PreachingToday.com Expands Into China
PreachingToday.com is Christianity Today's first subscription-based website, launched in 1999, and used by thousands of subscribers to inspire their sermon development and raise the level of preaching all over the world. The PreachingToday.com team has spun off several books and products over the years, including the award-winning The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching.
Most recently, PreachingToday.com expanded into China and has seen encouraging results. Keith Stonehocker, chief strategy officer, answers some questions about this newest venture.
Who are we partnering with and how did it come to fruition?
We're working with the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC). Harold Smith and I met with the presidents of several of the major international Christian broadcasters at the NRB convention in 2009 to explore ways that Christianity Today could collaborate to make our content available to the global church.
FEBC's Chinese Ministries division approached us in 2010 with a proposal for a pilot study to test CT's written content in audio format via radio and the web. They were interested in sermons from PreachingToday.com, Bible studies from ChristianBibleStudies.com, and marriage and family content from some of our publications. The sermons are the first phase and were launched in February 2012.
Can you describe the PreachingToday.com venture into China?
FEBC selected culturally-relevant sermons from PreachingToday.com's large database and translated them into Mandarin. Then they used two narrators to record bilingual versions of the sermons, with alternating English and Chinese much like you would hear with a live preacher and interpreter. They chose the bilingual format since many Chinese use this bilingual format to learn English.
I don't read or understand any Chinese but I found it interesting to see which preachers they chose and how many had listened to each sermon. The website is open so anyone can click here to check out the site. The only words in English are the names of the preachers and a brief outline of the sermon, but if you click on any of the audio icons it launches an audio player. If you advance past the Chinese introduction you can listen to the alternating English and Chinese bilingual format.
What's currently available in China and how might it expand in the future?
The first seven sermons were posted on the website in February 2012. Another seven were posted last October, and the third group should be available shortly. Much of the work is done by volunteers so progress is slow, but based on the strong response to the first 14 sermons FEBC plans to continue building the library as quickly as resources will allow.
You recently shared some results of this partnership with the PreachingToday.com team. What's been the response in China?
The traffic has been amazing! The first seven sermons have only been up for one year, and the second seven for only four months. Since the launch the sermons have been accessed over 1.6 million times. The most popular sermon is by Mark Buchanan with over 120,000 listeners to date, and 10,000 more every month.
I was reminded of what one of my Chinese contacts said when I visited Beijing in 2009. When I expressed amazement that their indigenous instant message service had over 500 million users he smiled and said, "In China, numbers are not a problem!"
Does Christianity Today have other partnerships in China?
Yes, for the past two years we have been working with Overseas Campus Ministries (OCM) to make BuildingChurchLeaders.com available in Chinese (www.bcl-chinese.net). These training resources are designed for pastors to train their lay leaders in all areas of church ministry. The content is distributed electronically via the web, the same way our English training resources are distributed. Churches can choose the topics they're interested in, then print and copy the content for their church leaders,
We did a pilot study in 2010 and the website was launched in December 2011. There are now over 30 topics available, with 60 more in process. OCM also publishes Behold magazine in China and they are adding indigenous articles and examples to supplement each training topic.