The Challenge of Christian Journalism
I am trained as a journalist. And I’m trained as a preacher. You might be surprised to learn there’s significant overlap between these callings. Both teach by distilling complicated concepts about how the world works. Both herald news, good and bad. You might not know about the overlap between these callings because journalists and preachers generally don’t like each other. Journalists rank among the most skeptical professionals. They don’t trust anyone they cover. They’ve seen enough double-talk and corruption both within and without the church to last several lifetimes. A pastor recently told me his church convenes meetings for Christian artists, bankers, and many other professionals. Despite the many media outlets in this city, few journalists ever darken the door of his church.
The mistrust is mutual. Preachers know that when they hear from a journalist, something is usually wrong. No one cares to know how many marriages have been saved, new believers baptized, children catechized, or meals served to the homeless. But journalists demand to know all the juicy details about why a group of malcontents left to start their own church. Few journalists bother to learn the intricacies of church life and theology, so when they do write about Christianity, they often bungle the details. Over and over again I have seen ministry leaders sabotage even honest, sympathetic efforts to explain their side of the story because they don’t trust the media. They think by ignoring or abusing journalists that they will prevent publication or at least secure a positive outcome. They are wrong.
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