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Pastor’s Internet savvy reaches growing audience

CLEWISTON, Fla. (BP)–Pastor Ken Reaves’ discipleship training class on the Internet quickly grew beyond First Baptist Church of Clewiston, taking in the local community and beyond. His “Internet for Families” seminar materials have been studied by more than 50 churches across the Southern Baptist Convention.

Reaves began his personal journey into the Internet when the SBC offered its website on CompuServe. From that introduction, he began to explore what the Internet offered. In doing so, he discovered a world of exciting potential and insidious danger.

His first seminar came at the urging of church staff members who wanted to take advantage of Reaves’ Internet savvy. The class enrolled more than 100, half from outside the church family. The church discovered dozens of church prospects in the process.

As a follow-up to “Internet for Families,” Reaves wrote another seminar, “Family Guide to the Internet.”

Reaves also recently completed “Going Online @ Home,” a book released this September by Broadman & Holman, the trade publishing arm of the SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources.

His latest seminar, “The Wired Pastor,” was written for pastors and church staff to help them explore the possiblities of using the Internet in the church.

The two-hour seminar introduces ministers and staffs to the Internet; teaches them how to stay safe, find information fast and create e-mail newsletters; and offers ideas on using the Internet for “e-vangelism.”

“I am finding that about half of all the pastors and staff have a basic knowledge of the Internet, but some have interest in going further,” Reaves noted.

“For those who have been online for more than a year, I am finishing up an extension of the basic two-hour course to include doing in-depth research and evangelism on the Internet.”

Reaves uses the Internet extensively in his ministry at First Baptist Church. He recently was able to maintain contact with a deacon who was undergoing cancer treatment in Gainesville, talking by Internet almost daily on ICQ.com, an instant messaging program.

Though maintaining contact through the Internet is easy and inexpensive, Reaves cautioned that it does not take the place of face-to-face contact.

“You should never use e-mail to deal with personal issues or correct a misunderstanding with an individual. That can often make matters worse,” he said.

“Thank you notes, too, are not really as effective on e-mail. Even at its best, the Internet is an impersonal medium.”

Reaves may be contacted through his website, [email protected].

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  • Carolyn Nichols