Two years ago I got a strange phone call. It was Russ Rankin, then president of Baptist Communicators Association, a 60-year-old organization comprised of individuals who narrate the story of what Southern Baptists do to carry out the Great Commission worldwide.
Russ wanted to know if I would serve as the awards chair-elect for 2013 and the awards chair for 2014. The call was strange because though I have been a member of the organization sporadically for a number of years—I had never attended its annual workshop.
My networking with most of the individuals in BCA had been through Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings and the now defunct Baptist Press Collegiate Journalism Conference that involved an average of 15-20 of our state Baptist colleges and their advisors, some of whom are BCA members.
Nonetheless, after consultation with my supervisor at my former job, I agreed to take on the responsibility. It was my pleasure to observe at the BCA workshop in Little Rock, and then jump in these past several months to recruit judges, record evaluations, create certificates, select award trophies, create a slide show, plan an awards room, plan an awards banquet—and celebrate the giftedness of our Baptist communicators.
This past week at the workshop at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Asheville, N.C., a verse shared during a devotional time caught my attention. In Luke, there is an account of Jesus sending out the 70 to be ahead of Him and prepare the people for His coming. He talks about “unrepentant towns” and when the 70 return He tells them to rejoice “their names are written in heaven.” Jesus tell them not to belabor over their power and the authority He gave to them.
After praising His Father, Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit about what has happened and then turns to His disciples and says “privately”: “The eyes that see the things you see are blessed! For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.”
What an incredible description of how blessed we are as Baptist communicators!
Indeed as we hear and tell and see and show through a variety of mediums ranging from state Baptist newspapers to denominational magazines, from social media campaigns to unique websites and more, we are blessed. I was doubly blessed this past year as awards chair for BCA to see and hear what our members submitted to be judged as their very finest work. Some of it I had seen and celebrated in the course of following Baptist work—and some of it was brand new to me and I marveled at the stories. I wept as I watched the videos and read the words that will forever burn in my heart. The images have already imprinted themselves on a page in my mind’s eye.
If you are a Baptist communicator, or you supervise those who are involved in this important labor of sharing what Baptists do to extend God’s Kingdom here on earth, to be involved in Great Commission work—then please consider membership in BCA if you are not already.
This year’s program was loosely themed, “With Purpose,” and as I thought about that—I was struck by the fact that our purpose never changes. We strive always to be about bringing glory to God.
The contest over which I had responsibility is designed to recognize the best work, and yet, through a rigorous evaluation process by teams of excellent, professional judges, our members are also given helpful evaluation for each piece they submit.
They also receive the encouragement and feedback from their peers that keeps them connected in a way that many who are from very small shops and operations may not otherwise receive.
For some, the BCA contest seems overrun by the larger ministry entities whose members outnumber the smaller organizations, but in fact, it’s a beautiful thing to see healthy competition. Many of our members have swapped ministry positions through the years in answer to God’s calling and the organization facilitates this by providing networking opportunities for building relationships and showcasing skillsets.
If there is an elephant in the room about BCA, it has been the way in which people are truly focused on the task of communication and don’t seem to waver from it. State Baptist papers, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, GuideStone, Golden Gate Seminary, and several of our state Baptist colleges were represented this year at the conference, as were freelance writers and graphic designers and others.
Although the leadership changes on an annual basis, the fellowship and networking stays the same—and withstands what may be a pendulum swing of various program items and speakers based on a particular leader’s choice. At Little Rock and Asheville, I found the speakers and mission activities resonated with my own views on many levels and I am looking forward to more of the same in San Francisco next year and in Oklahoma in 2016 at the Falls Creek Conference Center.
As Southern Baptists move forcefully ahead into the 21st Century, my challenge is that communicators will be bold in telling the story of how God is at work in the hearts and minds of those who seek to extend His Kingdom.
And ultimately, they tell the same old story, of Jesus and His love.
To find out more about Baptist Communicators Association, go to http://baptistcommunicators.org/