.

A Few Tech Tools Every Small Church Should Have

[This is a guest post by Mark Ward, who received his Ph.D. in New Testament from Bob Jones University Seminary in 2012 and serves as part of the Bible Integration Team at BJU Press. Mark also has a ministry providing churches with beautiful and affordable websites.]

We live in an Internet world. If your church doesn’t have a website, it’s invisible. If it has a bad website, well, there’s something worse than invisible.

Even the smallest church needs some tech tools to make itself credibly visible to its community. At least in America, it’s a matter of your testimony for Christ. It’s that serious.

But a credible Internet presence requires a few more tools than just a website. Here is my short list of essential tech tools your small church needs, divided into four categories:

1. Internet

240px-WordPress_logo.svgYou need a WordPress website. Total cost: $500+. Honestly, you probably need a professional to work with you no matter what kind of website you choose. I can give you names of companies who are dirt cheap but do good work. (I own one of them, or I’d tell you the names.) If you positively refuse to consider hiring someone, Squarespace is my recommendation. If, on the other hand, you’re that rare small church with a sizable endowment from a wealthy former parishioner, I recommend Church Plant Media and Your Creative People. You get what you pay for with them: excellent work. And by the way, you need a logo, too—and only a professional can make a nice one. You might, however, get away with buying a stock logo.

2. Photography

d3100You need a Nikon D3100 with the kit lens, a zoom lens, a camera bag, and a tripod. Total cost: $600 if you shop a little (try Craigslist). Every church should have a D3100 that is owned by the church and cared for by a designated photographer. But youth leaders and Bible club leaders should have access to it and should get a little bit of training on how to use it. And they should use it, and regularly. I have used mine to shoot weddings, church directory pics, Bible club shots—anything a church could want. I pretend to be a pro, and a lot of people believe me, but the truth is that I only ever shoot in auto mode. (I do post-processing like the pros, however—and if you have an artistic person in the church you might consider doing the same.) Make updating photos on your Facebook page and/or website an important ministry, one you would never neglect, like changing the messages on your church sign.

3. Video

You need a Nikon D3100. Yes, a D3100 also does video. But only on a tripod and only with adequate lighting. And the microphone in the camera is not meant to do much (see “Audio” below). Doing good video is not easy, but with a little bit of Internet research you can set up a believable lighting system to at least do a talking-head interview like this one. That’s probably all the good video you’ll ever need. For videos of camp you don’t have to get fancy. The D3100 will do fine. You mainly want it for photos.

Adobe has also come out with a great iPad app that will allow you to make a promo video without shooting any actual footage. As always, use the people in the church who are gifted artistically to do this.

You probably need a projector; maybe not. This is the top-seller on Amazon right now.

4. Audio

jpegYou need a Zoom H2n. Cost: $160. I use the Zoom H2 (the previous version of the Zoom H2n) when taking video, and it sounds fantastic, very professional. Don’t ever try to take a serious video—like a welcome-I’m-the-pastor video—without one. It will sound terrible. And the Zoom H2n can take great sermon recordings. It puts them right onto an SD card, making it easy to upload sermons to your website or to a service like SermonAudio. An Apple iPad can actually take very passable audio recordings, too—unless the pastor wanders around the pulpit a great deal.


There is a very definite generation gap between pastors who value the Internet and those who don’t. I’m genuinely not sure that my (younger) generation is right to value it so highly, but I can tell you that potential visitors do. They will judge you by your website. As a web designer, I have heard more than once that a church’s website was the sole reason a family decided to visit. And the photography, video, and audio on that site are an integral part of your face—quite literally—the whole world. Use gifted people in your assembly and commit some money to it. It’s the world we live in now.