Why do Baptists need a newspaper?
    March 11 2014 by Mike Creswell, Guest Column

    Why is a newspaper in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) budget? Why should churches want to help fund the Biblical Recorder?
     
    Most organizations have print and digital platforms to tell their message. But communications is especially important to Baptists, both for theological and practical reasons.
     

    Communications and church polity

    Baptists believe in the priesthood of believers. In other words, we believe every Christian is competent to deal directly with God on spiritual matters.
     
    Some denominations have a hierarchy of leaders speaking to members for God and handing down instructions to local congregations.
     
    But Baptists have autonomous churches that assign members to direct their associations and conventions, rather than the other way around. There is no such thing as “the Southern Baptist Church.” Rather, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a partnership of autonomous congregations voluntarily cooperating in missions and other matters on which they agree.
     
    When the BSC holds its annual meeting, messengers from the local churches vote on the annual budget and other important matters. Leaders, including convention officers and the board of directors, are elected by those local churches to carry out business for the convention between annual sessions, but major questions must be voted on during each annual meeting.
     
    For Baptists, information replaces a hierarchy of leaders! To make the right decisions, members need to be informed.
     
    But there’s much more to this than business meetings. In the Baptist view, being informed is an integral part of being a disciple of Christ.
     
    Baptists need to know where God is at work in the world, so they can join Him there. They need to know of needs, so they can give, go and pray to have those needs met. They need to know how their missionaries and the ministries they support financially are faring, so they can respond accordingly.
    Since every Baptist has a say in what happens in Baptist life, we need to be well informed. Baptists never completely agree on every issue, but a majority will usually choose correctly when they have solid information in hand.
     

    Communications, missions & discipleship

    Baptists who are disciples of Jesus Christ must understand how they can partner with Him in the process of redeeming a lost world.
     
    That’s why Bible teaching and current missions information go hand-in-hand. The New Testament was written as the core witness to God’s empowering of the church to partner with Him in global missions and is full of rich instructions on how to become better disciples and thereby, more productive partners.
     
    Current reports on missions and ministry let us know how we’re doing in that process and where we need to get involved.
     

    Communications: highly valued

    Consider how much Paul valued having informed members behind him as he did his missionary work.
    Paul likely wrote his letter to the Colossians while imprisoned in Rome. Colossians 4 tells how he sent two men all the way from Rome to the church in Colossae just to report on missions work.
     
    Tychicus, Paul wrote, “will tell you all the news about me.” Paul called this man “a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.”
     
    He said, “I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.”  Tychicus and Onesimus “will tell you everything that is happening here.” Think about how important this was in the first century.
     
    Today, getting from present-day Honaz, Turkey, (ancient Colossae) to Rome, Italy, would take about 31 hours of non-stop driving to cover 1,400+ miles, and that’s not counting getting across the Aegean Sea. Of course an air trip would be quicker, but the point is that it’s a significant distance by land even today.
    Paul was clearly setting a high importance on keeping church members informed!
     
    Today the Biblical Recorder’s staff – Allan, Michael, Dianna and others – have taken the place of Tychicus and Onesimus. These contemporary communicators use different tools, but their purpose remains the same as it was for those first-century messengers.
     

    Not much good news

    These days Americans drown in information, yet you will rarely see news about missions or God at work on the secular six o’clock news shows, online services or blogs. Those editors are generally blind to spiritual events.
     
    That’s why the Biblical Recorder is not just a nice option for North Carolina Baptists. It is an essential part of what they’re doing to impact the world.

    Of course, the Internet allows web-savvy Baptists to access to vast numbers of Christian news sources, prayer guides newsletters and blogs. The Recorder highlights the best information available.
    The prayer needs of missionaries, the progress on evangelizing an unreached people group, the needs in our county or state – this information and much more is just a few clicks away at BRnow.org.
     

    God in the details

    If you’re still just praying, “Lord, bless all the missionaries,” you can do better! By learning details about situations and circumstances in missions, your prayer life will be more personal and passionate.
     
    When I learn that Christians in many countries around the world risk their lives to own and read the Bible but nevertheless are sure God’s Word is worth it, maybe I won’t leave my Bible on the shelf so much.
    When I learn that half of our Southern Baptist missionaries overseas serve in places so dangerous they cannot even be named in public, I begin to understand why they are so persistent in asking for prayer support.
     
    When I learn about our North American missionaries sharing the gospel with gun-toting, drug-addicted gang members in Los Angeles, I begin to actually see the need to pray for them.
     
    When I learn that some of our North Carolina church planters are going into places I would be afraid to visit in our state’s growing urban centers, I want to give more to support them. When I get a picture of what missions today really is, I have a greater appreciation for what those first-century Christians endured to share the faith we take for granted.
     
    When being informed precedes our giving, going and praying, we will accomplish more.
     
    Having both a biblical and global context gives us a spiritual GPS as we seek to live out our faith in ways that honor the Lord.
     

    God’s stuff is good

    Being informed takes a little time and effort – maybe a few more clicks of the mouse – but there’s another payoff. Stories about lives being redeemed and refashioned by God are some of the greatest, most exciting stories in the world.
     
    A criminal commits a crime? That’s old stuff. It happens all the time. But when a criminal enters into a relationship with Jesus Christ, transforms his life and becomes a meaningful part of society – that’s real news.
     
    If you don’t believe God is active in the world today, maybe you haven’t heard what He did just this morning.
     
    If you have trouble believing God is everywhere, maybe you have not tracked reports on what He’s doing on every continent.
     
    Secular news outlets will tell you about China.
     
    They’ll tell you about trade and tourism and problems. But they’re not likely to tell you about the 10,000 Chinese who become Christians every month or that China is one of the greatest harvest fields for the Christian faith in history.
     
    They won’t tell you about the five house group church groups Southern Baptists relate to or how all five of these groups are already bigger than the entire SBC.
     
    TV “reality” shows are shallow and empty when compared to inspiring stories of people risking their lives or public ridicule to follow Jesus. “Reality” without a spiritual dimension is not reality!
     
    Get informed and you will pray with greater understanding, depth and intensity. You will go on mission assignments more often, with more commitment and a greater understanding of why.
     
    Be an informed Baptist and you will give more sacrificially and understand that financing missions is an integral part of partnering with God.
     
    So, Baptists, get busy! Subscribe to the Biblical Recorder and read all about it! Read the printed copy, the online digital copy and website BRnow.org.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Creswell is the Cooperative Program consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)
    3/11/2014 9:57:29 AM by Mike Creswell, Guest Column | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Biblical Recorder, communication




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