What is the Church Press Today?

(photo by B.K. Dewey)

This week is the annual convention of North America’s oldest religious press association of which I am a member. I love the Associated Church Press and found it to be the most valuable conference I attended during my five years as editor of The United Methodist Newscope. Religious press associations need to note now that the church press is no longer about media going into print. Secular press is already aware of the growth in digital media and is trying to understand what that means for its aging vehicles. The church press must also come to grips with digital media and the opportunities it presents.

The United Methodist Rethink Church campaign is one example of a Christian denomination making use of digital media. Many consider the Rethink Church campaign to be more about marketing and less about the journalistic voice usually understood as being the press. However, the press has always included media outlets that espouse a point of view. Furthermore, the church press has always promoted its perspective on Christianity.

Now, online media makes it easier to share these points of view. Like producing religious tracks, distributing your ideas online is relatively easy. Unlike the tracks you may still find today, digital presses turn communication into a two-way medium. Through this blog and my Twitter and Facebook accounts, I can engage with my audience in a way that the print medium never allowed me. Anyone can participate in the conversation. We can easily cross barriers of denomination, faith and distances that is difficult within print models. This is church’s greatest opportunity yet to share the message with the world, and I look forward to see how the various religious press associations and their members take on that challenge.

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