News for the week of Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Opinion — Reflections
Change Is Necessary to Remain Relevant
By Lonnie Wilkey
editor, Baptist and Reflector

All my life I have heard the phrase, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Well, we can add change to that list.

Change is going to occur. If you don’t believe it, look in the mirror. Then, go find a picture of yourself five, 10, or 20 years ago. Every person is proof positive that change occurs.

Change is necessary to be relevant in today’s world. Churches face that constantly. How do you change to reach an ever-changing world without compromising the gospel?

The one thing that does not change and is always relevant is God and His Holy Word, the Bible.

Change is also inevitable for your Baptist state paper. In 2015, the Baptist and Reflector will celebrate its 180th anniversary. Established in 1835 as THE BAPTIST, the paper has been informing and enlightening Tennessee Baptists across the years.

The paper has had different names over time, but the same goal. It has been an official part of the Tennessee Baptist Convention family since it was purchased by the Executive Board in 1921.

Over the years the paper has changed dramatically as technology changed.

In the 26 years I have served on staff I have witnessed amazing change. When I joined the B&R in 1988 I had an electric typewriter. We had to “set” type, print it out on photographic paper, and hang it up to dry. We then would “cut and paste.” Looking back, it’s amazing that we were able to produce a paper each week.

Now, I sit at a computer and type my column on the page it will appear on in the paper. When all the pages are completed, Connie Bushey makes a pdf file and sends it straight to the printer. Change is good.

The paper is now facing additional changes. If you also get the paper’s online version you received a notice last week about a survey and was asked to go online to complete it. In this issue, we are announcing the survey so our print readers will have the same opportunity to go online to complete the survey.

Changes are in store for the B&R. The economic reality is that the time is soon approaching that we will not be able to print and mail the B&R weekly. Production costs continue to mount.

In order to stay ahead of the curve the Baptist and Reflector, which is now a part of the Convention Communications team, is studying ways we can be relevant in the future.

The Baptist and Reflector has been an integral part of convention life for nearly 180 years. That does not change. I have had many people tell me over the years that the B&R is their connection to the convention. The paper is how they know what is going on.

The challenge is to find a way to keep that connection alive in the future. The survey will help us in that regard.

It is brief and can be completed in about three minutes. I ask you to take the time to let us know what you think about the paper —

Among the two primary options being considered are printing the paper as it is now every two weeks with a greater online presence or having a monthly magazine format with a major presence online.

We are certainly not the first state paper to consider these options. In fact, we are one of about half a dozen that still basically prints weekly (we currently skip six issues each year).

Several major papers in surrounding states such as Georgia, Arkansas, and North Carolina print twice a month. Several states print monthly. It’s not a new concept; it’s just new for Tennessee.

We want your input. It will be critical in helping to determine the future of your state paper.

As editor for 16 years it will be a major adjustment not to have a weekly print issue, but change is inevitable.

My desire is that no matter what the frequency or format, the B&R will be relevant to Kingdom work, telling the story of Tennessee Baptists.

And, when all is said and done, may God be glorified in whatever we do.


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