Where We Have Been
Since 1939, the mission of the Baptist Trumpet has been to keep the people in our churches informed about what is happening in the BMA and also to inspire them to live as followers of Jesus. The foundation for this ministry was laid by former editors W.J., E.T. and Wassell Burgess, A.R. and Gordon Reddin, J.E. Cobb, C.C. Bishop, David Tidwell, Bobby Bowman and Editor Emeritus Diane Spriggs.
The legacy of these great leaders is evident in the successful growth of this ministry from its early days as a church newspaper. If you look back in the archives, you will find that the early leaders were faithful to the mission and also called on others to be ambassadors to help connect others with the ministry of the paper.
On the front page of the Jan. 17, 1951 issue of the Temple Trumpet, Editor W.J. Burgess encouraged pastors to urge their members to subscribe with an “Every family a subscriber campaign” so that each family could be informed and “be an asset to the work.” On page 1 of the June 25, 1952 issue of the Baptist Trumpet, Editor E.T. Burgess shared, “We Need Subscribers, Hundreds of ‘Em” because of the “dark days of sin and confusion.” I would say, 70 years later, that we are living in “dark days of sin and confusion” even more than then.
Through those early years, with great leadership and the people who answered the call, the subscriber base grew to be over 13,000 when I began as a freshman at Central Baptist College in the fall of 1992. There were pastors, auxiliaries and people in the churches that were actively promoting and helping connect new subscribers to the Baptist Trumpet. In the Dec. 6, 2000, issue of the Baptist Trumpet, Editor David Tidwell noted that the average circulation (subscriber base) was around 13,000 and that “every BMA family should receive the Baptist Trumpet and every church should be on the Church Plan.”
Where We Are Now
As the years went on, there were many that helped set the stage for where we are now. When I joined the team at the Trumpet in 2019, one of the first tasks I was given by Editor Emeritus Diane Spriggs was to develop a way to make the E-Trumpet interactive. In the fall of 2019, we began including the Interactive E-Trumpet along with the regular pdf in each week’s email. This allowed readers to click on each article, open them up and read it completely without the page turning and following the jumps. The photos and graphics are also clickable and open up “full-size” for the reader.
The E-Trumpet and Interactive E-Trumpet represent the development of the digital side of the Trumpet. There have been discussions with the Publications Committee over the years about the advance of digital publications and the challenges many print publications are facing. In recent years, there have been challenges due to the pandemic that have forced some print publications to close their doors completely. This highlights the importance of developing the infrastructure for what the future ministry of the Trumpet might look like.
In March of this year, with the help of Associate Editor Allan Eakin, we continued to build the digital side of the Trumpet with a new website design that now includes all the information and articles printed in the paper each week. All subscribers, whether individual or church plan members, can access this premium, subscriber-only content using their log-in credentials. If you have never created your credentials, you can find instructions by clicking on the blue log-in button at the top right of the home page at BaptistTrumpet.com.
The goal for the development of the digital side of the Trumpet is not to abandon print, but rather to enhance it and lay the groundwork for the future. As I have shared at each of the local associations and churches I have had a chance to visit, we have no plans to stop printing the Trumpet. My commitment to you is that as long as it is feasible to do so, we will continue to provide a printed paper to our subscribers.
It is important to note what may make it impossible to do so any longer. Previously, I believed the increasing cost of postage and printing would be what would make it no longer practical. I no longer believe that to be the case. While I am sure we will continue to have postage and printing cost increases in the future, what seems to really make it more difficult is the reduction in our subscriber base.
As I mentioned previously, the subscriber base of the Baptist Trumpet has been as high as 13,000. When I came on board in 2019, it was down to just over 8,000 subscribers each week. Our current subscriber base is just under 7,000 subscribers. We have lost approximately 750 subscribers in the last year alone! As the subscriber base goes down, the per-subscriber cost of producing, printing and mailing the Trumpet goes up.
Our current calculations show our per-subscriber weekly cost to be $1.05, up 15¢ from last year, primarily due to the reduction of our subscriber base. As I shared last year, our goal is to have our subscription rates, along with our regular support from churches and individuals, cover the production and post-production costs of the Trumpet. This will allow us to use the time of Special Emphasis for special projects that allow us to better fulfill our mission.
Where We Are Going
Lord willing, we plan to continue to produce a paper that will serve the BMA of Arkansas for many years to come. We are doing our best to construct the framework for a ministry that will be sustainable for the foreseeable future. Another BMA newspaper that was printing twice a month, recently reduced to only one issue per month and stated the primary reason was that they could no longer increase subscription rates enough to cover the cost of printing. We do not want that to be the case for the Trumpet.
I strongly believe a weekly paper is needed to be able to connect our readers with all that is happening in the BMA on the local, state, national and international levels. I rarely have trouble finding enough important information to fill the Trumpet each week, and most of the time it is just the opposite! This ministry of our association exists to help connect the people in our churches to the work of the BMA and it is vitally important. I believe more churches would be involved in our associational work if their people were staying connected to the different ministries by receiving the Trumpet each week.
One way we hope to strengthen our associational work is with a new bi-monthly insert that will feature the departments of the BMA of Arkansas. While you see reports and information from Central Baptist College, State Missions and Student Ministry Matters (State Youth Department) each week in the Trumpet, we are developing this new insert that will give each department space to share personal stories of how lives are being changed by their ministries. The goal of the insert is to encourage greater support of our associational work on all levels — local, state and national — by connecting to stories about real people.
Allan and I are doing our best to prepare for not only for the current ministry of the Baptist Trumpet, but also for the future ministry. As we seek to do this, we need your help. If you or your church are not currently subscribing to the Baptist Trumpet, will you do one of two things for me by sending me an email at email@example.com?
• Try it out — Send me your name, mailing address and church and simply let me know you would like to sign up for a free two-month trial — as an individual or as a church plan. I’ll set it up and would love to hear your thoughts after you begin receiving it.
• Tell me why not — This is an open invitation to simply share your reasons for not subscribing to the Trumpet. If there is something we can do better, we want to improve. If it is for some other reason, I would still love to hear from you.
If you are a subscriber, will you commit to being an ambassador for the Trumpet? If you know of someone who is not a subscriber, will you help set them up for a free trial by sending me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with their contact information?
We have so many churches and individuals that faithfully support this ministry, and I just want to say, “Thank you!” We could not continue without our regular support. Thank you for allowing me to serve you — the churches and people of the BMA of Arkansas. I look forward to seeing how God will bless our efforts as we commit to remain faithful in service to Him.