By Bill Webb
More than likely, the church budget planning process is right around the corner for most Missouri Baptist churches. For some congregations, the process is relatively trouble-free. But for others, the task of the team or committee assigned the task is less than enviable. There is so much to do and resources may be limited.
Budget committee regulars who read Word&Way know that this space is used for an annual plea for churches to do right by their ministers and other church staff members in the areas of salary and benefits. Church members should be the most generous and caring people in the world — and that generosity and care should be evident to those who serve the church vocationally.
The purpose of this column, however, is to encourage churches through their budget process for the coming year to consider providing members a gift that helps bring out the best in members — for now and for a long time to come. Consider budgeting for every member family to receive Word&Way.
Word&Way is a good investment. It is no accident that churches that have traditionally been active in missions, evangelism and Bible study also have a long history with the Baptist newspaper that started up way back in 1896. Word&Way has stood firm in its efforts to inform and challenge readers to be active in their walk as Christians and in their relationship to Baptist work. Our readers have been among the best stewards of their time, talents and resources, too.
Word&Way is dependable as a source of news and information about the parts of Christendom that most interest Missouri Baptists. Missouri Baptist life has been our niche for 109 years. No entity hangs around that long without a proven track record of faithful service. No Baptist newspaper thrives that long without giving its constituents news and interpretation that they can rely on.
In a time in society and in Baptist life when familiar things are shifting, Missouri Baptists need a sound, encouraging source of reliable information for navigating the uncertainties around them.
Word&Way is economical. The good news is that after significant increases in the cost of doing business — newsprint and postage continue to go up — subscribing through one of our group plans is not that hard to do. We've maintained affordable subscriptions. For instance, churches with at least 10 subscribers on their list can provide Word&Way for a reduced rate of $12 per year per family. At present, that is 26 issues for the cost of one run through your favorite fast-food restaurant.
Churches that provide the newspaper for at least three-quarters of their resident families tap into our best rate — $10 per subscription. That's 26 issues for about the cost of the same number of first-class postage stamps.
Want to save some serious money? Churches that use our personalized newsletter option receive the same $10-per-member rate, but also enjoy seeing their own church newsletter on the back page of every issue. For a small fee to help cover plate-change charges from our printer, our staff takes your camera-ready page and runs with it. We handle the printing, sorting, postage and mailing, freeing the church staff of such tasks.
Churches that use the newsletter approach say it saves them considerably when they compare other approaches to preparing, printing, collating and mailing a separate newsletter. Many say they like the one-stop approach to local church, state, national and international Baptist news. We believe it's a match made in heaven, so to speak.
Very few churches could imagine eliminating Bible study material and teacher helps from the budget. And I would be the last to recommend doing so. But many of our subscribers share a similar loyalty about the value of Word&Way. They simply cannot imagine being active Missouri Baptists without our newspaper. They appreciate our sensitive handling of Baptist news and realize they must be informed Baptists to make informed decisions about all aspects of Baptist life.
If your church is not already budgeting for members to receive Word&Way, please give us serious consideration. We will do whatever we can to help your congregation get started. Feel free to call on us for information or further explanation. In fact, don't be surprised if you get a call from us asking how we can help you make it happen for your members.