I have permission from those lovely people at the CEN to archive my previous month's column here. If you want the lastest one you'll have to wait until May to find it here, or subscribe to CEN.
A recent survey by Google indicated that people have been turning off their TVs and spending the time on the internet instead. Many CEN readers, ordering groceries on-line and buying books through Amazon will be unsurprised by that, but some might be wondering where to begin.
Here are some sites which may be of particular use for the ordained, or those engaged in pastoral ministry. The URLs are all located at the end of the column. Incidentally URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator – it simply means the address of the site.
Lets start at the top. OK one down. God has a web-site at Blog Almighty but it looks like a spoof. You will find the genuine Archbishop of Canterbury’s articles, press releases and, should you need them, photos.
For some Bible study help BibleGateway provides a free service for all those researching the Bible, including a searchable Bible on-line. If you can remember the words but not the reference let this site help you. You can cut-and-paste verses into your sermon or article. The Unbound Bible allows you to choose different versions of a text (e.g. NRSV and King James) and lay them side by side. Not just in English.
And if you want a pithy quote to help your talk. Try Quotez; 13,500 quotations searchable quickly.
Alpha has global reach now. Find resources, training event details or the nearest course for an enquirer who can’t get to yours.
In planning services and public worship a good list of available resources is so useful.
PWarchive provides lists of songs and guitar chords. WorshipSession also has a list and sells projection and display software.
Oremus is dedicated to being a comprehensive place of prayer on the Internet, including ready-to-print church services for many situations.
Major youth and children’s work support organisations such as CPAS have on-line book shops. You can also search for ventures, camps and houseparties.
John Allan is a bit of an internet guru for the Youthwork community and produces a must-see websites page called :web browser in Youthwork magazine each month. These articles are archived at the magazine’s site.
For children’s work or small group ice-breaker ideas I often go to NewGames and browse their non-competitive and co-operative games database.
There are many precautions you need to take to surf safely. If for any reason you don’t have anti-virus software or a firewall then there are various places to go. AVG anti-virus, Microsoft anti-spyware and Zone Alarm firewall have the advantage of being free, at least for a trial period.
You may well receive e-mails asking you to confirm your credit card details or password, or accusing you of spending money you haven’t spent. These are scams. Spoofstick is a bit of freeware (software you don’t have to pay for) which advises you when you are not at the site you think you are at. So if someone is pretending to be E-bay and asking you to send money it will tell you if you’re being, er spoofed.
If an e-mail arrives which tugs at your heart-strings or asks you to forward it to ten of your friends, check first at Symantec which lists much bogus stuff. Also annoying are hoaxes which purport to warn you of viruses. Check these out at Sophos.
This may become an occasional, or even regular, series of articles. Want to join in? I’ve made a special post on my blog Mustard Seed Shavings to support this piece. Go there and tell me about any sites you think CEN readers might enjoy. I’ll pass the good ones on. A blog is short for web-log and is an on-line journal. You can easily make one and have an inter-active site where your congregation can comment on sermons for instance, or share insights from the Bible or their prayer lives. My blog is supported free by Blogger. My son is travelling on the other side of the world at the moment but he updates a blog and I can see his photos.
For more ideas on blogging, and fine cartoons, Dave Walker’s Cartoon Blog has an excellent, and very funny, guide.
And if none of this helps you could always take time out to play Su-doku on-line. If you want to find other games try Surefish. Until the end of last year they had a monthly games review column (I wrote it myself for a bit) and visits make money for Christian Aid.