BETTER TOGETHER – It is more than just a phrase. The understanding that Arkansas Baptists are better and stronger through cooperating together is the very DNA of our family of churches. We have always believed and worked cooperatively based on the knowledge that we can do more collectively than as individual churches. This is the final print edition of the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN); however, the ABN will continue through a robust development of its online capabilities and other potential new platforms. In its new stage of ministry, the ABN will continue to play a vital role in encouraging Arkansas Baptists to cooperate together.
This “Better Together” belief is affirmed in more than a century of cooperative experience in sending missionaries around the world and nearly 100 years of the Cooperative Program bringing us together. Its foundation is seen throughout the New Testament model of the church. Even as the Gospel spread throughout the known world, church leaders worked to stay connected through missions teams and communication. Paul’s New Testament letters carried a constant thread of connecting churches through information of what was happening around the world. He passed messages between church leaders and churches. He called churches to participate in the global missions offering for the church in Jerusalem.
Information connected churches and church leaders. Hearing about the ministry of other churches encouraged them to higher levels of Gospel involvement. For example, Paul blessed the church in Corinth when he explained, “For I know your eagerness, and I brag about you to the Macedonians: ‘Achaia has been prepared since last year,’ and your zeal has stirred up most of them.” (2 Corinthians 9:2) Paul knew the testimony of one church’s ministry commitment would positively encourage other churches towards higher levels of ministry.
The ABN has been connecting Arkansas Baptists together since 1901. Its role as a news service has been to celebrate the impact of Arkansas Baptists serving together to reach our state with the Gospel and send missionaries around the world through Southern Baptist Convention missions. The ABN has provided information inspiring Arkansas Baptists to join together in new and greater ways to advance the Gospel. Throughout the years, the ABN has served Arkansas Baptists through the talents of men and women who love Jesus and believe in our cooperative endeavors. We are grateful for those who served us – from most recently to those who founded this news service.
As we move forward, the ABN will continue to bring together Arkansas Baptists around the Gospel’s call to serve cooperatively together to reach Arkansas, the United States, and the world. While this will be the ABN’s final print edition, the ABN continues to serve Arkansas Baptists through its website and online news services at arkansasbaptists.org. Each day we are continuing to tell the ministry stories of Arkansas Baptists and ABSC churches to stir us all to a greater zeal for the Gospel. The ABN is, and will continue to be, a vital tool for bringing us together through the ministry of information. While the tools may be new, the focus will be the same.
As the Arkansas Baptist News makes this transition, the day to day operations will transferred to the communications staff of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. The existing staff of the Arkansas Baptist News will not be continuing with this transition. We are very appreciative of their work serving Arkansas Baptists.
This final print edition provides some examples of how this new stage of ministry will develop. First, we are conducting listening sessions of Arkansas Baptists from around the state to learn what information is most vital to you. We would also like to hear from you. There is an online survey available for all Arkansas Baptists to help in this process. Many of you as print subscribers will receive a letter and copy of the survey as well.
We greatly value your input! If you would like to take the aforementioned survey online, visit absc.org/abnupdate. Also, we would like to make sure we have the most up-to-date contact information for you so that we can include you in all future correspondence. You can update your contact information at absc.org/abnupdate. If you have any trouble with this, please email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to help you.
All online content and complete access to everything on the ABN website will be free and without subscription fees. We are working to refund subscription fees paid for future issues that will not be published.
Second, the feedback we have received thus far has highlighted the importance of telling ministry stories of both individual Arkansas Baptists and churches. This edition premieres two new features that will continue online – Arkansas Baptist Profiles and Arkansas Baptist Church Celebrations. Arkansas Baptist Profiles will share the stories of both ministers and church members who are serving Jesus in myriads of ways around our state. Arkansas Church Celebrations will highlight the creative ways churches of all sizes and geographic regions are impacting our state. Our goal is to encourage and excite you to say, “we can do that at our church.”
Third, we are working to share more stories from our ABSC agencies and institutions. This edition tells the story of a creative fundraising and awareness effort by the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries. We have begun sharing more stories on the ABN website from our universities as well. These agencies and institutions are an integral part of the overall plan for advancing the Gospel around our state. We are seeing God move in unprecedented ways through the Arkansas Baptists that serve in these Cooperative Program ministries. These stories must be shared and will undoubtedly encourage Arkansas Baptists.
Finally, we are brainstorming new platforms to share these inspiring stories. Beginning in April, we will pilot a new email version of the ABN online. This email will include these new feature columns, stories from our agencies and institutions, and information about what is happening in ABSC and SBC life. We are looking into other new platforms such as apps and a print magazine, just to name a few.
Thank you so very much for faithfully reading and subscribing to the ABN. We know these changes will be uncomfortable for some. Change, while inevitable, is never easy. Change in the ways information is published and consumed is however creating new methods of reaching more people and more types of people than ever before. It is our prayer that the new features and platforms being developed will enhance the flow of information to Arkansas Baptists and connect us to the incredible power of our cooperative missions together. After all, we are truly “better together.”
By Greg Addison, associate executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.