Author: Ron Graham
This page reports my voluntary ministry activities July to September 2012 —for the information of those who take a special interest in my work.
Dear Brethren... This report covers the third quarter of 2012.
During July, August, September 2012, I presented 25 Sunday lessons in Bundaberg. These included 14 sermons on various subjects, and 11 Bible class studies in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of Acts. We were present at Bundaberg every Sunday of this quarter.
As mentioned in my last report, I am continuing to prepare verse by verse studies in the book of Acts. In the past two quarters I completed the first 13 chapters. This quarter, saw five more chapters completed. So we are now up to chapter 18, about two thirds of the way through Acts. These lessons are online on simplybible.com and I continued teaching the earlier lessons in Sunday Bible class all through this quarter. The original intention was to study only the first three chapters in class, but the class seems to enjoy the lessons and wanted to continue. Sunday class has now completed seven chapters.
New Lessons. In the quarter, I added 14 lessons to the simplybible.com website. Ten of these new lessons are the verse by verse studies in Acts, mentioned above. Four were new sermons. I also added five collections of slides (see later in this report). The whole simplybible.com website now includes 1174 Bible studies. The site has 1620 pages in total.
“Follow us on facebook.” The Facebook page facebook.com/simplybible turned out to be worthwhile. The number of "likes" at the end of September totalled around 160. As a result of the simplybible facebook page, I was invited to join three “Church of Christ” facebook study groups. The nature and content of the conversations in these groups was quite disappointing. The most vocal writers in these groups seem to be knocking the churches of Christ as Pharisaical and legalistic. The impression is of a concerted effort to undermine the principle of restoring New Testament Christianity. One of the principles that was attacked is the importance of scriptural examples in helping us to understand and correctly obey the commandments of our Lord and his apostles. I pointed out that the command to "be baptised" (Acts 2:38) cannot be understood without an example (Acts 8:38); one would not understand what to be baptised in if one did not associate the command with the example. This met with mild derision as did the idea of putting various scriptures about baptism together to get the whole truth. This, apparently, is a violation of a proper “contextual hermeneutic”. I thought you'd be interested in that.
Behind the Scenes I continued improvements to optimise the website’s performance. All page titles and descriptions that Google found inadequate have now been corrected. The big job for the quarter was improving the alphabetical indexes. I split the index into many more pages, and added a synopsis to each alphabetical entry. Whilst this was another TT (tedious task) it has made the alphabetical indexes very much more helpful to users. A lesson title alone doesn't say enough about the lesson content; a synopsis of the lesson clarifies what the lesson is about. All other lists and indexes on simplybible.com have, for a long time, had synopses, including those indexes generated automatically by SiFi. Now the alphabetic indexes offer the same facility.
Visitors to site. During the quarter the number of pageviews remained steady at slightly above 2000 per day on average, and not varying by more than 10% up or down on each day. Whilst I would have like to see the number rising, I actually feared a drop because of the effects of Google’s changes to the way it indexes and ranks websites. So “steady as she goes” was not a bad result. Several emails came in thanking us for the website and informing us of how it is helping some who are struggling to do the Lord’s work around the world.
A great teaching tool. The Bundaberg church purchased a new whiteboard fitted with a projector. The board connects to a computer and operates like a touch screen. This is useful for me in Bible class, where I can display the notes I am using direct from the website. It helps the class to follow the lesson. I also prepared “slides” to show during my sermons. These were produced using html markup, so that I could include them on simplybible.com where others could make use of them. An example is The Love of God. (http://www.simplybible.com/slides/LoveOfGod/LoveOfGod-Slide00.htm)
The elderly folk in the congregation have expressed a liking for the screen, because they don't have to fumble with their Bibles but can relax and read the scripture verses on the screen. This helps them to concentrate on the sermon and keep up with the pace of the lesson without distraction. The younger folk also like the screen because screens and computers are a familiar way of learning for them. The screen has other uses: it can project videos for example. It should be a very useful teaching tool.
Again I say a big thank you to the people who have assisted me in my work. Without you, I could not do it.
Love and best wishes in Jesus,