Advice to preachers: A Bible in one hand, the local newspaper in the other; and a resolution for all

Article supplied by The Baptist Press, reprinted with permission from the Western Recorder, a publication of the Kentucky Baptist Convention

The following is written by Randy Adams, in his column First Person. He is executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention

Reading a newspaper improves your leadership

Randy Adams

VANCOUVER, Wash. (BP) — It was once said a preacher ought to have the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other — that the sermon needs to connect biblical truth to life today, life in this world and life in a particular place.

That image of the pastor-preacher with the Bible and the newspaper made sense when I first heard it many years ago. It still resonates with me.

I suspect, however, I’m fighting an uphill battle on this one. Newspapers are in decline. Most young adults don’t read them anymore. News is found in other places and with personal “filters.”

Uphill battle or not, it’s one that deserves a fight. Ministry leaders need to read their local newspaper. Thumbing through the paper with your hands, your eye catches things it would miss if you read the paper on your smartphone or computer.

First, your local newspaper helps you to know your community. Your city has issues involving economic, political, legal, educational and moral aspects of life. The churches, residents, schoolchildren, businesses, homeowners, homeless, everyone in the community is affected by decisions of community leaders and the particular issues the city is facing. And certain hot-button issues change daily.

No person should know more about the city than ministry leaders. You might pick up bits and pieces down at the coffee shop or through the internet, but the local newspaper will give you the broadest coverage of life in your community. Rarely a week goes by that I don’t relate something from the newspaper to my sermon text on Sunday.

Second, who’s being born and who is dying in your town? Most local papers will inform you daily or weekly about these matters.

If someone is killed in a tragic accident, or a young person’s life is cut short in some way, the church needs to know about it and maybe you can minister to the family. At the very least you can pray for them. Who is filing a marriage license or divorce papers? Who was arrested for a DUI or other criminal behavior? The paper will tell you. Maybe you can reach out to them. Maybe you host substance abuse classes, or Divorce Care classes, or parenting classes and they can be invited to attend.

Third, what’s going on at the schools in your town? Which students had a great game, suffered an injury, had a part in the school play or won the spelling bee?

Every week young people in your town are featured in the local newspaper. How encouraging it is for them to receive an extra copy of the article, with a note written by a pastor, Sunday School teacher or other ministry leader.

Fourth, ministry leaders can use the paper to influence others. You can write letters to the editor. I’ve written articles for local papers and established relationships with reporters. Sometimes the local paper will publish articles about something the church is doing as a byproduct of these relationships.

Fifth, the local newspaper will help you pray for your city and its leaders. Every city has people and situations that need prayer. The newspaper will provide you matters for which to pray each and every day.

These principles are not for people who don’t care about their city or have no desire to impact their city. This is about ministry leaders, sent by God to a particular place, for a particular time. No one should care more about the city and its people than the ministry leaders called there. The newspaper is indispensable in connecting you to the city in a holistic way.

Randy Adams, online at randyadams.org, is executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention.

 

Resolution to ministers from Chuck Lawless:

Similarly, Chuck Lawless listed 10 things for ministers to do in 2018. This is number four on his list and my thanks to KPA Past President Chip Hutcheson for passing this along:

I will read or listen to the news every day. I’m amazed by how ill-informed church leaders are about the world God loves. We miss prayer and missions opportunities when we know nothing except our own little world.

Chuck Lawless is Dean of Doctoral Studies and Vice-President of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Lawless was awarded an MDiv and a PhD in Evangelism/Church Growth from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he also served as professor and dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. Prior to that, he was pastor of two Ohio churches. A conference leader and author of several books, including Discipled Warriors, Putting on the Armor, Mentor, and Nobodies for Jesus, Dr. Lawless has a strong interest in discipleship and mentoring.

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