by Keith Bassham
Nearly any “thing” you can think of spends a certain amount of its resources promoting itself. This is true whether the “thing” is an organization, a product, or even a communication medium. At times the “thing” will be driven to speak up for itself.
That is what we do at the Tribune about this time each year — we speak up for ourselves. In an ordinary month, nearly all the magazine content does what the Tribune has been doing 65 years — telling the good news of what God is doing among the churches and preachers of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. That is, we speak up for the Fellowship, and not for ourselves.
But at least once a year, we do speak up for the Tribune. I mentioned in a column last month that the Tribune’s founding editor Noel Smith published something about that shortly before his death. I was in error — sort of.
The fact is, the full page (reproduced here) appeared in the January 18, 1974, issue, typeset and printed a few days before Mr. Smith’s death on January 12. Things like that happen in the world of periodical publishing. As an example, I am working on the February issue of the Tribune as I write this. Assuming I finish this article, and we meet our printer’s deadline (that is an ironic term in this context), and further assuming I should meet my Maker a day or so later, I would still be the editor for the February issue, albeit posthumously. Something like that happened in January 1974.
And nothing in the preceding paragraph is all that necessary for what I am doing here at the moment, but at least if something unforeseen does happen, I have corrected the error, and my conscience is clear on that score.
The main point was and is, what Mr. Smith said about the weekly eight-page Tribune in 1974 can be said as well for the current monthly version. Though the newspaper has become a magazine, and black and white newsprint has given way to glossy pages with full-color photos and images, and though we now give readers the option to take advantage of digital versions of the magazine, what Editor Smith said more than 40 years ago is still the truth. Amid all the changes we have seen in the world and in our Fellowship, his statement is a constant. The Tribune is still the Fellowship “meeting place,” and it is the only meeting place where we all can meet regardless of time zone or geography.
Because of the vital role of the Tribune, and because of the way the Tribune is funded, once a year I ask our churches and pastors to commit to the February Tribune Offering. Realizing the importance of the Tribune ministry, a large part of our budget comes from churches who send support monthly (much like a missionary), and many of those churches receive a monthly bundle of Tribunes. Then there is the revenue we receive from individual subscriptions and advertising. And finally, we receive the annual February Tribune Offering, which has become more important to our survival the last several years.
To be honest, just about every aspect of Fellowship ministry is under stress. We here at the Tribune have been and will continue to pull for our missionaries, our colleges, and our other entities. We do all we can to support them and to urge others to do the same. But right now, we need to shine a spotlight on our own need.
We need to raise $150,000 in this year’s February Tribune Offering. We have raised that amount before. More than once, in fact, when the need was not so great as it is now. If this is your first time to participate, a gift of $15 is the cost of an annual subscription, and all gifts are appreciated. As a starting point, why not cover the price of a single subscription and perhaps one or two more? Many will give a larger amount, but you have to start somewhere. For more information, email email@example.com or call (417) 831-3996.
In the meantime, we will continue to provide news and information for and about our Fellowship. We will continue to provide Tribunes to new churches, retired ministers and widows of ministers, our Bible college students, our missionaries, and to a large number of churches outside our Fellowship to keep everyone informed. We will continue to provide news and other content to help churches and believers grow and prosper. We will continue to produce a quality publication that reflects well on all of us. We will carefully manage our finances and bring good value to the Baptist Bible Fellowship. That has been, and will continue to be, my commitment.
FOUR THINGS ABOUT THE TRIBUNE
- The Baptist Bible Fellowship still needs the Tribune. No other part of our Fellowship can regularly be in so many places, so often, and so economically, as the Tribune can. And while there are other fine Christian magazines and papers, there is only one publication in the world with the primary emphasis on OUR churches and OUR preachers, and that is the Tribune. We promote the doctrines and the values of the Baptist Bible Fellowship in a way no other medium can.
- The Tribune connects people in and out of the Fellowship. Besides being a news source for people in the Fellowship, the Tribune is the public face for the BBFI. About 10,000 churches receive at least one copy of the Tribune each month, and many of our friends in other fellowships, conventions, and mission organizations depend on the Tribune to keep them up to date on our goings on. Add to that some Lifeway research showing that a majority of Christian leaders still rely upon and prefer print as their primary source for ministry-related news, you can see the importance of the Tribune in our Fellowship’s outreach.
- The Tribune supports the messages from our churches’ pulpits with feature articles about doctrinal, moral, social, and political issues. When you distribute the Tribune at church, your evangelism efforts are promoted with news stories about churches reaching their own communities. Church people get to know the missionaries and their families a world away, and they are reminded we are all involved in a great enterprise. In last month’s issue, the entire Fellowship was able to celebrate the life and ministry of Marjorie Browning as a family, and we all experienced both the sense of our diminishment and her victory through the pages of the Tribune.
- We provide subscriptions at no charge to all our BBFI missionaries and students in BBFI-owned colleges, to ministry retirees and their widows, to new churches, and to thousands of non-Fellowship churches. That’s how the Tribune shows up in prisons, in truck stops, medical offices, and libraries. We also provide reprint and archival services, data, and historical information for students, scholars, and churches. Our regular website (www.tribune.org) hosts current Tribune articles and digital archives in addition to a monthly digital edition of the magazine. We also communicate through a monthly email update and a Tribune Facebook page. And this past fall, the Tribune began funding a completely revamped BBFI website at (www.bbfi.org).