STILL linking and feeding
Much of the way we at CMI disseminate our basic message has of course changed over the years, in particular the growing role of the internet and digital media. Nonetheless, our basic rationale, shared by all offices worldwide, is much the same as outlined in my 1996 version of this article, then called simply Linking and feeding.1 It seems timely to revisit the matter in this updated version, to explain more about what our primary role as an ‘information ministry’ involves.
Fighting the continuing tide of secularism
First, the task of producing all the information we do—by web, DVD, books, journal, magazine and more—is huge and ongoing. Equally challenging is the job of continually ensuring it is accurate and up-to-date in the face of the many evolutionary challenges that Christians increasingly face.
Of course, it then requires concerted efforts to get the information ‘out there’ to people in the most efficient and effective way possible.
This means we need an overall plan and strategy so the ministry will not only stay alive, but keep actively growing. A ministry that does not grow will eventually shrink to irrelevance by natural attrition. But such growth must never be ‘for growth’s sake’. Nor should the ministry’s survival ever become its reason for being, in effect—a trap that is all too easy to fall into.
So we have deliberately chosen a modus operandi (‘linking and feeding’, explained more below) such that in order to grow, we have to also reach more and more people. And we can’t reach more people without growing. Merely ‘treading water’ in a spiritual sense is not keeping faith with our supporters, who give precisely because they want the message to spread.
“Feed my sheep” (John 21:17)
What the work of CMI is all about is really the Great Commission of Matthew 28, seeing His Kingdom grow by facilitating conversion and discipling converts. It does so through:
- Breaking down barriers to the Gospel in people’s minds by “demolishing arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5) that oppose its credibility.
- Encouraging believers to trust the truth and authority of the Bible.
- Motivating them to get involved in this raging spiritual and ideological battle so as to produce further fruit for the Kingdom, i.e. converts, as God enables.
- Arming them with tools by which they can be effective in the battle, i.e. resources that are accurate, communicate well and hold attention. In short, we ‘make the bullets for others to fire’ in their own spiritual warfare.
Before explaining more about this linking and feeding, note why we go to churches primarily. It is not because they are ‘soft targets’, but because using Christians to reach others is the most efficient way of reaching the greatest number of unbelievers. And we love to go to a church’s main (generally morning) service, because people will be there who would not be motivated to come out for a creation talk; most are there simply because it is their church. They may not be hostile to the message, but many think, ‘I know Jesus loves me and that God created; what does it matter how or when?’ So they would probably not cross the road to hear a creation presentation.
Thus, we have to come to them, so they can hear how powerfully relevant the truth of Genesis is to the whole ‘Gospel big picture’, and to the decline of Christianity in our culture, and much more. Not surprisingly, after an effective presentation, the ‘lights go on’ for many—for most, in fact. So by motivating and arming believers in this way, we have potentially reached their many unbelieving friends and relatives.
And Creation magazine is a crucial part of that strategy. Some time back, I was in a large church ready to do a creation talk in their evening service. The pastor, sitting next to me, slipped me a routine, pre-printed card of instructions for visiting speakers. While I fully understood their need for such guidelines, it unfortunately meant that we would not be able to properly promote our Creation magazine.
After the service, the church leaders, thrilled with the message, asked about my coming back again in future years. I gently explained to them that we would then really want to be allowed to promote the magazine; otherwise we would think it wiser to allocate precious ministry time to a situation which allowed the message to go out more freely.
They seemed to think my comments simply concerned lost sales revenue. One said, ‘Don’t worry, we will be very generous to your ministry.’ And they certainly were.
But I had to point out that even if we knew they would give twice as much next time, it would not overcome the problem. Our concern was to use scarce ministry time in the most powerfully effective way to reach into the community; the strategy of linking and feeding.
What do I mean? And what is so important about getting people subscribed (linked) to the magazine? Please reflect on what Andrew M. wrote to us:
“Changed my life”
“ … it is a brilliant magazine … my mouth was agape on reading this magazine for the first time in April last year, lent to me from an uncle. I was astounded at the ease with which the theory of evolution can be discredited …. Your magazine has led me to put my trust in Genesis 1–3 as a literal account for the first time. Indeed it has also chased away doubts in regard to other occurrences in the Old Testament. (I had already resolved doubts regarding the New.)”
Notice how someone else passed it on to him. He continued:
“I don’t know if I could concisely express in words what an important need this magazine is fulfilling. I am so happy to have come to believe that God created Adam in time just as I sit here writing. (I have always thought, ‘If Genesis 1–3 is not literal or historical, and later happenings in the O.T. are, then somewhere, a line must be drawn where history “kicks in”.’ Of course, such a thought troubled me and caused doubts, because such a line is a very unsatisfactory way of rendering the Bible believable. And the drawing of such a line does not gel with the way the first few chapters of Genesis are written. Where could one put it?) Your magazine has encouraged me with integrity and rigorous scholarship to see that all of Genesis is true (in particular 1–3).
“It is marvellous and a privilege to have such ready and sturdy evidence against evolutionary theory and the very destructive idea of the earth having been around for millions of years. (I had always thought (used to think) that carbon dating methods were accurate and fool-proof. Therefore when I had doubts about the Bible because of the ‘proven’ millions of years, I would hit a brick wall or a dead end. Thank you for enlightening me.)
“P.S. This magazine has changed MY life.”
So when we go out there to church after church, meeting after meeting, it is not just to please listeners. A vital part is that, having shown people the importance of the issue, we then encourage magazine subscriptions, so we are linking as many as possible to our mailing list.
Once that has happened, we see it as if a pipeline has been established into the community through that person. Then through that pipeline, the feeding part begins. Every quarter, as the magazine hits postboxes (and these days, inboxes, too), we are effectively feeding this life-changing, faith-strengthening, witnessing ammunition down those many pipelines. At the same time, that family will get our Prayer News, book specials offer sheets, Infobytes free email newsletter and so on; and this means that even more information is going down that link to be able to not only feed the recipient family, but to diffuse out into the community (the way Andrew M.’s uncle shared it with him).
The feeding goes both ways, of course—the outreach is fuelled and fed by the fact that a small percentage of those so reached become donating partners of the ministry.2 That in turn helps us go on linking and feeding in an expanding cycle. In the process, a tremendous amount of blessing occurs.
Surviving at university
For instance, Helen G. writes:
“Three years ago when my daughter was studying sixth form biology, I knew she would get a big dose of evolution, but I had no scientific information, only faith in God’s Word, to counter this.
“The Christian bookshop had virtually nothing on the subject—I ended up getting one boring technical book which sat on the shelf. Somehow I heard about you [generally, this is through someone who has been ‘linked and fed’—CW] and have found your books and magazine very helpful.
“My daughter is now doing a second year science degree, and is confident that the world is God’s creation, and can see the flaws in the thinking of her tutors who push evolution. Her friend, also doing second year science at university, was sure that evolution was correct. After reading Stones and Bones she has changed her thinking, and now sees it as a theory with flaws.”
You can see how it spreads. Isn’t it exciting to consider that this is happening around the world to literally tens of thousands of people, through linking and feeding!
Many think we should be out there battering away at the education system, or the politicians, or the media. However, this could easily divert resources (which includes time and energy) from this central thrust. Such top-down attempts do not exactly have a good track record of success to date, even when initiated by politicians in office. They have been tried several times in the US, for example. Consider for a moment—how did the great British revivals of the past happen, which caused momentous social changes? By person-to-person contact, the spreading Holy-Spirit–guided flame which ended up reaching into the parliament of the (then) most powerful nation on earth.
By CMI’s materials changing the hearts and minds of people within ‘God’s army’, the Church, these become part of an ongoing, spontaneous, pulsating outreach which is:
- Far more active than anything man could ever coordinate; and
- Able to penetrate even into places which would fiercely resist a frontal assault—e.g. public education.
State (government) schools
For example, the lady who wrote the above letter has a husband who teaches in the State school system. He is now using our materials in his school with great effect! An anonymous survey after he screened one of our films showed that:
“ …there were 5 ‘don’t knows’ and 20 or so ‘believed creation is the most likely explanation’ and no ‘evolutionists’. With another class they are doing a unit on myth and legend so [my husband] was able to show [a video from us which used] Noah’s Ark as an example of something that seems to be a myth until the facts are examined carefully. The teens were amazed at the size of the Ark and were asking a lot of questions … What a powerful tool this information is in the hands of an experienced teacher in the State school system.”
(Yes it is, if a believer. What would be the point if it were compulsorily in the hands of an anti-Christian teacher, forced to teach something they didn’t believe in? It would become twisted out of recognition, and would be used against the Bible and Christianity, not for it. Changing hearts and minds, which may one day change the laws, works better than the other way round.)
Notice from the above how those we have been linking and feeding then feed others. One young man, in his first year of university science, told a CMI speaker how he had become a Christian at high school. His ‘religious education’ teacher was a product of link and feed, and had given the class evidence for creation and against evolution, just at the time they were being taught evolution at the school. He said that this directly led to his conversion.3
Over 100 countries
Backed by your practical support and prayer, there have been literally many thousands of outreach events in recent years, affecting hundreds of thousands. Because of the linking and feeding approach, many of those large numbers were then enabled to reach out to others, both Christian and non-Christian. Let’s say that out of a church of 120, which probably represents around 60 families, 20 families decide to ‘link’ to the magazine. Our research indicates that at least four people get to read (and thus potentially be affected by) every copy of Creation magazine which we produce.
Just think: because we now print tens of thousands of each issue, we can be sure that some part of each issue is read by at least 100,000 people—probably closer to double that number! And that’s only the initial release of each issue; after an embargo period to keep faith with paid subscribers, many of those articles then go online where they are read by many thousands more again. So it’s easy to see why, without any organised lobbying by any creationist groups at all, the creation movement is regarded as a substantial threat by many in the halls of humanist influence. It certainly gets an inordinate amount of ‘flak’ for something which is supposed to be a ‘tiny fringe’ movement!
Recently CMI’s Dr Don Batten returned from ministry in Japan, invited by the same church in which he had preached 11 years previously. As a result of that first visit, the church had had a massive ‘turnaround’, with one senior church official even publicly repenting of his prior unbelief of Genesis. They had since been using creation as the major focus of their evangelism, and as a result the church had grown mightily, to the point it now had six pastors and had required new buildings.
When I was on travelling ministry in the US in 2013, a man approached me saying that 20 years previously, he and a handful of friends in a small house church had been so ‘switched on’ by the materials they obtained after a talk I gave, they determined to start using creation evangelism as their prime focus. He said, “Out of that has now come a church of 400 active believers, almost all converts from the world.”
Encouraging God’s family
This strategy also ends up strengthening the faith of thousands of Christians each year—consider how much more they will be emboldened to witness and to share the truth of the glorious Gospel.
Keith and Cynthia B. write that this ministry is: “doing a fantastic job of encouraging Christians (and others) in their beliefs to understand and learn the facts of creation (and the Bible) which a majority of Christians are confused about. We have both been Christians all our lives and known a lot of Bible stories and laws. Evolution being ‘ear-bashed’ [pushed incessantly] during school was sometimes confusing some of our beliefs … We look forward to reading more of your books, etc. and will aim to ‘spread the good news’.”
Isn’t it wonderful how God can use a few dozen people scattered around the world to affect thousands, who affect thousands more? All because you, our supporters, help keep the wheels turning on an effective, continually churning ‘machinery’ which keeps on linking and feeding as we grow.
We are deeply convinced that overall, ‘link and feed’ is one of the most effective ways for Christians to be involved in evangelism today. You may not be a good ‘witnesser’ (most of us aren’t), but what about the Christians you know, who think that creation is ‘not very important’? There is a ‘secondary mission field’ for you right there, and the person you get ‘switched on’ to this creation ministry, so that we can link and feed them, may become ‘on fire’ for evangelism as a result. Or they may know someone else who knows a non-Christian ready for God to use this information to ignite the spark in their heart.
In fact, the magazine often ‘does the witnessing for you’, as we have often been told. We often get messages of great encouragement; the most gratifying are probably when someone lets us know that for them, becoming a Christian was, from their perspective, because of the magazine. And there is probably not a week goes by in which at least one of our network of ministries in several countries doesn’t get such a message (sometimes just a ‘by the way’ tacked onto an order or donation). For example, a man in 2011 told us that he had become a believer because a friend had given him a copy. He then subscribed for five of his relatives, he said, and four of them subsequently came to the Lord.
What greater incentive could there be for us to carry on, linking and feeding, linking and feeding, in an ever-expanding cycle, town after town, church after church; keeping the wheels grinding, whatever the opposition.
If you are standing behind us, thanks for praying—thanks for helping—thanks for being a special part of all this. If not yet, please consider becoming a regular supporter, so we can do more and more, globally, while the Lord tarries.
To find out how easy it is to have a CMI speaker in your church, click here.
Re-featured on homepage: 12 July 2022
References and notes
- This is a significantly updated and expanded version of the author’s previous article ‘Linking and feeding’ at this URL. The first version was published in 1996 in CMI’s Newsletter Update (which in Australia goes to existing supporters of the ministry)—an updated version then appeared in the November 2014 edition of Update, which has been modestly further updated in June 2022. Return to text.
- The modest margin on the books and magazines deserves mention as part of the ministry being ‘fed’, but it seriously does not begin to pay for the cost of disseminating the ministry information overall. We are immensely dependent on donors for our day-by-day existence, by God’s grace and as He wills. Return to text.
- In some parts of the world, government policy has forbidden the mention of creation evidences even in religious education classes! We have heard of wise teachers who, without breaching the rules, let the children know that there is this ‘forbidden fruit’ that may not be mentioned in school hours. By making use of the natural curiosity this engenders, they often trigger some very important conversations outside of the classroom setting. Return to text.