On Tues., Nov. 7, I briefly addressed the messengers and guests at North Carolina Baptists’ annual meeting in Greensboro. I want all of our readers to know what I shared and why it is very important to the Kingdom work God has called us to do together in North Carolina. The following is an edited version of that message. Please take a few minutes to read it.
These are challenging days in the rapidly changing world of media – especially in the print media. Your Biblical Recorder staff is working diligently to provide important news to North Carolina Baptists and others around the world who read the printed Biblical Recorder and visit our website.
We do that because “People Need to Know!”
I have some good news. Our website, BRnow.org, continues to experience increased traffic. Last year we saw almost 8.2 million unique visitors coming to us for news and information. That’s an average of more than 22,000 unique visitors every day, placing us among the top Baptist newspaper web sites worldwide.
Thus far, in 2017 we have seen an average of 25,800 daily unique visitors. By the end of this year our web visitors will top 9.5 million at the present rate. That’s 15 percent growth! Thank you for depending on us as your trusted news source.
But, I have some bad news to share with you, also. The circulation of the printed Biblical Recorder continues to decline. Although we are not losing money with the print, this decline is not good for North Carolina Baptists.
Perhaps you have heard that many Baptist state papers have either ceased publication completely or cut back to a monthly magazine.
Today, the Biblical Recorder is the only remaining regularly published Baptist state newspaper among the East coast states. Some inland states like Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama continue a regularly published Baptist newspaper, but they experience the same challenges we face.
For many reasons, I believe it would be a mistake for North Carolina Baptists to follow the path that our sister East coast state papers have taken. Space does not allow a complete list of reasons, so I will give only a few.
The largest segment of print readership is also the largest and fastest growing segment of the population of the United States – it is those above 55 years of age.
This is our senior adult membership. Their numbers are increasing rapidly. These are the men and women who make up our experienced leadership base.
They want to stay informed. We cannot and must not abandon this significant group of North Carolina Baptists. They are the giving base for our churches, our mission offerings and the Cooperative Program. We must involve them in our mission. We can help them use their best years for the glory of God.
Many in this age group do not use computers, so they do not visit the web sites of the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources or the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. They depend on regularly printed newspapers. State papers have been the face of the Cooperative Program to many, if not most, Southern Baptists over the years.
In our digital world, I realize that some do not appreciate the value of the printed newspaper. However, it is both pre-mature and unwise to pronounce the print media dead. Stories about the revitalization of print media in secular markets are too numerous to tell.
According to Pew Research, 51 percent of all age groups still prefer to read the print! That means 51 percent of North Carolina Baptists are potential readers of the Biblical Recorder – but many simply do not know that we exist.
The Biblical Recorder has been faithfully serving North Carolina Baptists for 185 years. We have provided news, inspiration and valuable information to readers of all ages.
We reported the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention 172 years ago, along with the launch of the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board.
The Recorder was there to report the beginnings of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina in 1885. We’ve covered the original founding of our Baptist schools and Southern Baptist seminaries including Southeastern in our state. We reported the founding of the Baptist Hospital, the N.C. Baptist Foundation, Baptists on Missions and all of the ministries in Baptist life.
The Recorder has been on the front lines as one of the longest published and leading newspapers in the Southern Baptist Convention, and our website is one of the most popular web sites among all Baptist newspapers.
Today, we mail the printed Biblical Recorder free to 5,458 churches, associations, retired pastors, missionaries and retired directors of missions. Only 705 readers pay for their subscription individually. The remaining subscriptions are through church group subscription plans.
In order to continue to serve you and your churches, we need more group subscription plans through the local church. Does your church have a group plan?
North Carolina has more than 4,300 Baptist churches, but only 671 of those churches have a group subscription plan. That’s only 16 percent of our churches. The bottom line is that only 1 percent of all North Carolina Baptists get a copy of the Biblical Recorder – even though 51 percent prefer the print.
We are your newspaper. We are here to serve you. Pastors, your church listens to you. Please lead them to provide at least your key leaders with an annual subscription to the Recorder. Some churches already do that. Some provide the Recorder for all members who request it.
Ten of your leaders could receive 26 editions of the Recorder at their home address for a full year for only $135. I believe you will see valuable returns on your investment.
I believe North Carolina is a unique state. The people in this state are not the kind of people who follow trends – they lead the way.
N.C. Baptists lead the nation in mission giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and placed second last year in gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
N.C. Baptists have one of the strongest Cooperative Program giving records of any state in the Southern Baptist Convention.
N.C. is the home of the only Southern Baptist seminary on the East coast.
The nation’s largest and strongest children’s homes ministry is in N.C. So is the nation’s largest and most active disaster relief ministry.
Southern Baptists’ only national retreat center is in our state – Ridgecrest Conference Center.
The North Carolina Baptist Hospital is a cutting-edge model for faith-based health nation-wide. Secular and religious hospitals look to their Faith Health program for the best examples of holistic care.
Our state is the home to many world-wide Christian ministries beginning with two of the largest – the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse. Many ministries are relocating to North Carolina every year.
When the men of Gideons International open a box of 100 Bibles to distribute in any part of the world, five of those Bibles came from a donor in N.C. Several large ministries outside N.C. reported to me that our state leads all other states in support for their organization.
The people of this state are leaders!
I want to encourage N.C. Baptists to be leaders also in forging the path for a stronger state paper.
Thank you for making our website strong. Let’s do the same for the newspaper so the people in our churches will be more effective disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ in our state and around the world.
Contact our circulation manager, Liz Tablazon, to begin or expand your church’s group subscription plan today: [email protected] or 919-459-5693.