The Virtual Pew News #2
Friday June 9, 2006
(My 47th Birthday)
Welcome to The Virtual Pew News #2. As you can tell the newsletter is coming to you via new form today. Hopefully the list will be easier to manage on my end, and will allow you some control. The process took some time, had to transfer 1,052 email addresses to the new list, that took some time, especially when considering the programs I had before weren’t compatible. There will be a unsubscribe link at the end of this email for those that don’t want to receive it. Of course we also welcome you sending it to others who may be able to take advantage of, and use the newsletter.
What is The Virtual Pew?
The Virtual Pew is a on line community of faith. A online church if you will. Our hope is to provide ministry to those unable to access the local church, or those who have, for whatever reason, come to the place where they no longer attend a local church. It is our hope that we can spin a community of faith on the Web. The Virtual Pew is the brainchild of Mike Furches and David Bruce of Hollywood Jesus. Starting out as a adjunct to the ministry of Hollywood Jesus The Virtual Pew has grown into something beyond the walls of Hollywood Jesus.
Eventually we will have daily blogs and weekly messages, with the messages being in video format. Currently there is the web site http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and various ministries at the pew. Included among those are the ongoing work with Hollywood Jesus, Writing, Speaking, and ministry at where we started and tested the concept at MySpace.
At the Virtual Pew there are also message boards that has begin receiving input and interaction of those around the world. More about those boards later. As a part of the involvement with The Virtual Pew, Hollywood Jesus, and MySpace, ministry has begin to take place. Counseling via telephone, email, and face to face has taken place within every imaginable population group. As of late I am responding to 3-10 people daily with various needs. Thankfully, The Virtual Pew has grown to the point that I am starting to already have others come on board and provide help. Help from counseling individuals who have been abused, to the occult, Satanism, drug addiction, other addictions, Homosexuality, infidelity and the list goes on and on.
How are things Going?
Things are actually going quite well. Right now, The Virtual Pew has thousands of individuals who have become involved in various sectors. We have people from all over the world including, Australia, Japan, England, Ireland, and within the United States from Hawaii to New York, and from Alaska to Florida. There are actors, actresses, many you have seen and know, musicians and performers, then Olympic Gold Medal Winners and Olympic hopefuls, and then there is the regular folk like me and you, all valuable, and all making a difference. There is another group using The Virtual Pew though that I want to mention. Military men and women serving overseas. I have heard from Japan, to Iraq of United States Troops serving. To say the least, in the short time The Virtual Pew has been around, I am actually quite pleased. God is working, and this newsletter is a piece of the pie that will show you how the pew is being used.
We recognize some individuals may not be ready for a local church for whatever reason, it is our hope that we see people begin to fellowship via either small groups, or the local church. We have already made 4 referrals to churches in the Seattle and Denver areas. I have also had requests from other areas. As we get to know the local churches in various areas, we hope to refer individuals to those churches. We recognize the need for getting together as much as possible. We will encourage small groups in areas that have enough numbers to suffice small groups in those areas. So far, progress is fast and The Virtual Pew is growing and changing from day to day. We were told there would be a huge need for this ministry and we are seeing it. There have been hundreds of thousands of visitors to The Virtual Pew in one capacity or another, whether via Hollywood Jesus, The Virtual Pew Website, or MySpace, I am receiving no less than 20 communications on a daily basis, and that number continues to grow. Just today, I have already received 31 communications and it is just noon here in Kansas.
Presently, I am trying to post between 2-3 Blogs each week. Eventually, we will also have a weekly pod cast with music, and a brief video message. The video pod casts will have approximately 1-2 songs, and a teaching that last approximately 8 minutes. Those will be linked via The Virtual Pew, and Hollywood Jesus. I am still in the process of trying to figure everything out and am getting help to get things done. We will have weekly and regular contributions to various areas on The Virtual Pew Message Boards. There will be designated moderators and teachers and helpers with each of the areas on the boards. Again, more about that later. I will say, I welcome input, messages and teachings from various church groups around the world. Of course those will have to meet my approval prior to posting.
Each Newsletter I will include blog links, and a copy and paste from one of the recent blogs. Please realize, currently Hollywood Jesus is going through some major renovations and web design changes. Hopefully things will be up and going as usual on Hollywood Jesus in the very near future. Until then the blogs are available at MySpace.
You can access blogs at:
Blog Titles On Hollywood Jesus:
That’s What Friends are For
Da Vinci (The Blog of the Week with the most response.)
Howard Hughes & Hope
Blog Titles on MySpace, (note on some of these you will have to go to the archives section to find. If the Hollywood Jesus Links above are not working yet, you can find most of those blogs at MySpace with quite a bit of response from readers.):
Tuesday February 28 – Newbie
Tuesday March 7 – Great Day of Wrestling Reflections
Tuesday March 7 – A Zoo, Funeral, and Wrestling Practice
Friday March 24 – Wow What A Day
Tuesday March 28 – Taking Names
Tuesday April 4 – Back from Omaha
Thursday April 6 – Another Name for Church
Wednesday April 12 – What a Week
Friday April 14 – An Embarrassing Subject for Most Men
Monday April 17 – So You Wanna Get High?
Thursday April 20 – Pinto Beans & Cornbread
Tuesday April 25 – Movies, TV, Celebrities
Friday April 28 – So Would You Like To Make Some Money? Monday May 1 – United 93
Wednesday May 3 – A Message From an Atheist
Friday May 5 – That’s What Friends Are For
Thursday May 11 – The Preacher & The Beast Or Mike Furches & Rob Zombie
Monday May 15 – Roller Coaster Days
Friday May 19 – Integrity
Friday May 26 – By Our Love
Tuesday May 30 - A Thirsty God
Thursday June 1 - The Gospel, Country Music & Johnny Cash
Friday June 2 - Da Vinci (Blog of the week)
Tuesday June 6 - Howard Hughes & Hope
MySpace link provided above to enter into the dialog on each of the blogs.
Friday, June 02, 2006
The Christian Leader
The following is a pre-edit version of an article I did for the magazine, The Christian Leader slated for publication in July of 2006
You couldn’t turn your head in any direction for the third week in May or most of the year, without seeing or hearing about The Da Vinci Code. The movie has as a part of its plot that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and ended up having children. This is a belief held by many is actually a recent approach made popular by Dan Browns book The Da Vinci Code and the 1982 book, Holy Blood Holy Grail written by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln. Some theories, not contained in the book or movie, claim Christ faked his crucifixion and ended up moving to France with Mary. Many were convinced the movie was going to damage Christianity.
The Da Vinci Code wasn’t just a money maker for Sony and Columbia Pictures; it became big business for the Christian Industry. Many attacked the story portrayed in this fictional work. From videos to books, Christians took advantage of the mêlée, and with resources in hand, many decided to protest theaters across the world.
The truth is the movie just isn’t that good. While opening to the second largest worldwide numbers ever, $224 Million Dollars, the numbers took an incredible dive in week two. Most industry standards state a movie will have legs if it does half its numbers in week two. The Da Vinci Code went from its massive opening numbers to $42.4 Million Dollars in week two. Taking over the number one spot in week two was X-Men III The Last Stand, produced by devout Christian, Ralph Winter who insisted that X-Men III present Christian values and a Christian worldview. By the time this article goes to press it is likely The Da Vinci Code will be showing in discount houses.
Many expressed frustration of those involved. There were complaints about Actor Tom Hanks and Director Ron Howard. Forest Gump has become the devil, or I cant believe little Opie Taylor would make such a movie. Suddenly, we had our own expectations of Tom Hanks and Ron Howard.
Christians should know better than expect non Christians to act like Christians. Many have forgotten, we are the light and salt, not non believers or the movie industry. Christians should be making a difference within society, and within the movie industry we can see that outspoken Christians like Ralph Winter, of X-Men III is doing that. Even those making a difference in a positive way though, are the recipients of the attacks we tend to throw at Hollywood.
One might assume after seeing all of the press and protests that The Da Vinci Code is the most serious attack on the Church in her 2,000 year history. How soon we forget persecution from the first century, to the French Revolution and from the Reformation to present day in countries like Sudan. The Church has come under attack, yet the Church that Christ said he would build has persevered. One of the strengths of the church is the power of Christ. We serve a God who sees the Church as His bride. God will preserve his Church.
While Christians need to stand for truth regarding the foundations of our faith we should remember two concepts. First, God is the ultimate judge, what we say, and do, we say and do in love with a non condemning attitude. We would do well to remember Matthew 7:1-3 (1) Don't condemn others, and God won't condemn you. (2) God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them.
(3) You can see the speck in your friend's eye, but you don't notice the log in your own eye.
The second thing is that despite where a person is coming from, without Christ, they will be blind to the truth of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-5 (3) If there is anything hidden about our message, it is hidden only to someone who is lost.
(4) The god who rules this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers. They cannot see the light, which is the good news about our glorious Christ, who shows what God is like. (5) We are not preaching about ourselves. Our message is that Jesus Christ is Lord. He also sent us to be your servants.
Sometimes the overly aggressive nature of those of us in the Church tends to do more harm than good. The immediate reaction to The Da Vinci Code could have been one of those areas. The quick reaction and harsh criticism could have done the very thing we were trying to prevent. That is, create enough public commotion that it drove up the box office numbers. If the quickly declining numbers are an indication of anything, they are an indication that the public just didn’t think the movie was that good. Some may say an answer to prayer; I tend to think a sovereign God whose message continues to stand true.
The Message Boards:
Our message boards at The Virtual Pew have taken off. While we only have 24 registered users currently we have had many individuals come in and visit as guests. Currently we have 203 articles listed on the message boards.
The topics of discussion on the boards are set up to enable and encourage growth from a Discipleship perspective. Community Discussions center on: Prayer, Fellowship, Worship, Bible Study, Sharing Your Faith and General Discussion.
Discussions have included things like:
Please pray for Lynn Jude – he is a friend of my daughter Michelle’s, he was in a car accident today and is in critical condition – he is undergoing surgery right now in a West Virginia hospital and Michelle is driving his sister there. The Drs. say the spinal cord is severed in multiple locations and they are not telling the family anything hopeful concerning the outcome. The family is asking for fervent prayer. Please forward this on to any prayer groups you are involved with. Thank you all for your prayers in advance. Blessings, Pam
Hello to all the new members we are growing so fast I can barely keep up with trying to chat to U all-I want to have a closeness and talk and talk ongoing to get to know U -LA TE DA!!!!! We at the Pew care and care MUCH so do not worry-kick your shoes off and RELAX-chat with anyone here anytime-e-mail me etc. I want to talk about anything U may be facing and just need that listening ear-I am hear but I pray for all of U daily and that is a promise-I had a rough week with violent children who want to fight etc. and yell -God I love them and their parents-please pray for me and these kids, they see so much these days-so do older people-it makes me weep.....well ......hoolar guys Pastor Mike is so nice and his family......thought for the day....well, be happy no matter what comes your way if U are not-give us a hollar here-NEVER worry BYE FOR NOW and Hi again all you great people out there FOR REAL I MEAN IT, back to my world here 6 kids and all the neighbor kids, and a cat named BOO
Greetings from the Emerald Isle - also known as God's own country
Just wanted to say hi to my extended family of brothers and sisters in Christ. Even on this little cold wet island we need the warmth of the fellowship of believers. If you fancy looking up some of my thoughts on stuff check out my blog.
Big love to all.
Well we have an issue that has come up in our church which doesn’t surprise me at all as most of our "leaders" don't always appear to be on the same page, that aside. I got to thinking when someone comes to Christ is it better to encourage the "jump in - head first” approach, or is it better to reign them in and teach them the "dip the toe in first"- idea. The reason I ask is we seem to have a few individuals that came to Christ 6 , 7 and 9 months ago and all 3 are on fire and have showed no signs of slowing down , yet certain folks seem to want to slow them down and bring the energy levels for Christ back a few notches , so I ask is this because its the best way ? Or simply lazy "Christians” worried about looking bad?
The ministry involvement has been unbelievable on this end. I have had to set myself up some fairly strict hours, or I end up not being able to give my family time. Generally, I get up about 5:30 AM, spend time in devotions and time alone with God, then go to work on The Virtual Pew and other related ministry, go to the gym in the morning, work out for a couple of hours, come home and end up taking off around 5:00 PM. Obviously there are times I don’t get to stay with those hours. The other day for example I had an interview with a Documentary Film maker making a Documentary Movie about Christian Rock, then there are the other things that come up. Individuals contacting me via ministry related things regarding The Virtual Pew.
I am also involved in doing ministry within the inner city. It is that ministry that drives me and where the Lord gives me my sustaining force. It is a part of where I came from, and a part of who God has called me to be.
Currently my daughter and others are helping do a total redesign of my http://www.furches.org/ site. Danielle Hobeika has been instrumental in helping in the development of the web sites. The www.furches.org site and www.thevirtualpew.com will be completed soon.
I am about to the point to be sending out a press release regarding The Virtual Pew and ministry that I am involved in. Hopefully, by the end of June my press packet and promotional materials will be complete. I need to bring in the additional income to keep this ministry going.
Some of the interaction in ministry I have done has surprised me, some has not. I fully expected the ongoing ministry regarding the issues around, addictions, abuse, and so forth. An area that I did not expect is the ministry to the Homosexual community. Thankfully, for whatever reason, there have been individuals contacting me from these groups and hopefully they can see an attitude which was in Christ in my own life. I receive several contacts each day that require some level of counseling, encouragement or support, many of those are within the Homosexual community. I have prayed with individuals both in person, over the phone, and via the internet. God has opened up doors here beyond my wildest expectations. God is still God and those not understanding the value of this ministry would be welcome to spend a day in my shoes getting to experience the blessings of God. I can see the day where we have to have others helping in this area. God is good, and the need is great.
What Other’s Have Been Saying
The response to The Virtual Pew has been phenomenal. While there have been some critics, the overwhelming response has been favorable. Many have expressed a need for something like The Virtual Pew, and I realize it is going to have to control its growth because the potential is so massive.
Now as to actual comments
I have to give you props bro. This is very good way to preach the word of God and God will bless you for this.
Hey, this sounds great. I'm only 15, and I believe what your doing is a message sent from God. Whatever you do, don't lose faith and believe in God's word. God bless.
I think an online church is an idea whose time has come. i used to go to church - grew up going every Sunday and if a Sunday was missed, it was a guilt trip as to why we didn’t get there.
As I grew older and got married and such, things changed, and although my husband is also a Christian, we tried going to church but never seemed to stick to it. there are many reasons for that, but when I finally sat down and thought about it logically - why was it such a struggle to give God one hour of my time one day a week - it boiled down to one thing. The church was not meeting my needs. So I tried a new church...and stuck it out long enough to get to know people by name, tried to become involved in some extra activities and such, and again found that my needs were not being met at all.
I don’t know why this is happening. My parents seemed to find that listening to the sermon was enough. Was this because the old time preachers had better sermons? Or because they felt they were doing their duty to God for the week? For me, I find that I learn about the Bible in a sermon, but I don’t necessarily learn how it applies to my Christian walk with God. Our church did a survey - they handed out pieces of paper and asked one question. What is the role of the church? I thought long and hard about that. To me they have but one job. Equip the saints (us) to go out and preach the gospel. "
I’m 43 yrs old. I’ve been a Christian since age 7. I have only ever led (or helped lead) one person to Christ my entire life. I don’t have the knowledge or skill to do that. I’ve never been taught about my faith. I've sat in sermon after sermon where the minister enforces rules for believers, does alter calls for those who might not be saved yet (preaching to the choir I think) and tells us about Moses, and Job, and Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.... but I’ve never in my life sat through a sermon where the minister has taught us how to share the gospel with unbelievers. (And moving every three years as a kid, I’ve been to many churches. in fact my dad was a minister for the first 5 yrs of my life)
That is why I say I don’t get out of church what I need. I don’t get real fellowship. I get hymn singing, a chance to praise and worship (which I thrive on) but no real fellowship. My last church even used to have a time before prayer to ask the congregation for prayer requests and praise reports, but quit doing it when the services began to run over time. it bugs me. I think churches are not meeting places anymore, but a place to punch a time clock, do your bit for the week, get a quick blessing and off you go, good until next Sunday.
Just my own observations.... probably not all churches are like this - but sadly many are.
God bless you in what you are doing Mike and if its of God it will flourish.
Let me know when your 'virtual pew' is up and running.... I'll be there. I've been trying to muster up the strength to go back to church, have done it a couple of times....but can't get myself to stay. My last church went through a vicious split...I have no idea why it affected my life so much, but now when I think of going back to church and getting involved with "church" people again - I just can't right now. But I miss getting a message every week, I've often said I'd love a "drive through church" where I could hear great preaching, but not have to put up with the people...LOL, Plus being single at 36 doesn't really garner favor with church people, who often ask me what sin is in my life that keeps "the one" from coming....LOL! This would keep me away from this and other distractions that happen at church.... Anyway, keep up the good work, I think you will reach more than you realize.
These here fields are ripe unto harvest, Mike. Now is the appointed time. This is the day. And maybe, just maybe, God has brought you here for such a time as this...
Wow amazing idea, I had actually pondered the idea my self. But I’m no where near as educated in Gods word yet ! But I will be, God bless you Mike and I will pray for the success of the virtual pew.
I love the virtualpew idea. I can't wait for that to be up and running. Many prayers your way for what you are and will be doing for the future and all of us who need it!!
I, too, have suffered from depression since my teenage years. Its the combination of medication, family support and (most importantly) knowledge of God's incredible love for me that help me to keep going when I just want to give up.
I look forward to the day when you start pod casting. You are a great writer/storyteller. I have no doubt that you're an incredible preacher too.
Your blogs never fail to speak to me.
A lot going on over the next couple of months. I am going to be in the Tulsa Oklahoma area from June 17-23. I will be in Oklahoma City from 6/28 - 7/2. I am also seeking to find ministry opportunities in the Colorado Springs Denver areas from 7/6 – 7/16. I will be going to Fargo North Dakota and will be open for ministry in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota from 7/17 – 8/6. Pray that God will open up doors of ministry in each of these areas. I am open to speaking in both Christian and non Christian environments. To find out more about the speaking opportunities visit The Virtual Pew, my salary is $400 per week. Additional funds are for ministry operation, including travel, expenses, assistance to others, etc…
Income May 1 – June 8:
One Time Gift, anonymous - $10,000
Severance Pay - $4,000
Total Receipts: $15,352.58
May Expenditures – June 9, 2006
Web Design: $250
Computer, (lap-top & Video Transfer Machine): $1,016.97
Projection Unit: $756.14
Software, supplies: $400
Benevolence Assistance: $100
Computer Repair (desktop): $144.86
Notice that on these expenses I don’t include benefits such as taxes, travel, meals etc. I will file those at year end as non reimbursed expense losses.
Total Expenditures: $5067.97
Total Operating Revenues: $10,284.61
As you can tell, some larger expenses are one time purchases. Hopefully individuals see the value of The Virtual Pew and support it with tithes and offerings, or at the very least purchase items from The Virtual Pew Store. We receive approximately 8.7% of purchase price on items purchased through the store. We also welcome the support from churches and businesses. We are establishing a board of directors to oversee the operation of The Virtual Pew and my salary will be strictly adhered to until budget evaluation next year. In the immediate future there will be additional web site design fees of $250, plus travel, additional support is appreciated and needed.
That’s a Wrap
That’s about it for this issue. I promise that in the future, the issue won’t be as long as there won’t be the need for continued explanation of everything here. I do appreciate you though, and encourage you to keep in touch. You are always free to email me or contact me, and until I hear from you, I hope to see you at The Virtual Pew.