Southern Baptist journalism plays a key role in the life of our local, state and national partnerships. Yet, like most traditional press outlets in our society today, our news agencies appear to be caught in a struggle for relevance.
Many people in our pulpits and pews are not aware of the value – sometimes even the existence – of Southern Baptist news outlets at the state or national levels. Others may be familiar, but do not believe Southern Baptist journalism has any effect on their lives or churches.
Here are seven reasons why I think it is important for pastors and lay people to stay informed:
1) It cultivates a spirit of partnership
The primary role of Southern Baptist journalism is to promote the cooperative work of our local churches. We help congregations work together to make disciples of all nations by publishing reliable information and inspiring stories about their partner churches and the entities they support through the Cooperative Program.
2) Missions stories inspire missions efforts
Most Southern Baptist journalists say their favorite stories to report are those that inspire others to make the gospel known. It is a joy to research, interview and write about congregations that deploy creative strategies for sharing the gospel with their neighbors. Our hope is that others will read those stories, and begin thinking about how they, too, might develop creative and unique ways to reach their communities for Christ.
3) Accountability is important
News agencies provide a level of transparency in Southern Baptist life as they report accurate information about our missions and ministries. Journalism is not the only light that shines on our efforts, however. Trustee boards, committees, entity reports and other organizational tools provide accountability as well. Yet, news reporting plays a key role in ensuring that vital information remains accessible to as many Southern Baptists as possible.
4) An abundance of news – at your fingertips
News outlets serve as a supermarket for information about Southern Baptist entities. The communications departments in our state and national entities do a wonderful job of providing information about their ministries. But it is unreasonable to think the average reader will pore over numerous websites and publications to stay informed about each organization. The reporting process enables our news teams to cover press releases, announcements and updates – in addition to enterprising and investigative stories – making them available through convenient print and digital formats.
5) Hear from leading voices
Our news platforms – both print and digital – make it possible for readers to encounter a wide variety of voices on any given topic related to the Christian life. From editorials to book reviews, news outlets can provide edifying content from trusted leaders that supplements the work of pastors and ministry leaders.
6) Gain insight
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest Protestant denomination in America. We have a significant presence in our society that affects the culture and politics of our nation. News reports about what is happening in the SBC can help us understand the world more broadly. Ministry leaders often try to gain such insights to help develop ministry strategies.
7) Informed Baptists are better Baptists
Sometimes we have the privilege of reporting uplifting and heartwarming news, other times, not so much. Despite our emotions about any given article or post, our job is to produce news reports that are accurate, thorough and timely. That enables Southern Baptists to feel informed and confident that – whether the news is positive or negative – they have true picture of the state of things. Telling the truth generates trust, and that makes for healthier partnerships in the long run.