This “About” page describes various aspects of ChurchAges.net:
How it evolved since 1997
The website started in June 1997 in South Africa. People think you’re joking when you mention that Google did not even exist back then. The main search engines were AltaVista and Yahoo.
There were not many websites available at the time, and information on the Internet was still relatively scarce. But there was huge potential.
Having a keen interest in spreading the Word of God, the possibility of reaching a world-wide audience was very attractive. Especially to the so-called “closed countries” where the Bible is forbidden. So, the site started early on to publish Bibles in various languages. Due to the difficulty of showing characters in different languages on a browser, the site was one of the first to implement the UTF-8 encoding for Arabic, Russian, and Vietnamese. UTF-8 is the global standard for web pages nowadays.
On AltaVista there were lots of negative comments and web pages about the Bible and some preachers. In response, we published Bibles and sermons, without adding any comments. The idea was that people could read these, and see for themselves whether these negative comments were true or not.
Over time the website migrated to different service providers, changed operating systems, got rewritten in a different programming language, and was redesigned a few times. One major redesign was to make the site mobile-friendly, as most people reading the Bibles on this site cannot afford computers.
The topics on the site also evolved over time as it grew and started to find its niche. Early on we had photos of missionary trips and outreach meetings. But as people wrote to us, we realized that there was an immense need to answer the difficult questions that people asked, explain Scriptures, and clarify topics that some struggled with in their lives.
In 2015 we decided that we should better use our God-given talents for teaching the Word of God for people across the world. The resulting Bible studies are of original content, coming from years of experience, people’s questions, comments, and requests, or just seeing deception creeping in and destroying people’s lives.
The main focus
Rather than just republishing Bibles and sermons, the focus of the site became to create original Bible studies that address deeper topics of the Bible.
There are many websites on the Internet that help people to get to grips with the basics, for example, how to get saved. What is scarce however, is going deeper into a wide variety of Bible topics. Just like an eagle can see the entire landscape as the overview, but can also zoom in to see a rabbit miles away, we try to focus on a wide range of topics, and zoom into details in each study that others might not see.
God, by His grace, has given us understanding in many aspects of His Word. And this is what we like to share with everyone. It is both our calling and our passion.
The site is for individuals who are searching for truth and who ask questions about difficult verses in the Bible, but do not get answers from their priest or pastor. In these times God is searching out individuals, as He says in Revelation 3:20, “… if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.”
The site is for people across the entire world. We translate the studies into as many languages as we can. We also encourage you to consider translating a study in your language.
Most people across the world cannot afford computers. Most visitors to the site use mobile phones. The readers of the site are not wealthy. We therefore have to do what we can to provide the Truth at no cost to them. The bandwidth they require to view the site is expensive enough already. We have to do what we can to make the site as lightweight as possible.
Please realize that your circumstances are likely to be different from many of the readers of this website. Many of them are living in countries where Christians are persecuted. Privacy and security of a site like this becomes critical when people’s lives are endangered because of their personal beliefs.
It is important to know that we do not see ourselves as infallible. No person is infallible. Even when some claim infallibility, you can normally easily find contradictions or errors in their statements.
All of us involved here had many things wrong over the years, and made plenty of mistakes. We got deceived by church leaders — especially by those who taught that a pastor is the highest authority. We even got caught out by cults and experienced what happens when we do not take heed to what the Bible warns us about.
By His amazing grace He pulled us out of the mess. We have learned hard lessons. Despite all these experiences, we surely do not have all things sorted out completely.
Like all Christians, we are sinners saved by grace. We are no better than anyone else and not more special than any of our brothers and sisters across the world.
Matthew 24 warns us that at the end time, even the very elect would be deceived if that were possible. In 1 Corinthians 10:12 the Bible says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Like everyone else, we are constantly at risk of getting deceived or falling. We are not in a special “exception category”.
As a result, we encourage people to write to us, especially with Scriptures. At the top of the page of Bible studies, we invite you to let us know whenever you see something in any of the studies that is unscriptural, spot any mistakes, or if you have additional facts that will help people to better understand a point.
We are open for correction on everything. You can help the site to improve — on Bible topics and facts, or even on the technical aspects of the site.
We also encourage people to ask questions. This helps us to focus on topics that people find important in their lives, and to study the Scriptures in more detail.
Three of the biggest traps where people fail are money, fame, and sex.
The best-known example of someone who fell into the money trap was Judas. In the future, the son of perdition (antichrist) will do the same.
To keep ourselves from the trap of money, we do not ask for money or donations. Tele-evangelists interrupt their own programs every few minutes to ask for “donations” for their wares. We choose not to do this. Some of our audience can hardly afford the bandwidth for their mobile phones. How dare we then ask them for money?
To avoid the trap of money, we do not sell anything, have no adverts, and have no commercial aspect whatsoever on this site. We do not sell data, or give data to “social media” companies. We even changed the domain from ChurchAges.com (where .com normally indicates commercial) to ChurchAges.net.
In the process we also avoid getting into trouble with tax authorities across the world, and save ourselves a lot of administrative headaches.
God will look after us when we do His work.
Where you can volunteer
We do not ask or want monetary donations. These lead to problems.
But it does not mean that you cannot help. One of the things we found very off-putting was when we volunteered to help, and were either ignored or snubbed by a superiority bias from those in charge.
Here are some ways that you can help:
- You can pray for us.
- We encourage everyone to copy and distribute the studies. You are welcome to republish them in newsletters or on other websites. You may send them to others.
- If a study means a lot to you, please share the link to that study with people.
- Many people do not understand English. If you can translate a Bible study into another language, please consider doing so. It could help hundreds of people. You do not have to send the translation to us. But if you send us the translation, we can publish it on the site.
- If you want to create another website, please do so. If it were not for the many copies of the Bible that the early Christians made, the intense persecutions by some of the Roman emperors could have extinguished it. The Church survived because Christians made so many copies of the Bible.
- If you can write code, please contact us to find out if there is something that you can help with. We have a list of features that we have planned for the site.
- You can proofread studies — either the English studies, or the translated studies.
- You can help with graphics for the studies.
These are by no means the only ways you can help, but are merely to show that there are more ways to help than just thinking about financial help. By looking at the next section, you may find other ways you can do something for God. Whether with us, or with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus says in Matthew 9:37-38 that, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Are you a willing to become a labourer with Him?
The way it runs
Describing the various tasks that happen with ChurchAges.net is definitely not to boast or show off, but rather to encourage you to do something for God in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The ChurchAges.net site is run by a group of people who are spread across the world. We function online, which worked out very well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bibles studies are written by a group of Bible teachers. When a question comes in, or a topic is identified, they spend time researching the topic. Sometimes this happens in a few days, but sometimes this takes weeks or months. To ensure that any verse is not taken out of context, they have to ensure that a pattern is found throughout the entire Bible, and that each verse fits this recurring pattern.
During the writing process, the necessary graphics are created. To ensure that the pages do not consume too much mobile data, the graphics are optimized for mobile phones.
Once the study is written, it is proofread, edited, and typeset. The Bible teachers check one another. The study is finally published on the site.
If anyone finds mistakes, the study is updated as quickly as possible. One of the advantages of publishing on a website instead of printed paper is that corrections can be made quickly. Some of these mistakes are spotted by readers like yourself.
There is also a group of translators. Some of them are doing this part-time, while others do this full-time. We currently translate Bible studies into six other languages.
The translators select a Bible study, and start translating it into their own language. Translating some of the concepts correctly can be quite difficult, as some languages do not have the words to describe it properly.
Where there is someone else available who can speak that language, this person proofreads the translation.
The translation is then sent to a typesetter that prepares it for publishing on the site. During the typesetting process the translations are also checked for completeness, for example, that there are no missing paragraphs.
The site is set up and maintained by a technical system administrator, whose tasks include regular backups, system patches, upgrades, performance tuning, monitoring, security, and the technical architecture.
Most of the website is using custom code. WordPress is used by many websites, but it cannot, for example, publish Bibles. Many hours are required to design and code the site.
The video testimonies are created by a film director and a crew. These testimonies are not all from people in the group, but can be anyone whose testimony we feel can help others who are in similar situations or in deep despair.
Outside of the activities on ChurchAges.net, some buy printed Bibles in various languages — mostly from the Bible Society — and distribute them for free.
About the people involved
One of the questions we occasionally get is, “Who are you?”
The assumption is probably that we can give them one of two names. Hopefully you can see from the previous section that it’s not that straightforward to answer.
This question is actually unclear and unknowledgeable. Do we provide just a few names, or a complete list of everyone? Providing a few names implies that there is an hierarchy of who is important and who is less important. That is not the case.
Here are some points to consider:
- A famous Dutch Christian that was anonymous for most of his life was “Brother Andrew”. He is best known by the book “God’s Smuggler”. He “smuggled” Bibles behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. He later worked among the Muslims. Due to the nature of this work he could not publish his real name. He later created the “Open Doors” organization that distributes Bibles across the world — mainly in countries that persecute Christians. Only recently, in his old age, do we find his real name on the Internet.
- Publishing names can be dangerous in some circumstances. People might be in a situation where publishing their names could lead to persecution. Their circumstances are most likely different from yours. There are many places across the world where Christianity is not welcome, and where Christians are brutally persecuted. It is wise not to publish their names on the Internet. So, do we then publish the names of some people and not of others? Is it fair to credit only some for the work?
- Sites like Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, and others don't publish the names of everyone involved. There are too many. Yet billions of people use these sites without asking who they are. We watch documentaries without asking who all created it. How many apps are you using on your phone? Yet apps don't publish all the names of the people involved. And no-one asks these apps, “Who are you?”
- In the section about “No donations” we mentioned three traps where people fail. The second of these is “fame”. Nowadays, Social Media encourages everyone to become “famous” by publishing a lot of content and great photos, and build a large following. People have the unfortunate tendency to “hero worship” other humans. There is a lot of encouragement in our modern world to fall into the “fame” trap. From our side, we try to avoid these traps.
As such, we view the question of “who we are” as the wrong question. You should rather ask what can you can learn from the site. You must still check for yourself if what we wrote is Scriptural, and clearly set out. We will present you with the facts and the Scriptures that we have. We invite discussion, and we are open for correction by Scripture. This offer is not something you get from creators of popular content, educational materials, and documentaries.
How do I know that what you wrote is correct?
There are more than 45,000 Christian denominations across the world. They sadly split themselves into different groups because they do not agree with one another. Which one of the 45,000 groups is correct? Perhaps not one of them.
The source of Christianity is the Bible. The Word of God must be the source of Truth for all Christians. We should be the “People of the Book”. If what we wrote is not according to the Bible, then we are wrong!
The way that you know what is correct is whether it is Scriptural or not. This you have to check for yourself. It is your responsibility. Else you will probably get deceived.
One of the traps that we can all fall into is to trust "well-known" preachers. Many such well-known preachers have fallen — by money, fame, and sex. In the days of Jesus, everyone knew the high priests. Yet they were the very ones that rejected Him, to be crucified on the cross. According to God’s Word, even your bishop or your pastor are wrong when they contradict Scripture. Jesus did not agree with the denominations of the day — read Matthew 23 for a vivid view of this.
What we wrote must fit in throughout the Bible. We may not take verses out of context.
Please feel free to write to us, and state your concerns on any Bible study. We are open to be corrected. But please also don’t be so close-minded that, if we do not agree with your view on a single topic, that you reject all the rest of the studies.
Why do you seem to disagree with some churches?
As we’ve mentioned in the previous question, there are unfortunately more than 45,000 Christian denominations across the world. They split themselves into different groups because they do not agree with one another.
As we cannot agree with all 45,00 different opinions, it is inevitable that we will disagree with some of them. This disagreement is not to be spiteful or argumentative.
The source of Christianity is the Bible. This one single Book is God’s provided Word to us. Any conversation on Christian topics must respect the Bible as the “absolute”.
We will therefore give multiple Bible verses for any Bible study we write, or e-mails that we answer.
I do not see any copyright on your studies?
Copyright is a relatively new concept to protect the income of people, or for their families for a few years after they pass away. There is therefore both commercial and time aspects linked to copyright.
God’s Word is eternal — outside of time. Christians through the ages did not have or use copyright. Paul encouraged the Colossians to read the letter to the Laodiceans, and that they shared their letter with the Laodiceans.
There is no copyright in the older Bible translations. We avoid Bible translations that have copyright to avoid any potential problems.
As we create studies on Bible topics, we choose not to place copyright on these studies. We encourage people to copy and distribute these Bible studies as discussed earlier on this page.
Where does the name “Church Ages” come from?
In the book of Revelation, chapters 1 to 3, John wrote letters to seven churches in Asia. The Scripture clearly shows that these seven churches are symbolized by the seven-branched candlestick, as shown in the logo. This logo was drawn from the only example that we have, on the Arch of Titus, of what the seven-branched candlestick really looked like.
The characteristics of these seven churches in Asia match the history of the New Testament gentile church over the last ±2,000 years. Hence there are seven church periods, also called seven “church ages”, which show the story of the New Testament church since its start in the book of Acts.
Have a look at the Bible Studies section for deeper insights on this topic.