Pessimism is in abundant supply. So, why am I bullish in 2015? Because of the work of EthicsDaily.com, which is entering its 24th year, Parham writes. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Americans are pessimistic.
Americans are pessimistic about the White House and Congress making progress addressing pressing problems. Americans are pessimistic about the future of their children's economic well-being. Americans are less optimistic about the outlook for race relations than when Obama entered office.
Americans see religion losing its influence. "And most people who say religion's influence is waning see this as a bad thing," Pew Research reports.
Pessimism is in abundant supply.
So, why am I bullish in 2015? Because of the work of EthicsDaily.com, which is entering its 24th year.
Here are seven reasons:
First is leadership, the leadership of our board of directors and staff.
We have an experienced, engaged board of directors. They are wise – pragmatic centrists, not ideologues looking to use the organization to advance their own agenda. They give financially. They readily connect the organization to their own networks. They open doors. The organization is in good hands, thanks to the board of directors.
We also have a focused staff that is collaborative and innovative. Self-starters, competent, skilled are some words to describe our staff.
Reason two is self-definition.
We know who we are and where we're going. We aren't a copycat version of another organization. We're not constantly in "self-study" knots trying to figure out why we exist and what we ought to do. We don't talk endlessly about when we get re-organized better days will be ahead.
As the old Shaker song goes, "'Tis a gift to be simple. 'Tis a gift to be free. 'Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be."
Self-definition fuels simplicity, which speeds delivery of moral resources for congregational leaders.
That, in turn, leads to reason three.
Our platform is straightforward, time-proven.
We do two things to advance the common good. First, we post fresh, substantive, relevant articles each weekday on our website that build up the church, deepen moral reflection, connect houses of faith.
We post Twitter comments and links throughout the day to inform and equip church leaders. We continue to see steady incremental growth in readership and engagement.
Second, we use video. Video includes Skype and iPhone interviews, documentaries and edited footage from global partners. We see a continual increase in readers viewing videos and using them in their churches. We have initiatives underway that will increase our global video reach.
Reason four grows out of what we've learned and done with documentaries. Good narratives are one of the best ways to shape culture.
Documentaries are tools to tell good narratives, correcting misperceptions and telling the good news about what the Christian community is doing on multiple fronts.
Given the rapid transformation of broadcast and digital TV, our decision to be a faith-content provider offers us with an unparalleled opportunity to use these many new portals to shape cultural narratives with existing documentaries.
We're on the right track at the right time. We will continue to build on our 2014 success with EthicsDaily.TV.
Reason five relates to two future documentaries.
We are researching and doing interviews for a documentary tentatively titled "Genocide 66." The documentary explores what missionaries experienced and did in the face of horrific atrocities in Jos, Nigeria, in 1966.
This dramatic story has unexpected twists of tragedy and redemption. It is a powerful example of human beings working for the good amid systemic evil – and the human capacity to triumph over horrible events. It represents the best of what missionaries do under the most trying of circumstances.
"Genocide 66" will deepen moral reflection about genocide – and the need for Christians to be "watchmen on the gates." It will be a mission education resource that every church will want to use.
The second documentary is a perfect one for EthicsDaily.com being located in Nashville, Tennessee, known as "Music City USA." It's a documentary on how music shapes culture, culture shapes music, the church shapes music and church music shapes culture.
It explores contemporary Christian music and the church worship issues arising from conflict over the praise-and-worship movement. It will help churches to probe a critical truth – what we sing is what we believe.
Reason six is partnerships.
Last year may have been one of our best years in forging partnerships. We stepped up our connectivity with Baptists in Britain, Liberia, Lebanon – to mention a few countries.
We increased our interaction with goodwill leaders in other houses of faith. We had successful documentary screenings with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina and experienced more collaboration with Texas Baptists. These types of partnerships will flourish even more in 2015.
Reason seven is global connectivity.
One exciting plan is what we will do at the Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa, in July. We will be screening three of our documentaries – "Beneath the Skin," "Gospel Without Borders" and "Through the Door."
In partnership with ChurchNet and Texas Baptists, we will enlist global panelists to respond to these documentary issues of race, immigration and incarceration, each from the perspective of their own country or region.
Moral reflection and practical discussion will enrich and equip global Baptists to address these pressing issues.
So, I'm bullish on EthicsDaily.com in 2015.
If you are, tell your friends to bookmark EthicsDaily.com as a favorite site, follow us on Twitter, follow our Pinterest page, like us on Facebook, follow our Vimeo page, order our moral resources.
Let us press forward together for the common good!
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.