Since the approval of the Administrative Committee (AC) funding plan at last year’s General Assembly (GA) of the PCA, a creative array of alternative proposals have been put forth, including one from yours truly. There are a lot of great ideas there and I hope each one gets considerable analysis and attention as ways to get the AC the money it needs. This is especially critical as the GA plan failed at the presbytery level.
A common feature of most of these proposals is some sort of de-coupling of byFaith magazine from the AC budget. The various proposals recognize that byFaith takes up a large part of the budget and is arguably the sole reason for the budgetary shortfall each year. On top of that, byFaith is seen as an unsuccessful effort at best – a waste of time and money at worst.
Nevertheless, I believe most in the PCA would love to have a good denominational magazine or publication of some sort. For whatever reason – I’m not interested in exploring those reasons here – the magazine is not well received by the broader membership or leadership of the PCA.
I do believe the PCA can have a useful and successful publication. So in the interests of offering a positive solution (after what probably seems to byFaith staff and supporters as round after round of negative criticism), and maybe even of jumpstarting a wider discussion of what we could do as a denomination, here’s a bit of brainstorming on a new approach, a sort of compilation of thoughts that have been rattling around in my head the last few days…
- I’m not good at names, but I’ll throw out as a working title PCA Connections. It recognizes one of our chief goals and characteristics as Presbyterians – connectedness – while also referring to the primary platform that I’d propose for a new publication: the Internet. Why a new name? At this point, byFaith has too much baggage attached. Also: fresh name = fresh start
- To begin with, PCA Connections would completely get rid of a print edition, at least to begin with. Print is a radically changing, some have argued a dying, media. It certainly isn’t helping the budgetary bottom line of byFaith to publish a slick looking (and it is very well put together, to give credit where it’s due) and expensive print edition that few people are willing to pay for.
- I’d begin by structuring PCA Connections along the lines of a web/internet aggregator. Think of news or political web sites like Politico or Real Clear Politics, or even the Drudge Report. These are successful examples of a web site dedicated to gathering articles and input from other sources. There can even be some amount of original content as well. In and around the PCA are all sorts of things being published on the Web on a daily basis. There is plenty of good content out there in all sorts of places: seminary and college web sites; church web sites; PCA agencies; places like Reformation 21 or the White Horse Inn or Third Mill or Ligonier or Gospel Coalition or the Aquila Report, and so on; and a host of blogs.
- Yes, blogs. For reasons I can’t fathom, the PCA bureaucracy seems to be anti-blog. Folks, it’s time to embrace this resource. Yes, there’s a lot of unseemly stuff written on blogs. That would not be part of the content on PCA Connections. But day in and day out there are a whole host of great things written. These provide great fodder for debate and discussion. If we want to promote the exchange of and interaction of diverse views on controversial topics we’re going to have to embrace the blogs. Encourage good, healthy discussion by linking to the best of the blogs as part of PCA Connections.
- Provide updates on what’s happening in the presbyteries. Get the stated clerks involved by including some kind of a summary of each presbytery’s meeting.
- Provide updates on what’s happening in the PCA agencies and committees. At every meeting there should be someone able and willing to provide a short synopsis of what happened. My own personal opinion is that there is a sort of leadership bubble developing in the PCA, and too much “official” discussion happens only within that small bubble of privileged folks who have the right connections, are in the right positions, and are therefore in the know. I mean, how else did it occur that the Cooperative Ministries Committee voted unanimously for a plan that has been rejected so soundly by the presbyteries? These folks are too isolated and most discussion takes place in a tiny little echo chamber. We need broader access, a more horizontal approach, to get more TE’s and RE’s involved in the life of the broader PCA.
- RUF updates from the various RUF web sites or through RUM.
- Chaplaincy updates
- Missions updates
- Church planting updates
- Link to, or re-publish (with permission) the writings of professors at the colleges and seminaries that have connections to the PCA. These are gifted men who have great things to share with us, whether from our own Covenant College and Seminary, or from friends at the Westminsters, RTS, Greenville Sem, and others.
- I think it would be neat to also publish select papers by our men at seminary. Have professors recommend the work of PCA men at their schools. Wouldn’t it be nice to see what the men we’ve sent off to seminary are learning and how they are applying that knowledge? Call me crazy, but I think it would be great.
- I’m forgetting some of the thoughts that have been running through my head in the last few days, but I think the above gives a good impression of how to begin a robust web site that would generate a lot of traffic.
- And lots of traffic means healthy ad revenue. (Do you doubt this? Look at all the booths at GA – each of those, and more, are potential advertisers!) And healthy ad revenue means profitability. And profitability means that, maybe, down the road, a print edition could re-emerge that people would actually want to pay for.
- Oh – and I think this could all be done with a relatively small staff. Maybe just a couple full time people. And – get ready for the shock – they wouldn’t even have to be in or anywhere near Atlanta! It would take effort to coordinate, but I think it could be done. It would be fun, and it would be a great service to our denomination.
What do you think?