Justin Taylor – not just Internet, but free Internet
Responding to Tim Challies’ article on the role the Internet in the rise of the New Calvinism Justin Taylor offers a further point about the use of the Internet.
1. Not Just Internet, but Free Internet
One commenter on my original post made this observation regarding Piper and Desiring God:
It’s not just that Desiring God and John Piper were trumpeting the Biblical doctrines associated with the rise of the new Calvinism – it’s also the fact that they were aggressively disseminating them for free. To access such a wealth of resources and to not have to even register as a subscriber spoke volumes of the generosity and grace of the God they were proclaiming.
I think this is right. From the beginning (in the mid-90s) Desiring God had a “whatever you can afford” policy. There was also a decision to get everything possible—from sermons to articles to books to videos to audio—online for free. To see some of the theological and ministry rationale behind this, see Jon Bloom and John Piper’s booklet, “Money, Markets, and Ministry: Giving and Selling in the Mission of Desiring God.”
The second phase of this was an article by Matt Perman urging other ministries to “Make It Free.” Key to Perman’s argument was that it’s not enough to be free. Resources must also be easily accessible without registration or subscription. The difficulty of this is that it’s hard to pay one’s overhead and to pay the extensive bills to make this sort of thing happen at a significant level. (On this, see Nathan Bingham’s important reminder.) It means ministries must shift from a revenue model to a donor model. But Perman’s piece became a catalyst for other ministries following suit.
I think Taylor is right on the money here. It is a terrible turn-off when you go online to listen to a pastor’s preaching of the gospel and find that you have to pay for it. We need to make the treasures of God’s grace as free and accessible as we can.