We’ve made it to episode number 500! As we near the end of our second year of Ask Pastor John, and as 2014 closes, we want to stop and look back, because there’s a lot to be grateful for — much grace poured out on Desiring God this year. Pastor John, when you think back over the ministry of Desiring God, what happened in 2014 and what’s to come in 2015, what excites you most?
Well here is a front-burner thing because it is always the personal that excites me the most, not just the stats — although I love those too.
Feeding the Front Lines
I just got a letter the other day from a woman who told me that she was at One Day in Tennessee in the year 2000. So that is fifteen years ago. And she resolved not to die collecting shells. She went with a team then to China, to a people group that had not had a Christian witness, she said, since Hudson Taylor.
After a year with the team, she said the team was discouraged and depressed with the unresponsiveness of the people. And someone suggested that the team watch the sermons on Romans 9 from Desiring God — not Romans 8, but Romans 9. This is what surprised me in the letter. And she said, “We had never heard such a vision of God’s absolute sovereignty.” And then she said to my wonderful amazement, “It was exactly what they needed at the moment.” God strengthened their hands. Within the next year, a 74-year-old man was converted, and he became instrumental in making gospel recordings for the people group.
So one of the things that makes me soar — whether it is year-end or any other time — with thankfulness, is the number of missionaries whose hands are strengthened in their work by Desiring God. I love these warriors. And it is one of the greatest honors of my life to be any help I can be in their great cause. So that is the main and front-burner thing for me.
Growth and Spread
But it may be that some of our listeners really do like statistics. And it just might encourage them just about the scope of the reach of Desiring God. And so I will give a few here to give a glimpse and who we are, what is happening.
In recent months, there have been about three million visits to the website each month. And that’s about fifty percent more than the same time a year ago. We don’t know why, but this is really a remarkable season at Desiring God. And for me, one of the most amazing facts about those numbers are that forty percent, I was told by Josh, one of our directors, have never been to Desiring God before. And I asked him, How does that happen? I mean, how do forty percent of three million people a month find we even exist?
And one of the answers is, he said, that nine million people in this past year have visited through Google searches. They have found us through Google searches, which means that somebody went to Google, and they typed in something like “Christian marriage,” “same-sex marriage and Christianity,” “Ebola and Jesus,” “physician-assisted suicide and God,” or something like that, and, lo and behold, these guys are so smart that in the top two, three, four, five, or six responses on Google comes up a Desiring God article or sermon, and people click through. And this just blows me away because the mission statement of Desiring God is: we exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things through the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ, by highlighting the truth that God is most glorified in us and when we are most satisfied in him. And so when people find their way to us who have never heard of us before, I am simply amazed and thrilled.
This past year the content team told me that we produced about a thousand new resources, including with, you and me, Tony, about 260 new Ask Pastor John episodes, about 600 new articles. We’ve got these two apps, Ask Pastor John app and the Solid Joys app, and I think there has been about 100,000 downloads of APJ and about 300,000 downloads of the Solid Joys app, so that people are just regularly tuning in with the app in that way.
Besides working with you in this happy thing called Ask Pastor John, this year has seen the emergence, finally, after two years of dreaming, of Look at the Book as a study help. And so I am immersed totally in preparing these unusual kinds of Bible study helps with Look at the Book. And we started in October. We are producing two a week now and we plan to do that right on into the next year and see how God blesses that.
Real Content for Real People
What we are really about at Desiring God is serious biblical substance and content. We don’t want just fluff, which means, besides the significant articles that are produced, there are books. I think the content team published five eBooks through Desiring God, and then I think there were four new books published traditionally: A Godward Heart and the sixth volume of the Swan series of biographies, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy advent book, and the collection on C.S. Lewis, The Romantic Rationalist.
So I am excited to have two extended writing seasons that Desiring God wants me to take next year in order to continue that production of books. So, God willing, I will be able to at least make a good start, and I hope, finish a book on how we make the most of God’s word. I don’t have a title for that yet, but something about the heart engagement and the mind engagement with the Bible. And then probably another volume of the Swan series of biographies on Spurgeon and Hudson Taylor and George Müller, because they were all friends in London, and they make a very interpreting triumvirate.
And all of that output at Desiring God is for real people and comes from real people. There are two teams that make it happen, a content team — you are on that content team, Tony — and an amazing tech team, these guys behind the scenes who make everything possible. They are on a kind of two-week sprint interval to provide improvements and bug fixes all the time. We are so about making this content accessible: We don’t charge for it. We don’t make people register for it. You can copy and paste anything you want. You can download anything you want. You can share anything you want.
We are all about spreading, which means that it costs us about $3.8 million dollars a year for this team and all this technology, 84 percent of which comes from donors who love what we do. And we love those donors who love what we do and make it possible. It is just incredible to me how much is available in God-centered truth for life-changing, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting content that is out there.
So I just want to take the opportunity to say thank you to all those who have shared in this ministry and to say: Pray for us. And may your 2015 be your best year yet.