Someone asked me today, “Houston, why do you spend the time on your web site? Why do you advertise churches, why do you spend your time sharing what you’ve learned. Isn’t it a waste of time?”
I’ve had a personal or church web site since I was pastoring in Fresno, California – back in the early days of the internet when Prodigy, owned by Sears, was the big kahuna of the day. In the Black Voices chat rooms, I was able to meet and communicate with various pastors across the nation. I wanted to honor the deceased with Homegoing of a Saint. I thought then that there needed to be a resource for African-American baptist preachers to find out about vacant churches, hence the Vacant Church List was started – way, way before the national conventions decided to do something similar.
Then after leaving a church in San Diego, I was able to expand my ministry via the Sermon Sharing Service, (following the advice of Dr. Jim Holley of Detroit, Michigan) and http://www.roberthouston.org was born afterwards. A few weeks ago, a new incarnation of this site was born and now I have these sites including the work that I’ve done in the past for the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America (which had the FIRST SITE of all the national conventions) and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., of which I presently serve as their webmaster.
First, African-American pastors need a resource. That will never change and they need a trusted friend to preachers, who view this in light of ministry versus to make a dollar. I haven’t then and I don’t now, charge for a basic listing, because my reward is to see ministers connect with churches. I’m so honored to get that call or email that says, “Pastor Houston, I got this church from your listing and they just called me.” It’s meaningful and yes, every now and then I’m blessed by a gift of appreciation – and for that I tell the Lord “thank you.”
Secondly, busy pastors need a resource. The Sermon Sharing Service, birthed after being challenged by Dr. Holley, was the first group out there to offer sermons to the general public. Why? Sometimes pastors and preachers hit dry spells. Sometimes, as one brother wrote, his wife was critically ill, they have children, and he works a full-time job and he doesn’t have the opportunity to sit down for hours at a time and research a sermon. The Lord has used it to expand my voice across the nation. One sermon in 50 plus locations a Sunday. To God be the glory.
Thirdly, I started Homegoing of a Saint because I was tired of going to Conventions to find out that friends had died months before. Also, when prominent Caucasian brothers died, they would up in the newspaper and internet, but very few African-American leaders were honored as such. I did this many years ago and it has helped us become more community than competitors. I never will forget how the family of the late Dr. E.V. Hill reached out to me when rumors of Dr. Hill’s demise were going all of the nation – they reached out and asked me to quell the rumors. I sent out an email and immediately the rumors stopped. That showed the power of connection. In the words of a pastor in Fort Worth, TX, “Houston, I pray every day that I don’t make that list…”
So, I hope that helps you understand the rationale.