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A former electronics technician from Germany, now a Methodist minister in the United States, has established a Desperate Preacher's Web site that receives over half-a-million hits a month.

The minister, Frank Schaefer, told ENI: "Back in 1996, I was looking for something on the Internet that I could use for my preaching - for some way to exchange thoughts and experiences with fellow desperate preachers. There was nothing there, so I decided to start the ministry I was looking for."

The "Desperate Preacher's Site" (DPS) now has a homiletics editor, a chaplain, and a missionary on duty, as well as a technician to keep things running smoothly. Volunteers also assist Schaefer in answering the many requests for help from pastors, Sunday school teachers, lay ministers and others.

The Web site is continually expanding. "I have no idea how many new pages, new discussion forums are created every day," Schaefer said. However, he reported that in September there had been 556,240 "hits"—individual files requested from the Web site, representing a total of almost three million kilobytes of information. There were more than 3000 contributors to DPS and more than 51 000 "user sessions"—the number of individual users who visited the site.

Increasingly, busy pastors are turning to the World Wide Web for swift access to resources for ministry, and preaching in particular. However, Schaefer does not believe that the Internet will replace books and theological libraries. "I enjoy reading books," he told ENI. "I would not want to read an entire book on the screen. The Internet offers interactivity, which you can't have in books or in television. DPS is more of a grass-roots oriented media."

Explaining how he set up the Web site, he said: "All you ...

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