The purpose of the Louisiana Baptist Message is to draw all Louisiana Southern Baptists closer to God and to each other. Yes, but how?
ALEXANDRIA – The purpose of the Louisiana Baptist Message is to draw all Louisiana Southern Baptists closer to God and to each other. Yes, but how?
That has been the question in Editor Kelly Bogg’s mind for more than a year. He responded proactively to the winds of change he felt swirling around the publication when he heard postal rates were going to adversely affect the Message’s bottom line.
“In July 2007, the post office implemented postal increases across the board, including a 25 percent rate increase for publications such as the Louisiana Baptist Message,” Boggs said. “Additionally, in February 2008, at a meeting of Southern Baptist state paper editors, I learned the Postal Rate Commission had given the post office the green light to increase rates on publications every year, so long as the increase wasn’t greater than the rate of inflation. That meant the Message would be facing a 3 to 5 percent postal rate increase every year for the foreseeable future.”
Options included significantly increasing the price of subscriptions, asking for additional Cooperative Program dollars every year, or cutting back on the quality of the publication.
“None of those options seemed wise or tenable,” Boggs said. “World magazine, one of the premiere Christian news publications, turned seemingly ‘on a dime’ in July 2007, and went from a weekly to a biweekly publication schedule. When I learned we’d be facing annual postal rate increases, I began to consider the possibility of the Message becoming a biweekly.
“Readers would get the same amount of information, they wouldn’t have to pay more for it and we wouldn’t have to ask for more CP dollars every year,” Boggs continued. “The Message trustees unanimously voted their support at the May 2008 board meeting for a biweekly publication schedule.”
With this issue of the Louisiana Baptist Message, the publication jumps to 24 from 12 pages, including four pages from LBC Communications and, for those churches that utilize the Church Newsletter Service, an additional four pages about and specifically for their local church. The Message is to be published every other Thursday, starting with this, the Jan. 8, 2009, issue.
First to hear the news of an anticipated publication schedule change were the churches that utilize the church newsletter service – they print their news on the back page; some the back two pages – of theMessage, and most do so each week, at significant cost savings to the churches.
“Publishing every other week was going to impact them significantly,” Boggs said. “Our staff came up with a four-page pullout at the center of the paper, which would give them at no extra cost more than enough space to communicate their news to their church members every two weeks, and they could even get it in color.”
Boggs visited with leaders from each of the churches that utilize the church newsletter service, to explain the need to go to a biweekly publication schedule, and to show the churches what they could do with a four-page pullout section of the Message.
“As a result,” Boggs said, “a significant number – about 90 percent – liked the idea and will continue using the church newsletter service.”
With their buy-in, Boggs said he was confident a biweekly publication schedule was the best option for readers of the Louisiana Baptist Message.
“In mid-July, Dr. [David] Hankins, who as executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention serves ex officio on the Baptist Message Board of Trustees, asked me how things were going in my visits with the churches,” Boggs said. “When I told him about the four-page pullout we were offering them, with color as an option, and the positive response we were receiving, he said he was interested in seeing if somehow we could deliver the LBC Live publication in a similar fashion.”
“A few weeks later, Dr. Hankins and I met with John Yeats, LBC communications director whose office produced LBC Live, and came up with a workable plan that seems to be a win-win for everyone,” Boggs continued. “As a result of that discussion, a section of the Message will feature information and promotion from LBC Communications. The end result is that we should all be saving money in light of postal rate and overall production costs, and this is good news for all Louisiana Baptists in this tough economy.”
Putting LBC Live content in the Message would be more efficient and cost-effective than the state convention continuing to produce a separate print publication, Hankins said in explaining his support for the plan.
“I believe the folks also will be pleased with the LBC Live section in the Baptist Message,” Hankins said. “Additionally, the briefer LBC Live will be delivered 26 times a year instead of four. … This is a win-win situation.”
“Synergy is the operative word,” the LBC communications director said. “The driving rationale for this change is to provide as many Louisiana Baptists with vital information in the most efficient and effective means as possible.”
“The impact of the national economic downturn demands that churches, associations, state conventions and national ministries discover new ways of partnering together,” Yeats continued. “This is a significant way LBC can work together with one of our daughter agencies to communicate the great news about Louisiana Baptists on mission with God.”
Georgia and South Carolina use a special section similar to what was developed for Louisiana, Yeats added. The Florida Baptist Witness and the Florida Baptist Convention also work synergistically together.
“This is a healthy decision for the Baptist Message,” Yeats said. “We’ve known for years that an informed Baptist makes a better Baptist. Consequently, this should push the Baptist Message viability out into at least the next decade.”
The LBC communications team’s priority has turned toward web publishing, Yeats said.
“Initially I wasn’t that enthused about the publication schedule change,” Boggs said. “I embraced it out of necessity – for financial reasons. However, now that we have made this move, I’m excited about it. I think the Baptist Message is going to be able to communicate more effectively than ever, with more items of interest to more Louisiana Baptists than ever before, and the fact we can work with the Louisiana Baptist Convention to help promote all facets of the Cooperative Program work in Louisiana is exciting!”