What is the mission of the Baptist Center for Ethics, better known as EthicsDaily.com, and how do we pursue that mission?
Perhaps answering these two core questions ought to be an annual exercise. Reminding our constituency of our mission and how we do it helps avoid false expectations and unrealistic demands. It helps nurture clearer understanding and encourages more constructive contributions and dynamic partnerships.
Technology has dramatically changed since 1991. But our mission has held true to its original course.
We sharpened our motto in 2002 to “challenging people of faith to advance the common good.” That’s in a thumbnail our mission.
Two passages from the prophet Jeremiah offer some biblical insight into our mission of calling people of faith to walk in a better way seeking the welfare of all.
“Stop at the crossroads and look around; ask for the ancient paths. Where is the good way? Then walk in it,” he said (Jeremiah 6:16, CEB).
Later he wrote to those in Babylonian captivity, “Build houses and settle down … cultivate gardens, get married and have children … promote the welfare of the city” (Jeremiah 29:5-7, CEB).
We can hardly advocate walking in the good way and promoting the welfare of our society if we are clanging gongs of the Democratic Party or Republican Party.
The public square is packed with faith leaders who appear more committed to political agendas than to Jesus’ agenda. The public square has more than its share of those masquerading as children of light when in fact they are not.
If we protest, we will accomplish nothing. We don’t need to march to get out our message. If we rant on the website, we forfeit opportunities for dialogue and abandon the civility we have so long advocated.
Our task is a different one. We think the best way to advance the common good is to supply congregational leaders with timely, practical, energetic resources to better understand current events and to speak with more moral clarity.
“The political arena is making it harder to lead a church, not easier,” wrote Michael Helms, pastor of First Baptist Church, Jefferson, Georgia. “Politicians on both sides are polarizing, and they find little common ground on issues. There is little decorum, common courtesy or respect for the opinion of the other side. Politics trumps the common good of almost any problem.”
Helms and others have shared that this tension seeps into church, causing discord.
We help churches bypass this discord by supplying moral education resources to congregational leaders and their congregations.
How do we do this?
We do it five days a week with news briefs and columns posted on EthicsDaily.com. We’ve sharpened our focus this year with a series of articles on human trafficking, the inauguration, Baptist World Alliance Day and now immigration. None of these pieces takes a partisan turn.
An editorial encourages readers to watch to see what will happen with the bipartisan legislation known as The BRIDGE Act. One column speaks to bills addressing human trafficking. A news brief records a bipartisan effort in Texas to end trafficking.
We produce documentaries on pressing issues. Our documentary, “Gospel Without Borders,” explores the plight of the undocumented and how churches are responding. It doesn’t advocate a legislative position or political solution. Our documentary, “Through the Door,” tells stories about how Christians are working to lower the recidivism rate and minister to those in prison. The list goes on.
We released last year two moral study guides for use in churches: Standing at the Crossroads and Walking in the Good Way. These are the meat-and-potatoes meals for every church seeking to apply their faith.
Our mission is “challenging people of faith to advance the common good.” We think the best way for us to do this is through resourcing and speaking to congregational leaders and congregations.
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. Order his new book, “The Disturbances.” It is available as either a paperback or an e-book.