About Being a Telephone Encourager (TE) . . .
Q: How can I qualify to be a TE?A: Any adult (age 18 or older) member of a Southern Baptist church can qualify. For more information about specific requirements, click here.
Q: How much time to I have to give as a TE?A: Each TE decides how much time he or she will give, and when to give it. Our lines are open all the time, and since you take calls from your home, you can volunteer at any time. You may choose to give just an hour or two a month, or as much as a few hours a day. Whatever God leads you to do is what we ask.
Q: What if I’m not available at my appointed time? Will calls go to my telephone anyway?A: Actually, you don’t have an “appointed time.” We do encourage you to set aside specific times when you will plan to be available to take calls. However, we do not track your set times. You make yourself available by “logging on” – that is, by calling a toll-free number and entering a PIN and Password that identifies you to our system. When you are ready to stop taking calls for that session, you call the same number and “log off.” Calls come to your telephone only while you are “logged on,” so you control when calls can be directed to you.
Q: Can callers see my home telephone number or discover who I am?A: We are very serious about protecting your privacy. All calls come through our centralized routing system and are forwarded out to you, so there’s no way a caller can identify your telephone number. We have a firm policy that TEs give only their first name to callers, never their last name, telephone number, or address, so you are completely anonymous.
Q: How many calls will I receive if I volunteer for, say, one hour?A: We really can’t give you a firm answer to that question. It depends on the call volume and the number of TEs available at the time. Sometimes you may receive one call right after another, and other times you may be available for an hour and not receive any calls. We believe your availability is the important thing, and God honors your faithfulness in being available. We have seen that many times a TE may receive just one call, but that call may be a “divine appointment,” when you are connected with a caller who needs a ministry that God has uniquely equipped you to meet.
Q: What materials will I have to purchase to serve as a TE?A: You do not have to buy anything. The training is offered without charge to you, and you will receive a free manual. We do offer two resource books which you may purchase, but you are not required to have them. You will need a Bible, which you probably already have, and you will need to make copies of the report form. If you choose to send your reports by mail, you will provide the envelopes and postage, but we provide for online submission of reports (and we prefer that method), so you don’t even have to copy forms and mail them. Some TEs like to take calls at their computer. If they have broadband internet connection, they fill out the online report form as they talk, then just submit it at the end of the conversation. If they have a dial-up internet connection they complete their report off-line using a Word document we can provide, save the document after the conversation, then send all of their reports by e-mail after their session.
Q: What if I get a harassing call, or someone who really wants to argue, or someone threatening suicide? I wouldn’t know what to do.A: Let us be honest. You may get these kinds of calls. They are a very small minority of our calls, but they do happen. So, a fairly large portion of your training will cover dealing with these and other kinds of difficult calls, and your manual will have information to help you. Also, you can always call or e-mail the ERC staff after any call to ask for more help in knowing how to handle similar calls in the future. Most important, you don’t minister alone – you minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is with you on the call, and we believe you will be amazed to see how He uses you in ways you never thought you could do.
Q: I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve never shared the gospel with anyone. I want to, but I’m uncomfortable starting a witnessing conversation, and I’m not sure I’d know how to present the plan of salvation.A: Your desire to share Christ is the most important quality here. We devote some time in training to helping you know how to do that, and we give you a free copy of the Personal Commitment Guide to assist you. As for starting a witnessing conversation, remember that you do not initiate this call. Rather, the caller is responding to an invitation to receive information about new life in Christ. So, you are talking to someone who has already expressed an interest in the gospel and is likely eager to have you explain it to him or her.
About Being a Covenant Church . . .
Q: How can my church qualify as a Covenant Church?A: Any Southern Baptist church can qualify as a Covenant Church. Click here for more information about the process.
Q: What will it cost us to be a Covenant Church?A: You pay us nothing – nothing to register, and nothing to receive referrals. Your only cost is the cost of whatever materials you choose to share with the people who are referred to you.
Q: How many referrals can we expect?A: We really can’t give a definite answer to that. It depends on the number of calls from your area, and also the number of Covenant Churches in your ZIP code. (When we have more than one Covenant Church in a ZIP code our system rotates referrals among them.)
Q: Can we do anything to increase the referrals we receive?A: Yes. By using our toll-free number in various settings in your area, you are likely to increase the number of calls from your area, and therefore the number of referrals you receive.
Q: What if we receive a referral for someone who could better receive ministry from another church in our area?A: You are free to forward the referral to that church and ask that they follow up. Just let us know so we can check with that church about a report. Or, you can return the referral to the ERC office and let us know you cannot follow up and have no church to which you can forward it. We’ll work from there to find someone else.
Q: Why do we need to report to you? Are you keeping tabs on us?A: We request a report within two weeks simply so we will know the referral hasn’t been lost. We would also like to have a report of what happened in your follow-up as a point of encouragement to us and to others, but how much you report other than that you have received the referral and will follow up is at your discretion.
About Using the ERC Number in Evangelistic Outreach . . .
Q: Who can use the ERC Number?A: Any Southern Baptist entity may use our response information. We do ask that you notify us ahead of time so we can plan to support your effort. We have a standard tagline, and we must approve any change from that – just so you don’t promise something we can’t provide.
We do sometimes authorize groups other than Southern Baptists to use our response information. This does require prior authorization, to protect both you and us from conflict of interest.
Q: What is your standard tagline?A: The standard tag for TV, radio, Web site, and print ads running our primary spiritual help number is: “To receive information about new life in Jesus Christ, call 1 888 JESUS-2000.” The standard tag for billboards running the spiritual help number is: “Call 1 888 JESUS-2000.” Any media announcement may add the line: “or visit our Web site at www.thegoodnews.org.” ANY variation from the standard wording must be approved by ERC staff.
Q: How much does it cost for us to use the ERC Number?A: There is no cost for calls or contacts to use the spiritual help number (1 888 JESUS-2000) or the website. You pay for any cost involved in placing the number. For example, if you want to have a billboard campaign using this number and/or Web address, you pay all costs associated with renting the billboards and creating the ad to place on them, and we pay for the resulting calls and for referring contacts to Covenant churches.
Q: What if we want to offer a gift as part of our campaign?A: We use a separate number for campaigns offering a gift. Prior approval is required for using this number, because we open that line only when there is a campaign using it. For this type of campaign, you pay for the costs of placing the number, and you also pay for the gifts. As with the spiritual help number, we pay for the calls and for referring contacts to Covenant churches.
Q: Why should we use the ERC number rather than our own number in our evangelistic outreach?A: There may be times when you will choose to use your own number and address for response, and other times when you will choose to use us. Use us when (1) you want to be able to provide a 24/7 response and you are not equipped to do that from your own resources; (2) you expect responses from a wide area, meaning that some respondents probably should be referred to other churches or would have to make a long-distance call to reach you. If you are planning a limited outreach, with all responses coming from your own area and to your church in a way that you are already equipped to handle, you may prefer to use your own contact information rather than ours.
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