Oh, what to do about ByFaith? What to do, what to do, what to do?
The question of funding for the Administrative Committee (AC) has been a hot topic among our presbyteries, our sessions, individual elders, and other interested individuals for the past few years. It’s now all-but-official that the relevant amendments proposed for the the Book of Church Order by the Cooperative Ministries Committee (CMC) will fail, so now what? We serve a God of providence, but we don’t believe that he’ll provide trees from which money grows.
One variable often brought up in this question has been the PCA’s denominational magazine, ByFaith, along with its online counterpart, byfaithonline.com. The publication of denominational magazines in the United States has a storied history, reaching back to the 19th century. Even now, in this post-everything age, the denominational magazine lives on. The United Methodists have The Interpreter. The Christian & Missionary Alliance has Alliance Life. Our Orthodox Presbyterian brethren have New Horizons, and we have ByFaith. Along with the things we usually see in denominational magazines (missions, church planting, theology, current church issues, etc), ByFaith‘s pages often include features focused on culture & the arts, social issues, and politics (and the relation of each to the Gospel and the Kingdom of God). It’s become somewhat polarizing, especially among our presbyteries and elders. For some, it’s a step in the right direction for denominational publishing, focusing not only on issues within the church and her courts, but on Kingdom effects on the wider culture. Others see it as an effort marketed only to a 25-to-40 “hipster” cache in the church, too focused on the world and overly concerned with externals, and not covering topics of interest to “the average PCA church or member.”
Recently, the Ohio Presbytery — of which my church is a member — passed an overture (borrowed from Central Indiana Presbytery) that will ask this year’s General Assembly to discontinue Administrative Committee funding for ByFaith. It appears to make good financial sense. After all, the Administrative Committee consistently experiences an annual budgetary shortfall, and the funds allocated to the publication of ByFaith — both on paper and online — occupy a comparable chunk of the AC’s budget. The overture doesn’t ask the AC to kill ByFaith, but rather to spin it off — to let it stand or fall on its own. Some see this as the beginning of the end for the magazine. Others welcome it as an opportunity. Still others would like to see it just go away.
So, is the age of the denominational magazine over? Do you and your church find ByFaith valuable, or not? Should it remain on the AC’s budget? Would it be better as an online-only publication? Does it focus, as some have said, too much on “art openings and wine & cheese parties?”
What do you think?
(Note: While the author of this post does maintain ByFaith’s Twitter account, he has no official relationship with the magazine or the Administrative Committee.)