If an American of Islamic faith wants to pray to Allah while listening to an Arabic call to prayer, he can turn his computer on, connect to (log on) IslamiCity, and listen to the call to prayer in Arabic as he knells facing Mecca. If an American Buddhist wants to hear a "message of enlightenment" as a Buddhist teacher discusses the meaning of life, he connects to (logs on) BuddhaNet. If an American Jew wants a prayer placed at the Western Wall of the temple mount in Jerusalem, he sends his prayer to and a student in Jerusalem will place his prayer at the wall.

Printing using movable type was invented in 1436. Before the printing press, nothing was in print. Can you imagine the entire world with nothing printed? Today, absolutely everything is in print. The most immoral, ungodly material imaginable is in print. But, the Bible is also in every major language and in many minor languages. The finest Bible study aids to ever exist are in print. And a world without printed languages is unimaginable.

In a brief period of time the Internet is doing what it took the printing press hundreds of years to do. Some things on the Internet are ungodly beyond imagination. At the same time, the Internet creates our greatest opportunity to share spiritual teaching with the world. It is an incredible tool for evangelism. With all its faults and dangers, the Internet is fast becoming a primary means for sharing Jesus Christ with the world.

The Barna Research Group has found that one out of every sixteen American teenagers are using the Internet right now for spiritual input. The Barna group estimates that in a decade, by the year 2010, between ten and twenty per cent of all Internet users will rely exclusively on the Internet to worship or to access their faith. To put that in perspective, today considerably less than forty per cent of Americans attend a place of worship once a month.

  1. This congregation was the second church (of any kind) in Arkansas to establish a Web site; that occurred on December 2, 1995.
    1. The number of "visits" being made to our Web site is steadily growing.
      1. In the month of December (1998) 96,025 "visits" were made to our Web site.
      2. Those "visits" represent thousands of people, and the number of "visits" is steadily increasing.
    2. Among those "visiting" in December were:
      1. Fifteen people who chose to take a Bible Correspondence Course by e-mail.
        1. This congregation can provide a Bible correspondence course by e-mail anywhere in the world. If a person has access to a computer and an Internet address, we can talk to him or her very quickly.
        2. West-Ark has at least twelve teachers teaching students by e-mail, and we need more teachers right now.
      2. We also had "visits" from people from at least fifty-three different countries.
        1. Look at the list.
        2. Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominica, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Togo, Ukraine, United States, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom.
        3. What would it cost to send a teacher for a three week missions visit to each of those countries?
        4. What would it cost to send literature to each "visitor" in those countries who visited our Web site just in the month of December?
        5. Do you realize that we are not allowed to send religious material into some of those countries?

  2. When someone "visits" our Web site, what will they find?
    1. It is literally impossible for me to tell you or show you everything a person can find at our Web site; there is too much.
      1. Michael Cole tells me that if you devoted one entire week to doing nothing but reading material on our Web site, you could not read it all in that week.
      2. I want to show you some examples of what you can find.
        1. Please understand this: what you see is just the beginnings of sections of material.
        2. Following each of these "openings," there are pages and pages of material in that section (at that site).
        3. We cannot show you the openings to all the sections in our Web site; this is just a sample of what you will find.
    2. You should see the "opening" of a section on the screen as I discuss them.
      1. First, this is our Internet address (
        1. Any person in the world who has access to a computer linked to the Internet can type in that address and connect to our Web site.
        2. We urge you to share this address every possible opportunity you have.
        3. If you want to help someone become acquainted with this congregation, give them this address.
          1. If you want someone to read the sermons, give them this address.
          2. If you want someone to learn about the work we do, give them this address.
          3. Nothing can give a person more information about this congregation than visiting our Web site.
      2. If you start at the Web site's beginning, this is the first page, our "Home Page."
        1. It has a basic directory to the areas of information that are available.
        2. It allows you to go directly to the area of interest.
      3. If you want to begin an evangelistic Bible study, you can.
        1. A person can sign up for Bible correspondence by e-mail.
        2. Again, twelve teachers study with e-mail students, and we need teachers.
      4. If you want to better understand how to accept the salvation God provides us in Jesus Christ, you can visit this section and study the plan of salvation.
      5. If you want to know the resources we offer to help you study the Bible on our Web site, OnLine Library will take you to those resources quickly.
      6. An article will reveal how Jesus Christ fulfilled prophecy.
      7. A section contains John Lankford's articles on Christian evidences.
        1. John has researched this area, and he has written a number of articles.
        2. This section gives the full text of John's articles.
      8. A section provides answers to questions that we are frequently asked.
      9. A section is devoted to the materials that I wrote or presented.
        1. One of my books is offered free within the United States; if a person sends $2 to cover postage and handling, we will send him or her the book. Weekly, we receive requests for the book.
        2. I plan to place the full text of one of my books, now out of print, on our Web site. If people "visit" it, I will place more of my books in full text on it.
        3. The 185 sermons I have presented at West Ark are given in full text.
          1. Every Monday, Michael places Sunday's sermons in this section.
          2. You can locate a sermon by the date it was presented.
          3. You can locate a sermon by title; they are given in alphabetical order.
          4. You can examine every sermon that contains a specific word or phrase.
          5. The fact that we place new material on our site every week is one reason that our site receives so many "visits."
        4. This section also has 73 articles that I have written for the bulletin, the first chapters of the books that I have written, and the complete text for three series of lessons presented on Wednesday nights.
        5. For example, this is tonight's sermon as it will appear on our Web site tomorrow.
      10. Dena Jenkins designed a section for the ladies' WINGS Bible classes.
        1. WINGS stands for Women IN God's Service.
        2. This section introduces people to the objectives and purposes of WINGS.
      11. A section contains the lectures that Jeannie Cole presented to WINGS Ladies' Bible Classes beginning in 1988.
        1. If you ask the Internet to search for "ladies' Bible Class," Jeannie's material will be the first listing in 4.6 million Web pages under "ladies Bible class." (Based on search of AltaVista on 24 January.)
        2. The first listing is Jeannie's material; looking at her classes will bring a person to our Web site.
      12. Each minister has a Web page. Brad's focuses on the teenagers.
        1. On Brad's page is a "link" that will connect you to movie reviews that are presented from a Christian perspective.
      13. So you say, "Time out! Time out! That is too much material! What if I want to visit our site to find just one thing?"
        1. Our Web site is equipped with a search engine.
        2. If you go to the search engine and type in what you want to find, it will show you every place in our Web site that this subject appears.
        3. It is not necessary to read everything to find something; you can quickly find a subject.
      14. If you are visiting Fort Smith, or if you are moving to Fort Smith, or if you are just curious about Fort Smith, a section that will give you tons of information about Fort Smith--weather, Chamber of Commerce, TV stations, newspaper, and on and on.
      15. If you live within 1000 miles of Fort Smith and want to know how to get to our church building, a section that will draw you a map, give you written instructions, and tell you the exact distance and driving time.
      16. A section will give you pictures of the elders, the deacons, the ministers, and the secretaries (so you can find a familiar face if you are visiting).
      17. A section will tell you about our ministries; it contains all the information found in "What's Happening At West-Ark."
      18. A section that will give you an overview of our missions work.
      19. A page is devoted to our work in Guyana.
        1. It includes what a campaign group does in Guyana.
        2. It also includes the 105 members of West-Ark who made the trip.
      20. A page discusses the situation in Laos and includes a message in the Lao.
      21. There is an introduction to the work of C.U.R.E.
      22. And there is a directory to all the members here who have e-mail addresses.
    3. No, that's not all.
      1. There is a directory to Churches of Christ worldwide.
      2. There are articles written by a number of people including Roy Dunavin, Michael Cole, and Earl Flood.
      3. There is an article in Spanish, an article in Italian, and an article in Lao.
      4. There is a restoration plea. (And here.)
      5. And there are "links" that can quickly connect you to other Web sites.
    4. Is that all? No. But I hope you do get the idea.

Obviously, this involves an enormous amount of work. A few years ago Michael Cole saw the incredible opportunity and the unbelievable potential. It is his tireless determination that develops and maintains this site. He saw what few of us saw, and perhaps still do not see. To him it is not a hobby; it is a powerful opportunity to fulfill the great commission. He spends on average six hours a day making our Web site one of the best church Web sites on the Internet.

I guarantee you that we did not receive 96,000 visits in December because our Web site is boring, irrelevant, and uninteresting. I guarantee you that soon we will receive over 100,000 visits. I guarantee you that we talk to people in places in this world that cannot be contacted in any other way.

Peter told Cornelius, "God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him, and does what is right, is welcome to Him" (Acts 10:34,35). We use the Internet to declare that truth.

"And just how expensive is this? All of this potential, all of this good, all of this worldwide access? It must really cost this congregation a bundle of money every month." Oh, it surely does. According to Myra, the total cost is $38.95 a month.

The world is changing fast. Do we have the vision to use change to show the world Jesus Christ and glorify our God?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 24 January 1999

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