A member of the clergy in one of the leading denominations commented that his church does not need publicity. If he considers it his church rather than that of the Lord Jesus Christ, perhaps the remark was appropriate.
But one could not sell that bill of fare to an automobile manufacturer or a dealer in electrical appliances. Such men know the value of publicity and good public relations.
Another clergyman was making a call on a local automobile dealer. “How’s business?” the good pastor asked. “Oh, fine,” the dealer replied. “How’s your business?” “Wonderful,” said the pastor. “I’m sold on my product.”
That’s the kind of conviction on the part of all Christians, whether clergymen or laymen, that it takes to communicate the Gospel of Christ.
The fact that a newspaper is considered the “secular press” makes little difference other than the standards of journalism for which it stands.
What Interests The News Desk
For lack of space I cannot begin to print all the religious news that comes to my desk. The newspaper which I serve as church editor is a secular one. But those who claim that the press is interested only in controversy are not entirely right.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. On the same premise, a good “walking sermon” communicates more of Christianity than some vague, rambling dissertation on a topic that one can read about in a periodical.
In other words, it is the preacher’s duty to preach Christ crucified, and the layman’s duty to do likewise. Both must then live up to their calling.
After I wrote up an interview with Smoky Burgess, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ heavy-hitting catcher and a born-again Christian, the mail brought replies. Among them was one from a reader who had backslidden and drifted away from church. He resolved to return to church.
Another story I did involved a jury foreman I met at a dinner meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals. While serving as foreman for a jury deciding a morals case, he had gotten permission from the jurors to read the Bible and pray for the couple involved. After the case was over, bitterness between the families was replaced by the love of Jesus Christ. The couple was soon married and was given a shower by members of the jury, who followed up and kept in touch with them. Not only did the veteran judge commend the foreman for work he had never before seen from the bench, but after the story appeared, the foreman within a few weeks had the opportunity to testify for his Lord on several hundred occasions.
The Use Of Mass Media
There are many such instances of real, newsworthy personalities and Christianity in action. But the church editor must be informed of them.
Both the Holy Spirit and the work of Christians are indispensable in helping the communications media to be informed of such news.
It would not hurt ministers one bit if they majored in journalism in undergraduate school, or at least worked on their college papers. Many laymen in churches do a better communications job than do professional public relations firms.
Church-related colleges are woefully lacking in turning out journalism graduates whose principal training has been the broad background of the liberal arts college coupled with some fundamental but realistic courses in newspapering.
If the Apostle Paul had had the communications facilities available to Billy Graham today, he would have utilized them. Newspapers are one of these.
As the Church today sends out its product into the firing line, it should be sending both newspapermen and people about whom newspapermen can write with a witness of the Gospel.
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