ABN Columns & Viewpoints

Editor's Note: This section includes current and past ABN columns - published in the print edition and online exclusives - as well as viewpoints from a variety of Arkansas Baptist and Southern Baptist authors. Opinions expressed are that of the author and are not necessarily an endorsement.


It’s easy to criticize, harder to praise

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News 

We live in a complicated time. What is good is bad, and what is bad is good. Things our parents and grandparents would have never tolerated we now regularly allow into our living rooms via TV every evening. In my mind, there is little doubt human history is coming to some sort of climax, but how soon only God knows.

In our present age, it is so easy to be critical of so many things, while actually turning a blind eye to things – and sin – that we enjoy.

YarbroughAs followers of Jesus Christ, there are things that should be off-limits, or at least handled in private among believers.

This includes criticism of one’s church. 

I have often said, “If I ever get to the point that I can’t be positive and support the ministries of the church where I attend, rather than sow discord among the brethren, I will just leave.”

While our criticism may be voiced to a small group of friends and others we trust in our church, the fact is our negativity can have an adverse impact on the church’s staff and ministry.

We all are – to some degree – guilty of this type of talk. Rather than criticize, perhaps it would be better to pause and have a little talk with Jesus, who sees the ministry of His Church very differently than human eyes and ears ever will.

Arkansas Baptists enjoy churches of every size, style and location. The fact is, no matter how successful the ministry of a church is, no church is perfect.

Your pastor, ministerial staff and key leaders need your support, not your criticism. 

Remember what your mother said, “If you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything at all.”

And many a parent has told a child, “Don’t you worry about (insert name), you just worry about (your name)!”

Remember what Scripture says in Luke 6:42 (NIV): “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.


Lest we forget: CP reaches a lost world

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

The cooperative work of Southern Baptists has defined and shaped their mission into perhaps the greatest evangelical denomination the world has ever known.

But with great success, comes great responsibility. The focus of the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) – that of carrying out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) – continues to this day despite the growth and diversity of the denomination through the years.

Lest we forget what the Cooperative Program is all about, let’s revisit our history for a moment. (Note the next few paragraphs are a summary of the excellent CP resources found at sbc.net/cp.)

YarbroughAs the SBC grew and each entity within the denomination sought to fulfill its assignments, special offering appeals would be made to the churches. This “societal” approach (or method) to funding missions and ministry resulted in severe financial deficits, competition among entities, overlapping pledge campaigns and frequent emergency appeals which greatly hampered the expanding Southern Baptist ministry opportunities. It got so bad at times that some SBC entities were forced to take out loans to cover operating costs until pledges or special offerings were received.

To help this situation and to better organize the denomination’s resources, SBC leaders proposed the 75 Million Campaign in 1919, a five-year pledge campaign that, for the first time in the denomination’s history, included everything – the missions and ministries of all the state conventions, as well as that of the SBC. 

Though the campaign fell short of its goals, a partnership of missions support was conceived out of the effort: The Cooperative Program. “Since its launch in 1925, the effectiveness of the Cooperative Program has been dependent upon individuals, churches, state conventions, and SBC entities cooperating, working toward a common goal of sharing the gospel with every person on the planet,” states an article at SBC.net.

“Cooperation” is of course the key component of the Cooperative Program, which in its simplest terms is dependent on the gifts of every Southern Baptist member – given through his or her church – to work. Each church determines how much of its undesignated gifts to give through the Cooperative Program to be used to reach people in their state and world. This amount is then forwarded to each state convention, such as the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

At the annual meeting of each state convention, messengers decide what percentage of the funds given by congregations across the state stays in the state to support local missions and ministries and what percentage is forwarded to the SBC for North American and international missions and ministries.

Messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting each year then decide how the gifts will be divided among SBC entities charged with various assignments, such as sending and supporting missionaries, training pastors and other ministry leaders, providing relief for retired ministers and widows and addressing social, moral and ethical concerns relating to the Southern Baptist faith and families.

What’s the result of all this cooperation? More people around the world get the opportunity to hear the gospel and receive Christ through the efforts of cooperating SBC churches.

Literally, every church – regardless of its size – has a worldwide kingdom impact through participation in the Cooperative Program.

What a wonderful plan! And to think it all starts with the faithfulness of each individual member of a Southern Baptist church! To God be the glory for the great things He has done!

“Since you excel in so many ways … I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving” (2 Cor. 8:7, NLT).


Newspapers are part of your future

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News 

I have been privileged the past couple years to attend the Arkansas Press Association annual SuperConference. This year’s meeting was in Hot Springs.

YarbroughIt’s a gathering of reporters, editors and publishers from across the state who discuss strategies, trends and the current status of the newspaper industry. 

In one breakout session about how to increase revenue, conference leaders and attendees discussed how newspapers are once again gaining ground with advertisers and marketers because, simply, “they produce results.”

While it is clear that newspapers are in a state of general decline, millions of people still pick up a newspaper every day – or access a related newspaper product – to find out what is going on in the world.

Successful newspapers today continue to diversify their offerings by coupling a print product (traditional newspaper) with online media and social media and through alternative publishing avenues.

While a lot of what was being discussed was positive toward the newspaper business, I heard a disturbing assessment about the general state of the Arkansas economy.

One executive said his newspaper was having to deal with adjusting to a more than $100,000 loss in revenue due to two automobile dealerships closing in his town.

In general, it was agreed that some of the hardest hit areas across the state are in rural areas and small towns. These areas, of course, are where many of our Southern Baptist churches are located.

The Arkansas Baptist News (ABN) has been affected by general economic downturn since 2008 in the loss of churches with “every resident” subscription plans.

While some people in the churches that cancel their church plans still subscribe as individuals, they amount to far fewer than the dozens or hundreds who subscribed through a church plan.

Not once since I have been editor of the ABN can I recall a church canceling subscriptions because it did not like our newspaper – it is always attributed to financial difficulties of the church, and in some cases, because the church is disbanding. 

In months to come, the ABN will be announcing some exciting changes in your state Baptist newspaper.

Look for more pages and more color, a new easier-to-read design, as well as many other exciting changes as we embrace a bright future!

Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.


How the Malaysia airlines tragedy affects you

Jim Denison

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, a Boeing 777 carrying 298 people, was on its way yesterday from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in the Ukraine, 20 miles from the Russian border. American officials believe the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, but do not yet know who fired it. This tragedy affects you, for at least four reasons.

Read more at http://www.christianheadlines.com/denison-forum/four-ways-the-malaysia-airlines-tragedy-affects-you.html


No one defines you but you!

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

You have a great state Baptist newspaper!

I can say that not because I am the editor, or because of the wonderful staff employed there or because of the committed board of directors who faithfully give of their time to serve there. 

YarbroughThe Arkansas Baptist News (ABN) is great because of Arkansas Baptists who had the forethought and wisdom to establish an official voice for Baptists in Arkansas via action of convention in Paragould in 1901. 

Having a voice for Arkansas Baptists living and serving the Lord in the Natural State is vitally important. I can’t count the times I’ve talked to readers telling me how a story or photo about God’s work across the state inspired them.  

Information, of course, is power – if used in the right way. 

But a state newspaper is important for many other reasons. It is important to keep Arkansas Baptists up-to-date on the work and actions of the state convention Executive Board and staff. 

Thankfully, Arkansas Baptists have been blessed throughout the years with confident, committed and highly focused state staff, who keep the churches – where the real ministry happens – their utmost priority. 

We all know the work of the church is changing, along with dramatic changes in our society and government. As in the past, there is a need to educate Arkansas Baptists to this change so they can take the appropriate course of action.  

I’ve been told and heard it said many times, “No one can define you but you!”

As I grow older, I know that to be true. It’s time for Southern Baptists in Arkansas to serve with boldness and tenacity, seeking to reach our state and nation for Jesus Christ while there is still time. The ABN  will be here to cheer us on to greater heights of missions and ministry.

No one defines us but us! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the next great revival and awakening start right here in Arkansas, right now! 

May God grant us this privilege!

Tim Yarbrough is the editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.