by Adriane Dorr
While CDs and cassettes may seem out-of-date and old-fashioned next to MP3s and iTunes channels, one Lutheran organization hasn’t ruled them out just yet.
In 1972, Rev. Fred Naumann had an idea: use technology to make the pastor’s voice portable. Like the circuit riders of previous centuries, he imagined creating a unique Lutheran resource that could carry the message of the pastor across county divides, state lines and even hemispheres.
With the help of dedicated laymen, Naumann started Lutheran Tape Ministry (LTM), an organization that provides pastors, parishioners, missionaries, teachers and even “those who have a home church and a pastor but are not in close proximity when services are available” with recorded, detailed Scripture studies. Rev. Naumann believed these brief discussions could be vital in walking through the chapters of the Bible, passage by passage.
Nearly 40 years later, he is still sharing those textual studies with those in need. “There are places around the world where there aren’t a lot of Lutherans,” says Fred Naumann III, who now fills his father’s role as producer upon the latter’s retirement. “But we’re Lutheran, and we’ve been Lutheran for 39 years.”
Because of advances in technology, the organization now also goes by Talking Scriptures (www.talkingscriptures.com), and through it, Naumann distributes both CDs and tapes of these recordings at no cost to those who request them. And that’s no small feat for an organization headquartered out of Blue Springs, Neb., a town of less than 400.
“Churches, missionaries, men and women in the military, truck drivers . . . people who need a portable message about Christ gravitate toward the messages that we provide,” says Naumann. LTM provides resources both for “the mobile and the less mobile. We also see a lot of these resources go to people who are in the hospital or hospice.”
More than 700 half-hour studies are available upon request. Studies in the entire New Testament are offered as well as several well-known hymns and other compositions.
Discussions of current events from a Lutheran viewpoint are also available, ranging in topic from how to be a Christian in the contemporary culture to clinging to the cross of Christ in the midst of adversity.
And, to top it off, in the next year LTM hopes to “begin re-recording verse-by-verse Bible studies of the New Testament for release on CD and future Internet formats,” says Naumann.
“In the last 18 months, we’ve sent Bible study resources to 43 states and 22 different countries,” he says. Beyond that, over the past 39 years, nearly 15 million people have heard the Gospel by way of LTM, and more than 70 countries have been on the receiving end of these studies, from Australia to El Salvador, the Ivory Coast to the United Arab Emirates.
“We’ve sent Bible studies to pastors in India, to a lady who travels the Amazon River and translates the studies for the people there, to students in Ghana and Malawi who use the studies to learn English, to pilots in Canada and to teachers in Kenya who use the material for their opening devotions,” says Naumann.
The technology has changed, and the scope of those reached has broadened. But one thing remains the same: “Scripture alone. Grace alone. Faith alone,” says Naumann. “No matter what, you hear a Lutheran pastor interpreting what Scripture says.” CDs or cassettes, Latvia or Lebanon, LTM continues to share the Gospel with those in need.
For more information on Lutheran Tape Ministry, please see www.talkingscriptures.com or phone 1-800-937-2591.
About the Author: Adriane Dorr is the managing editor of The Lutheran Witness.