New website connects searchers to churches
RALEIGH, N.C. (BP)--Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Centuries later, people from all walks of life are still searching for the truth, and for answers to some of life's most thorny questions like "Does God Love Gay People?" and "Is Porn Wrong?"
TrueLife.org answers such questions from a biblical worldview by utilizing more than 30 evangelical professors -- theological experts in their respective disciplines of study. The site also can connect the inquisitive Web searcher to local churches for a more personal Christian response to their questions regarding numerous cultural and moral issues.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel L. Akin, who appears in some of the site's videos, noted in a letter e-mailed to alumni, "TrueLife.org takes evangelism, discipleship and local church growth to innovative heights. The site capitalizes on the millions who, according to statistics, increasingly use the Internet as a resource for spiritual information and investigation. Each video aptly applies God's timeless principles and truths to every question....
"The answers to biblical and theological issues provide discipleship for church members," Akin said. "Further, the responses to social, moral and cultural matters can be used to challenge lost people and pique their spiritual interest. At that point, TrueLife.org can, through its church location system, lead Web surfers in your neighborhood to connect with a local church for further spiritual assistance."
Akin urged alumni "to subscribe to TrueLife.org so your church can shake out salt and beam forth light, digitally, for those who are blinded by sin and have yet to taste and see just how good God is."
Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., who also appears in some of TrueLife's videos, noted, "With all the advances of this digital age, personal contact is on the retreat. Millions of people willingly sequester themselves to the anonymity of a computer keyboard. That's a problem for those of us who are trying to reach the lost with the saving message of Jesus Christ. But that's also why I'm so encouraged about the site.
"In a day when our population increasingly withdraws to the Internet, it's good to know that TrueLife.org is there, waiting, ready to tell people about Jesus Christ -- and where they can find a church that will love and disciple them," Falwell said. "Churches around the country are getting onboard with TrueLife.org because they see the value of having a 'round-the-clock witnessing presence in their communities."
The site's launch is the result of seven years' work of Jesse Connors, an alumnus of both Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
Connors told Baptist Press that, at an early age, he prayed, "Lord, I don't want anything else in life than for You to tell me what You want me to do. Please help me reach people with Your message so they won't go to hell."
"It was years later that the Lord spoke definably through the ears of my soul, and I was certain of a mission to use videos to answer life's hard questions online," Connors said. "We didn't even have a website, but I was sure that's what God wanted me to do."
Marty Jacumin, pastor of Bayleaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., where Connors is a member, said, "When Jesse first told me of his ideas, it was easy to see the tremendous possibilities of yet another way to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"That's why I've led our church to support Jesse's efforts through prayer, advice and financial resources. Though countless evangelical ministries deserve the support of the Christian community, I'm thankful for TrueLife.org and what Jesse has done. He is willing to submit to the authority of spiritual leadership and is committed to the local church," said Jacumin, who serves on TrueLife's board of advisers.
Connors holds a master of divinity in Christian apologetics and biblical languages from Southeastern and a bachelor of science in media management and public relations from Liberty. He drew from the faculty of both institutions for the site's videos and from Oxford University in England.
"People are asking tough questions about life," Connors said. "Sixty-six percent of all Internet users are likely to search for religious information online," he said, citing the Pew Research Center. "Evangelistic methodology and opportunity on the Internet has dramatically advanced in the past decade, and our site is capitalizing on this trend to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Many Christians, meanwhile, "are hesitant to share their faith and invite people to church for fear they won't say the right thing or have all the answers. TrueLife.org offers such Christians another evangelistic option to show people the truth of the Gospel.
"The site is an evangelism tool," Connors continued, "as well as a discipleship tool and a church locator tool.
"TrueLife will open doors usually closed to evangelism in homes connected to the digital world. It's a timely and innovative method to answer life's hard questions and connect people with a vibrant church."
Offering more than biblical answers, the site points the spiritually sincere viewer to churches within a 40-mile radius of the viewer's zip code.
"While church enrollment on the site is a priority, not just any church can participate in our TrueLife site," Connors said. "Churches may be approved upon successful completion of a doctrinal survey and then be enrolled in TrueLife's church referral network. Our site most assuredly reflects Baptist doctrine and biblical theology, and such churches are the only ones we'll allow to be linked to our site."
Leon Tucker, pastor of Capital Community Church in Raleigh, said, "TrueLife.org works. One week after our family of faith signed up with the site we were contacted by someone who wanted to visit."
In addition to his evangelistic motivation, Connors launched the site in response to "the influx of theological liberalism that has deeply affected too many churches across America. We don't believe that people who go to these churches find discipleship and theological purity that the scripture espouses.
"For theology to have intrinsic value, it has to be right and true," Connors said. "Conservative theology is important, therefore, because it's biblical. Too many churches look at secular society and try to merge with its trendsetters. But TrueLife is built on the solid and timeless biblical foundation drawn from God's inspired and inerrant Word. As such, we demonstrate that faith in Christ is not only reasonable, but desirable."
Norm Miller is a writer based in Richmond, Va. For more information on the TrueLife website, go to www.truelife.org.