JOHN MARK MINISTRIES Press Release December 1st, 2004
PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1st, 2004. (Updated March 2013)
::::: AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN WEBSITE SCORES OVER ONE MILLION HITS :::::
Visitors to the John Mark Ministries web site during November 2004 recorded over one million hits.
‘This may be a record for a non-denominational Christian website outside the U.S.,’ director Rev. Dr. Rowland Croucher said today.
Last month there were nearly 70,000 unique visitors making over 92,000 visits, viewing 208,000 pages, and scoring 1,204,762 hits. ‘And those visitors,’ added Rowland, ‘came from every country with internet facilities, including many “closed” to Western missionaries.’
‘The site has 14,000 (Now 25,000+) articles, and many links to strategic resources on the World Wide Web.’
‘The World Wide Web is the largest and most easily accessible library the world has ever seen. It has tremendous potential for evangelism and Christian education.’
John Mark Ministries began in 1991, to encourage pastors, ex-pastors, church leaders and their spouses. ‘Our research found that there were 10,000 ex-pastors in Australia alone, and there was no cross-denominational ministry anywhere at that time to help them. The number now is higher,’ Rowland said, ‘Probably approaching 12,000. These are people who believed they were called to parish or pastoral ministry, but left for another vocation, often in a context of conflict. I gets lots of emails from pastors who feel they were “bullied” by the church (and also from churches who feel the pastor bullied them!). Some of these stories have been added to the site.’
‘The sad aspect of all this,’ Rowland added, ‘is that we pursue “lost sheep” who wander from the church-fold, but what about “lost shepherds”?’
‘There is currently a serious “crisis of confidence” in most Western churches. Researcher George Barna tells us that from last year there are now more committed Christians in Western countries *not* attending churches regularly, but “worship” via TV, radio, and the Internet.’
‘The John Mark Ministries (JMM) website (http://jmm.aaa.net.au) and our seminars address issues of concern to these “exiled believers”. The most popular seminar I conduct is about “The Marks of a Healthy Church”. I also speak to many women’s and men’s meetings, as well as Leaders’ and Teachers’ Conferences and church services.’
The most-trafficked area for first-time visitors to the JMM site is the humour section, with its 3,000+ clean/funny jokes/stories. This is a shop-window for the site; from there many wander to the evangelistic and theological sections. And to the thousands of resources for preaching and leadership.
Some of these are controversial: the most-read article on the whole site is titled “Masturbation: A Christian Perspective”. Other popular topics include the ‘hot’ issues of homosexuality, women in leadership, and apologetics articles about Jesus’ deity and resurrection etc.
Rowland Croucher was recently given a grant from Well-Being Australia, to write material addressing common questions people ask about Christianity these days. Like ‘Is Dan Brown’s best-seller The Da Vinci Code saying anything the Church needs to hear?’ ‘Why are Bishop Spong and his ideas so popular?’ ‘Can We Still Trust the New Testament?’ ‘Why are people disenchanted with the Church – but not Jesus?’
Visitors are encouraged to make the JMM site their ‘Home Page’, and use it as a ‘portal’ to access the many corners of the World Wide Web. There are simple instructions on the site’s frontpage about how to do that.
Rowland today paid tribute to a small army of helpers who have made the site so successful. He particularly recorded his thanks to the PastorNET team in Canberra and OfficeLink+ for hosting the site, and to Bradley (and others before him) who have given their time and expertise to maintaining it. ‘I only do the writing and editing: these guys keep the website healthy. I could not have developed this ministry without their valuable help.’
‘Especially to my wife Jan (who is also a pastor) I owe a very deep debt of gratitude. Without her support and love and encouragement over nearly 45 years of married life together, I could not have done all this.’
For on-line interviews, preaching and seminar invitations, and for counseling appointments: contact Rowland Croucher via the contact button on every page of the website . (Rowland says he’s deliberately hard to reach by phone: otherwise this website would never have eventuated :-)!
An adjunct JMM Web-Ministry is the site for pastors’ spouses (particularly pastors’ wives) – Priscillas’ Friends. Here are resources for pastors’ wives to use when they meet to talk, pray, and study together.
Also John Mark Ministries posts regular material onto many Internet sites concerning the persecution of Christians around the world. Rowland Croucher is writing a major paper on the ‘forgotten war’ against Christians in the Southern Sudan, where in the last 20 years two million people have been killed, and millions more internally displaced.
When asked how he finds time for all this, Rowland responded: ‘I guess I live a fairly disciplined life. I’m now technically an old-age pensioner. My former parishioner (at Blackburn Baptist Church, now Crossway) Federal Treasurer Peter Costello pays Jan and me a small pension. (Update 2013: Peter of course is now the ex-treasurer).
Counselling is mostly a ‘one-off’ diagnostic session, from which appropriate referrals are suggested, if needed. Rowland also conducts in-depth retreats with individuals and couples, where over two days ‘we take a journey through their life and try to make sense of it all. Never has anyone experienced one of these retreats who has not said “This is the first time anyone has listened to me for six-to-seven hours”!’ Donations for retreats and counselling are tax-deductible. John Mark Ministries has built a guest flat for retreatants to stay in, and/or talk to Rowland.
Another important offering has been John Mark Ministries’ publications. Still Waters Deep Waters has become a best-seller. Like seven later titles in this series, it is a book of in-depth devotional articles from many authors, which bring together quotes from theologians and spiritual masters. It is designed for those who want a ‘better-than-lite’ input to their devotional life.
‘Another interesting feature of our ministry has been the F. W. Boreham Trading Post. Boreham is really the only collectable Australian religious author. He wrote about 53 books, and many booklets and articles, and people everywhere collect these works. We have had the privilege of supplying rare Boreham materials to people all over the world, including Billy and Ruth Graham and Ravi Zacharias. Sales from Boreham books have covered the ministry’s car-expenses. Donations of Boreham books, booklets and memorabilia are always most welcome.’
Information about all these opportunities/ministries are in the drop-down menus on the website’s frontpage.
For on-line interviews, preaching and seminar invitations, and for counseling appointments: contact Rowland Croucher on the contact button on each page of this website .
* Shalom! Rowland Croucher *
November 2004. Updated in some places March 2013.