Collecting and organising Christian resources

i’ve got a lot of talks, articles, sermons, etc. that i’ve been collecting over the past few years.  i’m trying to put together a good resource library to share with others — all stuff that’s freely available on the Internet, but sometimes hard to find, and expensive to download here in South Africa — and starting to review and promote some of it here on my blog (see, for example, the recent post on Gordon Fee’s excellent series of talks on Reading and studying the Bible for life).  i’m hoping to dedicate some time in December/January to cataloguing it a bit better, but basically at this stage i’ve got the following major collections:

  • Several excellent Bible overview series (ranging from 3,000 words to 52 sermons) and book overviews [i’ll be blogging on some of these soon]
  • All the MA course lectures which Covenant Theological Seminary has made available at their Worldwide Classroom (free, safe registration required)
  • Almost all the excellent theology lectures from BiblicalTraining.org (Bill Mounce, Craig Blomberg, Daniel Wallace, John Piper… — free, safe registration required)
  • All available EMA conferences from Proclamation Trust (free, safe registration required), plus a good deal of other stuff from ProcTrust
  • All DesiringGod conference audio and some video
  • Mike Reeves’ church history lectures from UCCF
  • Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology lectures from his Christian Essentials class at Scottsdale Bible Church
  • Some of the BASICS conferences (hosted at TruthForLife)
  • Talks and interviews from 9Marks.org (Mark Dever et al)
  • Various Southern Baptist Theological Seminary conferences on postmodernism, exclusivism, sexuality, doctrine of Scripture, Biblical archaeology, etc.
  • Resources related to Calvin and Luther
  • Various apologetic materials from the American Scientific Affiliation, Veritas Forum, Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Greg Bahnsen, John Frame and Vern Poythress, Alvin Plantinga…
  • Some philosophy overviews from RC Sproul’s Renewing your mind series
  • Lots of talks and sermons by Tim Keller and Don Carson
  • Sermons by various other speakers/churches i like to follow: John Stott, Mark Meynell, Chris Wright, Dick Lucas, Sinclair Ferguson, Paul Washer, Edmund Clowney, Martin Lloyd-Jones, GK Beale, Michael Green
  • Some free audio Bibles (KJV and Greek NT).
  • Greek lectures from James Voelz of Concordia Seminary (on  iTunesU) and from Bill Mounce on Teknia.com
  • Lots of other assorted stuff — currently altogether >65GB of talks, etc.

All the above resources are, as best i know, freely available (sometimes with free registration or some limitations) at the websites to which i’ve linked.  Some have restrictions on distribution (primarily to prevent people from selling them).  i haven’t listened to everything listed, so i can’t vouch for it all, but what i’ve listed is generally faithful teaching.  Of course, some resources, in the area of apologetics particularly, will represent differing views, and call for humble discernment and a commitment to let the Scriptures have the final say.

With so much available, one can be tempted to neglect one’s own Bible reading, prayer, and local church attendance.  Don’t.  i’m posting these here only for convenience and comment, and because i want to start reviewing some of these resources here in a bit more detail and cataloguing them (by subject, speaker, series, passage, etc.).  And i’d very much like to hear from readers who may have other resources to recommend or contribute — the sole requirement is that such resources must be available freely (or with free registration) on the Internet, or else be unencumbered by copyright restrictions (e.g., in the case of media placed in the public domain).

i’m not thinking of hosting all of this (other sites such as Monergism already do that very well on a much larger scale), but only of making a collection of truly excellent resources more easily accessible by means of careful cataloguing and reviewing, and also making them easier and cheaper for nearby friends to obtain.  To this end, one of my first priorities is to develop a decent system of subject cataloguing — a taxonomy, if you like — which can be applied to different types of media (audio, video, articles, books, websites).  i don’t want to go overboard in this, but it needs to be simple enough (not too many categories) to use effectively while at the same time not overwhelming the user with too many items in any one category.  i’ll revisit this subject in the coming weeks.  After that i’ll look at putting together a database backend and web browser-based interface  to ease the process of cataloguing and finding the resources.  i’ve got some ideas of what i’d like to do following that, but it’s likely to take much more time than i have available.

For now, i’d really welcome any comments or ideas, or pointers to other freely available resources you’ve found to be especially noteworthy, especially if you can get copies to me (my bandwidth is limited and expensive).

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8 Responses to Collecting and organising Christian resources

  1. Johann Eicher says:

    fantasties man :D
    definitely necessary, definitely will be used, definitely by me.
    Will think more about it.

  2. Simon :) says:

    Well dude – I think this is great :) And I can offer free bandwidth if you need any ito lab internet. It’s not incredibly speedy, but it is free. So if you need stuff DL’d, then let me know. Also, I have a whole bunch of stuff myself, gathered from various places… don’t know if you want to sift through it? I’d definitely recommend those Dick Lucas Colossians talks. Not sure if I gave them to you?

    • marcus says:

      Thanks so much, Simon! i’ll take you up on that. i’ll be glad to sift through stuff when i get a chance. i don’t have those Dick Lucas talks (from Proclamation Trust, i’m guessing), so it would be great to get that and anything else from you.

  3. James says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for some time now.
    I particularly like the idea of getting resources listed online for people who are looking for particular things. Having chatted to you I know your rough idea for sorting your resources.

    At the moment my mind is on using some sort of CMS to serve up a site that can be updated by anyone with an account and then moderated by people in a similar way to the way that slashdot works (so as to prevent duplication and spam etc.).

    This probably would’t be too difficult with the modular designs of CMSs today (I’m thinking Drupal although there is probably a better alternative for this problem). One would just need to write a module to integrate your files and the rest of the content. Although then it might be wise to at least consider turning those text files into database entries for a web server…

    • marcus says:

      Thanks, James.

      i don’t want to get too technical here, so i’ll follow up directly with you, but thanks for the suggestions. i have thought along those lines as well (in the past i worked in database design and as a web application developer) but have some reasons for not following that route in the short term but certainly keeping it in mind. i had intended to get some more specifics down in black and white, but time has run away and now i need to focus on exams again until the middle of next week. After that i’ll get back to the use cases and putting a bit more flesh to what i outlined to you. i’ll make sure to keep you in the loop in that regard.

  4. Mary says:

    Thanks for the link, Marcus! This looks very promising. I too have limited download capacity, so I’d love to hear any solutions you may come up with for that. It would be great if one of the local bookstores could put together CDs of this stuff for a small fee – just for the service, not for the material. They could download once and make many copies.

    • marcus says:

      Thanks, Mary!

      It would indeed be wonderful to see such resources more widely used! Some of the content licences do not permit distribution such as you’ve described, but most do. i would love to see some form of self-service kiosk, perhaps, at bookshops and church resource centres, to see these resources spread.

      At the moment i’m sitting with >250GB of fantastic resources (>56k files). It’s easy to manage the larger, more structured collections (RTS, Covenant, Westminster, etc.), but there’s so much else besides which is of great value and underutilised. The biggest challenge, as i’m sure you can appreciate, lies in organising the resources so that one can easily find that for which one is looking (especially when one doesn’t know specifically for what one is looking!). i know what’s there, although i’m starting to lose track of it now, but this is not something i can easily package for a kiosk or suchlike. For it to be most useful metadata need to be extracted (where they exist!) and content tagged and indexed. That’s a mammoth operation. But i’m slowly putting together smaller collections of the best content, and those would be more suited to such distribution.

      We must talk further :)

  5. Mary says:

    Yes, tagging with metadata and organising things appropriately is a full-time job! Perhaps if it could get buy-in at theological colleges, that would be a good place to start. There must already be some sort of knowledge management function there. Students’ productivity could be greatly increased with audio resources.

    We must indeed talk further. :)

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