Thinking Out Loud

November 26, 2013

The Help Callers to Christian Phone Counseling Would Rarely Receive

100 Huntley Street Counseling Center

The 1970’s saw the birth of the daily live Christian television talk shows, starting with programs such as The 700 Club, and along with those shows came the banks of telephone counselors waiting to counsel, pray with and process donations for viewers.

In later years, I was actually on the receiving end of those calls for two different ministry organizations, and as is typical — hindsight is always 20/20 — I wish I had known then what I know now. In some cases, I simply didn’t see what Ravi Zacharias often looks for, ‘the question behind the question.’ Also, I was too young to be a ‘counselor’ in any sense of the word.

More specifically, I wish I had known that for every question viewers might ask, there were books by trusted authors that addressed major topics from a Christian perspective. While it will never happen, I wish that I was taking those calls today, and I could, in addition to being a listening ear and offering to pray with the individual, say, “You know you might really benefit from reading….”

Maybe someone should establish a national call-in line just for people looking for a recommendation to existing resources.

It’s not just a Christian television issue, there are pastors out there today who probably don’t have the least inkling of the wealth of printed (and audio and DVD) resources that address subjects they are trying to deal with. The average Christian bookseller is probably in tune with at least ten times the knowledge of available products. And that’s just off the top of their heads, without next appealing to various search engines, and then applying their wisdom as to what constitutes a trustworthy publication.

Instead, we’re left with the ‘Wild, Wild West’ that is the internet. People go online seeking advice, not necessarily knowing who is behind the websites they’re reading. Counseling from Christian organizations has gone online as well, but the telephone counselor has been replaced with a keyboard counselor who is probably suffering from the same dearth of knowledge as to Christian print and media titles, or even what’s available on other websites.

TV ministry counselors are trained to recognize certain key subject areas of need and are then given information sheets containing key scripture verses; they are encouraged to present this material and then offer to pray with the caller. A little Bible knowledge and a willingness to pray over the phone (or internet) is the primary qualification for service. Some are urged to press each caller for a donation. Sigh!

There was, however, one place of refuge for the seeker of practical Christian advice, or deeper understanding of the scriptures: The Christian bookstore. Take the Christian bookstores out of the equation, not to mention the relative losses of people who worked in, managed, or owned such stores, and the gap between products and people continues to grow.

Of course, online vendors carry the same products, and online resources provide today’s consumer with a host of means to verify the spiritual credibility of a particular website or product, if they choose to investigate. But securing the connection between need and applicable resource takes a different route, and again, there is often no filter or criteria for recommending a given resource or website; whereas a seasoned or veteran employee in Christian publishing learns to recognize the different doctrinal streams and what publishers and organizations are going to offer advice tailored to the need at hand.

It’s too bad there aren’t more people answering the phones and online inquiries who are well-versed in the current catalogue of Christian products, not only the publishing industry’s ‘front-list’ of current and popular titles, but also the ‘back-list’ of perennial resources with a proven track record.

Photo: early photo of phone bank at 100 Huntley Street, Canada’s daily Christian talk show; David Mainse blog

October 6, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Here are some highlights from my blog travels in the past week:

  • While you’re link hopping  here, you can stream audio from CCM Gold Radio – Christian music from the ’60s thru the ’80s; though it’s a bit like tightrope walking without a net, because they don’t tell you what you’re hearing, and there are many obscure songs.   Great for Christian music trivia, however; I’m just not sure how many songs actually support the claim to include the ’60s.   I have a 3,000-plus library of Christian music on vinyl, and only a small handful are pre 1970.
  • Then again, you’re going to have to switch media for this one:   Many of you know Pete Wilson from his blog and his new book, Plan B.   But how many of you have been to Cross Point to check out a Pete Wilson sermon?   I thoroughly enjoyed this experience on the weekend.  Go to the page for Pete’s new Empty Promises series, and click on week one, the introductory message.   I promise you 30 solid minutes of distraction-free preaching.
  • Tullian Tchividjian has been busy on Twitter compiling short statements expressing various aspects of the gospel.  Blogger Barry Simmons assembles a couple of lists at his blog The Journeyman’s Files both here and here.   Sample sentence: “When we transfer trust from ourselves to Christ, we experience the abundant freedoms that come from not having to measure up.”
  • Trevin Wax plays transcription stenographer to a recent address by Al Mohler as to how he came to his present position on women in pastoral ministry.   Check out some highlights.
  • What life goals are you working on?  Things you’re trying to cultivate in your life?   Ever feel lost or orphaned?   Kathy Escobar has three words for you.
  • Here’s another take on the new CEB (Common English Bible) translation, which the writer calls a “Good News Glut.”   We learn now that five publishers are involved, and many are motivated by providing an alternative for the NRSV crowd.
  • Just When You Thought You’d Heard Everything Department:  Don’t know if this conversion would actually ‘stick,’ but Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell says she became a Christian because of her love of Italian food, primarily meatballs.
  • This one’s been in my files for awhile… Author Max Lucado considers things spiritual and things sci-fi and everything in between in a consideration of what the next life might be like.
  • Bene Diction posted this link a few days back to an article by Regent College professor John Stackhouse on the appropriateness of criticizing other Christians in a public forum.   Should we shoot our own?
  • Related?   Here’s a comment from a reader at CT’s article on Rick Warren’s video appearance at the Desiring God conference, and John Piper’s negative attitude toward Warren in particular:  “All of us, including the most intellectual, will be taking a Theology 101 course in heaven…”
  • Author Wayne Jacobsen got an insider’s look at the making of the now-released movie adaptation of Karen Kingsbury’s book Like Dandelion Dust.
  • New music artist of the week is two-time ASCAP award winner John DeGrazio.  Check out his 2010 album Stronghold at his webpage.
  • Michael Belote at Reboot Christianity has a great word picture of a typical gathering in the first century church, but to get there, link here first for a quick eight-question quiz.
  • No actual link on this one, but I’m currently reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis … out loud! Working away one chapter a night, and with my youngest (who’s now 16) listening, I figure many of the chapters started out as radio broadcasts anyway, so why not cover the book in its original form.   It also slows me down to catch all the nuances of Lewis’ masterful apologetics.
  • At least one Target store would rather slash women’s clothing to pieces than donate it to an orphanage in southeast Asia.   Why?   They’re afraid someone else might get the product and try to return it for refund.
  • It remains one of my all time favorite cartoons; so I’m thankful to a reader who sent a much better rendering of it than the one I posted… I think you already know the cartoonist’s name, right?

  • And here’s an edgy one appearing September 14th from Tom Pappalardo at The Optimist written in response to the migration of Roman Catholics out of New England, which leaves the northeast with a reputation once exclusively belonging to the northwest:

September 30, 2009

What Really Matters to You Right Now?

Filed under: blogging, theology — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:20 pm

question-markSo I’m blog-hopping looking for something creative to post today and suddenly realizing how easy it is to be caught up in someone else’s issues.   There are discussions and debates going on about a wide range of topics that, if I am reading these blogs correctly, are so critical that the fate of civilization as we know it is hanging in the balance.

Sometimes a topic intersects an area of personal interest.   Other times, I think of something clever — okay, at least I think it’s clever — to add as a short comment.   But the next day that blog will be off on a different subject which really isn’t something I see as critical to my own personal walk with Jesus.

Many Christian blogs are caught up in discussions that make your head spin.   I love surveying the issues and seeing what matters to some people.   (A blog like Internet Monk — see the blogroll — will do that for you and give you a crash course in theological hot topics.)   But often I feel like this is someone else’s discussion. Maybe I just haven’t reached a level of spiritual maturity to burden myself with certain topics.   Or maybe — and this is a BIG maybe — they haven’t written their argument in such a way as to evoke from me a response out of the depth of my understanding and connection to that particular concern.

So…what really matters to you right now?   What topic would you like to find on a Christian blog that would hit you right where you’re living at this moment?

Break up into groups of 3-4 and discuss; OR leave a comment!   (Or both!)

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