August 2013

The future of the Biblical Recorder

August 27 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

To be effective in Kingdom work it is extremely important to stay informed. So much is changing around us daily – even hourly – that profoundly affects our lifestyles. Missing one piece of information can limit our effectiveness in ministry.
 
It is very important for Baptists to stay informed. Do the people in your church know what is going on? Is their worldview limited to the events within your church fellowship? As important as the local church is, God’s Kingdom work is too vast to be contained by the four walls of any single church.
 
When you pick up a copy of the Biblical Recorder or read the digital edition online, you are connecting with international missions, North American missions and North Carolina missions. You are reading about the way God is equipping leaders in places like Caswell, Caraway, and in educational institutions like Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. You are learning about God’s work through N.C. Baptist Men, the Baptist Children’s Homes of N.C. and so many other ministries.
 
The Recorder keeps you and your fellow church members informed on church revitalization, church planting, human trafficking, church policies, cultural changes and political issues. We tell you about the work in churches of every size across our state. We print unique features on prayer, evangelism, worship, and women’s ministry. Roman Gabriel III shares a regular sports Q&A to give us a window into ministry in the world of sports.
 
In short, we’re here to inform you so everyone in the body of Christ will be stronger believers, servants, givers, missionaries, ministers and teachers. Whatever biblical assignment God has given you, we want to be part of God’s construction project in your life by encouraging you and feeding you.
 
That is what we do at the Recorder. People who read the Recorder tell me they are better prepared to face the issues of the day, and they understand the work of Baptists so much better.
 
The more people are informed, the stronger our churches and our convention will be.
 
As I speak across the state, I am surprised at how few church members know the Recorder exists. They are encouraged when they learn that a Christian news agency provides news and information from a biblical worldview to strengthen their personal service to the Lord.
 
The Biblical Recorder is now 180 years old. While most of those years focused entirely on the printed page, we realize that we are not in the printing business. We are in the communication business.
Cultural and economic changes have forced a decline in all forms of print media. While many still enjoy holding a paper in their hand, most people now get their news from electronic sources.
 
Accepting the challenge of technology, we have taken great strides in that field. In September 1997 the Recorder was one of the first state papers to launch a website. We took that site to a new level in October 2011 with a change in branding, appearance and technology.
 
Last month we took another giant step becoming the first Baptist paper to apply “responsive design” technology to our site. This adjusts the way our site looks on different devices, based on the size of your tablet, phone or desktop. 
 
The result is that your BR website led the pack among all Baptist newspaper websites with the highest rankings for the first 7 months of this year.
 
In May 2012, we launched a weekly news email, BRweekly. It is growing and gets positive reviews. We need to broaden the readership of this free, weekly e-newsletter.
 
In May of this year our first BR app for smart phones went live. Many have downloaded this free app and are using it regularly to access BRnow.org.
 
In July we launched a digital edition online. Judging by the early response, we believe this advancement will become an important tool for our readers.
 
The Recorder has been using Facebook and Twitter for several years. We recently refined and accelerated our use of these social media tools.
 
We can do a better job of serving you if you will do a few things for us. In other words, we need your help. Here are some ways you can strengthen the Recorder and help your church family become better informed and stronger in kingdom service.
1. Encourage people to sign up for the free BRweekly.
2. Put a link to BRnow.org on your church website.
3. Encourage others to subscribe to the print or digital edition.
4. Encourage your church to begin a church group plan (copies mailed to individuals) or a bulk plan (a bulk quantity mailed to the church for distribution).
5. Publish our website in your church bulletin, newsletter or other printed pieces.
6. If your church uses video screens, display our information on a slide.
Without your help media organizations like the Biblical Recorder cannot survive. As we partner together, we’ll be here for you and for the glory of God. Thank you for the joy of serving in ministry partnership. For additional resources and details on how you can inform your church about the Biblical Recorder visit BRnow.org/resources/promote-BR.
 
Also, I pray that in the month of September you will participate in the strong partnership of the North Carolina Missions Offering. Visit ncmissionsoffering.org to learn how this offering is being used to reach N.C. with the gospel.
8/27/2013 3:52:19 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



N.C.’s largest Baptist churches

August 12 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

In this year’s April 13 edition of the Biblical Recorder we published a list of the largest Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches in North Carolina. That list was extracted from a larger list of all SBC churches that reported 1,000 or more in Sunday morning attendance. It was published by Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and was drawn from 2011 data submitted by churches.

Rainer recently produced another list using 2012 data. The 595 churches on his list make up 1.3 percent of all SBC churches. Second Baptist, Houston, led the national list with a reported 25,892 in Sunday morning attendance. Texas dominated the list with 136 large churches followed by Florida (64), Georgia (59), Tennessee (48) and North Carolina (34).
 
We are publishing a list of the North Carolina churches that made the cut. It should be noted that all numbers are self-reported by the churches and drawn from the 2012 Annual Church Profile (ACP). If no ACP is on record, the church cannot be included in this list.
 
The 2011 data identified 36 churches in N.C. with attendance of 1,000 or more. The 2012 data listed 34 churches. Two churches are new to the 2012 list, Nations Ford Community Church, Charlotte, and Hopewell Baptist Church, Monroe.
 
Four churches on the 2011 list did not appear on the 2012 list. Data was not available for three Charlotte churches: Elevation, Carmel Baptist and First Baptist; and a fourth church in Eden, Osborne Baptist. Elevation does not typically submit an ACP. The other three churches cited procedural oversights in submitting their data.
 
Adding the 34 on the N.C. list with at least 4 other churches whose data would place them in the top 1,000, they make up less than one percent of all 4,466 Baptist churches in the state. But the Sunday worship attendance of the largest churches made up about 17 percent of all N.C. Baptists in worship.
 
N.C. had 2,684 churches report worship service attendance in 2012. The total worship attendance reported was 401,673 resulting in an average of 150 people per reporting church. About 60 percent of the total number of churches submitted their data through the ACP. Among large churches about 90 percent submitted their statistics.
 
Numbers tell a story; they communicate a message. When studied over a period of time, the changes in numbers can tell a huge story. They may reveal weaknesses, even failures. We will be poor stewards and irresponsible to ignore the message communicated by numbers. Not long ago I listened to a pastor rail about his distaste for “the numbers game.” He boasted that his church does not submit numbers to the denomination. He was not interested in being party to “competition” through numbers.
 
The next words out of his mouth described how his church was celebrating a specific, numbered anniversary. That number matched the number of new churches they would plant in a specific number of years.
 
He identified the number of new groups they would start, and set the goal for the number of people they would have in attendance. I sat in disbelief as he rolled out another half-a-dozen numerical goals. His distaste for reporting numbers sounded more like a love affair with numbers when talking about his goals and ambitions.
 
It’s easy to be sanctimonious when talking about numbers. We can get hung up over numbers, and we can get equally hung up over ignoring numbers. Whether they are perceived as good or bad, they are what they are.
 
It’s time to prepare to fill out your church’s ACP. Without it, your church cannot register any messengers for the SBC annual meeting or the annual meeting of North Carolina Baptists. It is important for many reasons. We hope you will take time to complete the ACP. There is no need to fear or ignore the numbers.

8/12/2013 1:57:58 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments