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.


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.


‘One nation under God?’

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News 

Rarely do I agree with a politician and his or her ideology and direction for our country. Most of them seem to be more talk than action today.

YarbroughRecently, while visiting the LifeWay bookstore in Jonesboro, I picked up a copy of “One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future,”  by Ben Carson M.D.

Carson, though I don’t agree with all of his positions – in particular that concerning gay marriage – does seem to have some pretty good ideas about how to get our country back on track, at least in a fiscal sense.

You see, Carson isn’t really a true book politican, he’s a retired doctor, much like the businessmen, professional people and clergy who were instrumental in the founding of our country.

Everywhere I look it seems there is evidence the once proud United States is “coming apart at the seams,” as musician Neil Young once sang.

And most non-liberal thinking people are seeing it very clearly.

Just today, I read a letter to the editor in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from a Jacksonville man who said in part it appears the United States won’t be  brought down by a foreign power, but rather from inside. He says it will be through the assault on the family, faith, morality and as a result of our wicked and decaying government.

It’s time for Christians and the Church to stand for what is right and call for the replacement of leaders who have their own  interest in mind rather than the people. Our faith in Jesus Christ requires us to speak up and do what’s right.

Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.


How the SBC is like Walmart

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News 

As you read this I’ll be finishing up yet another year at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.

This year’s meeting was held in Baltimore, which is a great city with a lot of historical significance for Southern Baptists. 

YarbroughAnnie Armstrong – for whom the denomination’s domestic missions offering is named – was born in Baltimore and attended Seventh Street Baptist Church and Eutaw Place Church (now Woodbrook Church) in the city.

 This annual meeting was undoubtedly like most of the 20-plus I have attended. 

There was a lot of fellowship and preaching, as well as some passionate debate on numerous resolutions of significance to the convention and society in general.

But one of the unique aspects I have found in attending annual meetings is that it is the one place you can go where everything SBC is laid out for all to see – for better or for worse.

There are the pastors in their fancy suits (fewer than there used to be) and ministers of all types, laypeople, denominational folks, sometimes protesters, and of course, the many, many exhibits in the large hall. 

In some ways, it reminds me of a walk through Walmart. If you don’t like or find what you need on one aisle, just move on to the next.

Many tens of thousands of dollars are spent on the annual meeting each year, and one has to wonder how many more years Southern Baptists will continue to support a large, expensive get-together with dwindling attendance.

If there were such a thing as “investing” in the annual meeting, I would put my money on the LifeWay bookstore. While it seems everyone else was spending money in Baltimore, the bookstore was taking a lot of it in. 

But in the end, attending the annual meeting always makes me feel proud to be a Southern Baptist. After all, where else can you hear an impassioned message on the sanctity of life, then walk outside and get heckled by pro-abortion protestors? Time to move on to aisle nine!

Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.