Headlines are for churches with the real heart of Christianity. The church which is transforming individual lives, the community, and the image of the church itself through the preaching and application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the one most likely to break into print with the best kind of news.
Here is what I mean. In our city, the mayor walked off in the middle of a political panel show when he discovered it was being sponsored by a beer company. Although it meant taking a chance politically, the walkout retained for the mayor the respect of the junior boys in his Sunday school class.
Believe me, everybody talks about the religious convictions of the mayor because of this and other incidents in which he has taken his stand unequivocably with the cause of Christ.
A couple of years ago a group of agnostic parents brought suit to eliminate Bible reading and other religious practices from the schools in our country. Into the fray as a friend of the court stepped an attorney representing church leaders defending the school board’s policies. He took on the job voluntarily, with considerable cost to himself, because of his faith.
After the state Supreme Court upheld the school board and the “friends of the court,” a network television news department wanted to do a feature story on this attorney. He turned down the offer because he did not want it to appear that he had taken the case for any reason other than his religious conviction.
One of our area’s beauty queens became a television star and hit the headlines with a series of marriages and divorces replete with sensational charges. But the last time she made the news it was the result of the work of a faithful pastor and church. To the surprise of thousands of readers, she is leading a changed life because of an encounter with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. She is teaching a Bible class for women in jail and is praying for the last millionaire husband, who accused her of attempting to poison him.
Another beauty, with a different story, has impressed readers around the world where she has traveled not so much because she is a musically talented college queen, but because she is a proud and active member of a highly respected religious group.
These individual lives, reflecting the transforming and strengthening power of Jesus Christ, have put local churches in the news in a way that is meaningful and relevant to readers.
I think, too, of the pastor and several laymen who in the face of ridicule from the left conducted a Christian anti-Communism school here which resulted in the inclusion by state law of a course on the evils of Communism in our high schools; the state senator who because of Christian conviction stood up and defended the state school superintendent when a rightist group was pushing a local crowd toward unfounded condemnation of him; the minister who is even now battling the way evolution is taught in high schools here because he feels it infringes on the religious beliefs (in the Genesis creation account) of his son.
All of these events have put the churches on the front pages of the newspapers.
At least two churches in our city have captured the public eye through the press by their efforts to meet the problem of segregation and discrimination on the basis of Christ’s equal salvation for all those who trust in him.
Other local churches have made headlines in their efforts to shape the denominational image by opposing trends away from biblically grounded truth in some seminaries, denominational literature, or projects involving their organizational leaders.
Doing the job of a church so well that they are the fastest growing in the area, or in the country, or in the denomination; or so well that they lead the nation or the denomination in gifts to missions or in the number of young people entering full-time Christian service—this has paid off with attention in the press for several congregations.
And when churches have done things together, they have broken into print because they have been able to attract the attention of so many of our citizens—who turn out by the thousands for the Orange Bowl Easter Sunrise Pageant, or a Billy Graham Crusade.
It is not the church which sets out to seek publicity that makes the best news; the one which sets out to do the best job as a church is most likely to get the “good news” into the paper.
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