Virtual Faculty Offices: A Witness on the Web
This MMM was written by Byron Barlowe, one of CLM's Web developers and will be the last MMM of this Millennium!
Last week's Monday Ministry Minute introduced a Web resource for professors and the general public called Leadership U (http://www.leaderu.com). This week we focus on the Virtual Faculty Office, a platform on this mega-site uniquely created for professors like you to display both your expertise and your personal story of faith.
We have seen the impact a scholar can have on visitors because of the respect and knowledge you inherently possess. As an ambassador for Christ, you can use this to effectively point people to faith in Jesus Christ while helping to clear up misconceptions about the faith and its relationship to education, humanities, science and other areas.
A California graduate student in education wrote Leadership U:
"Fully one-fourth of the required courses in my graduate program in education focus specifically on multiculturalism. It is also integrated within the other courses. I'm continually challenged to develop a Christian worldview on the issue and filter the readings and class discussions through a Biblical lens. I have found your articles on postmodernism very helpful in this area, but I would like to grow in my ability to present an alternate views on multiculturalism. I'm curious if you know of any discussion groups which would allow me to access the ideas of other Christians studying education."
This is just the kind of help many students and other Internet visitors are looking for. You can provide such help, especially in your area of expertise, through a Virtual Faculty Office on Leadership U.
One quite recent example of low-effort practical assistance is the Virtual Office of Michael Davis, Ph.D., professor of Medical Physiology at Texas A & M University. Dr. Davis' testimony as a former Mormon and his well-researched articles on the cult have gained a lot of notoriety, creating regular feedback to Leadership U. Somehow, his materials were picked up in discussion forums, search engines and/or were forwarded among a significant amount of Internet visitors. This is the kind of multiplication you can see from your "office" at the very visible Web site, Leadership U.
Christian Leadership Ministries, who created and hosts Leadership U, designed Virtual Faculty Offices to be as easy as possible to create. Using a standard format, the sites all contain a brief introduction to the professor, a photo and links to your curriculum vita, your personal story (testimony), campus Web site, personal homepage (if applicable) and any articles you have written. And it's very easy to update as you add to your writings.
Another successful user of this concept is Doug Yeo. Although his site has a fancy, one-of-a-kind look, its purpose is the same. Designed with a well-targeted audience in mind--classical musicians--it offers practical help on subjects like rehearsals, auditions and musicianship. More importantly, Doug, who is a mature believer, offers his philosophy of life including his own personal testimony. His professionalism commands respect, thus enhancing his witness. What's more, Doug personally responds to each email message fostered by his site (this is critical for maximizing your impact) and he often leads respondents to Christ.
Just this fall, a fellow musician wrote Doug at his site:
I am the principal tubist in the xxxxxx Symphony and have truly enjoyed your website. I have been reading it quite a bit and have just read your article The Puzzle of Our Lives. I have been unhappy, unmotivated and discouraged with life. I am searching and feel that the route you mention [accepting Christ] is the way I need to go. I just have not been able to commit. I respect you and the way you live and work and consider you a shining example.
Thank you for your message. You were very honest with your situation and I'm pleased you came across my article in my Web site where I detail my journey of faith. Your story is a familiar one as it is much like my own in many ways. [Doug went on to encourage "Joe" in his quest for fulfillment, offering material that would clearly explain the gospel].
In response "Joe" wrote back:
Thank you so much for your timely reply. I gave Campus Crusade my information and anxiously await the materials they will be sending. They say they will recommend a Bible study and church. I'm interested in discovering it all. Thank you so much for your time and I will keep you posted as things happen.
Your articles and testimony may not get as much traffic as some Web pages, but God will honor your witness and, who knows, you may be surprised at the interests of spiritually seeking people in cyberspace. You may even influence those who aren't yet seeking spiritually to consider your message. All this by simply posting some documents on a plug-and-play Web site, then responding to the people who see it and are interested enough to write you.
The Apostle Peter encouraged his readers to "...always [be] ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15).
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