byFaith's powder-puff journalism...

A couple months ago, brother David took part in a discussion on the floor of Ohio Presbytery (PCA) concerning the chronic deficit faced by the denomination's administrative headquarters in Atlanta. Some of the denomination's better-known men had joined together to try to get amendments to the Book of Church Order passed that would put in place a per/member tax on individual churches that, for all practical purposes, would be mandatory. Their effort was repudiated by the presbyteries, though, so it's been back to the drawing board.

As other less-drastic solutions were being considered, someone discovered the denomination's online and print magazine, byFaith, was losing money hand over fist and the money lost each year came from the denomination's administrative headquarters. Further, the amount of money headquarters was providing byFaith each year is roughly equivalent to headquarter's deficit.

Ding dong!

In the midst of a debate over how to address the situation, brother David brought a motion to remove the funding the PCA headquarters was providing byFaith, and the motion easily passed. So now there's an overture coming to this summer's General Assembly calling for byFaith to find its fuding somewhere else and it's likely this will mean byFaith will either have to gain subscribers or stop publishing.

If they stop publishing, it won't be much of a loss...

From the beginning byFaith has been the voice of the PCA's hip, rich, and famous and it's avoided publishing anything interesting for fear of interesting morphing into controversial. As several lamented here in the comments on Baylyblog a while ago, its letters to the editor have been ruled with an iron fist, so quite predictably the magazine has very few readers and only a tiny proportion of the PCA has bothered to subscribe.

The editor of byFaith can't be pleased that Illiana Presbytery has now also adopted Ohio Presbytery's overture. Recently, he ran an article on the overture that was a bit snippy.

I responded with this letter to the editor:

This (Ohio Presbytery) overture is wise. bYfAITH has long been a house organ speaking only for the PCA's status quo. This is never a prescription for the financial success of any publication, nor is it helpful to the ongoing reform of the Church. Let the status quo fund it. Them's calling the tunes ought to pay the piper.

More on it can be read at Baylyblog dot com in the post, "The hens are squawking and the goose is chasing David across the barnyard."

byFaith sat on the letter for weeks. Then finally, I got an e-mail from Editor Richard Doster saying he wouldn't publish the letter because it didn't have the "proper tone for the PCA's denominational magazine."

I'm smiling.



Well, my friends, here is my (and Wes White's too, incidentally) analysis as to why denominational news magazines are having problems, and why they won't acknowledge blogs. It's because we did not earn our place at the table through the prescribed means. We took our place at the table through independent means. This means that we are completely outside the good old boys network, and yet we have a voice that they cannot shut off. This is one reason why those in power hate blogs. They can't shut us up, as dearly as they would like to. And people get their news far more from the internet than a printed magazine. ByFaith will never get its print subscription off the ground for this reason.

In the age of the Internet, byfaith's problems would hardly be unique. The Bible College house magazine I used to write for has long since called it a day; the costs of supporting it could not be justified any longer, and this was before the Internet's effects on the traditional print media had begun to bite.

There's also the general issue, again not restricted to the PCA, as to why Christian leaderships don't like controversy. I think I know why. A couple of years ago in a sermon, I made some thoroughly critical comments about Todd Bentley. Someone in my church took strong exception to them, which is OK, except that when they had words about it, it was with the /pastor/, not myself. My take on it is that pastors struggle to keep their churches together and unified - the process is not known for nothing as "herding cats" - and anything which rocks the boat only aggravates things.

As for the PCA: speaking from the outside, it seems to me that the PCA centre "cannot hold", and efforts to keep byFaith running are simply papering over the cracks.

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