April 11, 2022
In my most recent member letter, I wrote that it was my last letter prior to the Passover. But today I have such good news to share that I have chosen to write to you once again! Because of the increase in our annual income for the past two fiscal years and now continuing into the third year, we are ready to make a major investment in preaching the gospel.
Last year our increase in income made it possible for us to pay off two mortgages (one in East Texas and the second here in McKinney), thereby saving the Church approximately $230,000 per year. Our 2022 fiscal budget contained a substantial increase—some 30 percent—for Media to preach the gospel. But we weren’t ready in January to decide where those funds should go. We needed a plan, and after several weeks of meetings and many hours of discussion, Clyde Kilough, operation manager for Media, and the Media department have come forward with a series of proposals for investing these additional funds in our public proclamation efforts, beginning immediately.
My purpose for writing another letter prior to the Passover is to share the details of our updated Media plan with all of you. This plan will require some new hires in Media, and locating the right people will take time. But the other items will begin right away (some have actually already been implemented). Attached to this letter is a report from Mr. Kilough giving an overview of what we have planned. I hope you will be as excited as we are when you read the details.
Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20 describe our mission to take the gospel message, the good news of the Kingdom of God, to a troubled world. In furthering that mission, the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, has made the commitment to advance the preaching of the gospel this fiscal year (2022) by more than 30 percent when compared to last year!
Please be assured that our focus on Media will not distract us from the second part of our mission—caring for the brethren. We have created a new educational program for pastors, we’re restarting the International Leadership Program in May and through our International Fund we are taking care of the congregational needs of brethren around the world. We are committed to preaching the gospel and caring for the brethren and doing both to the best of our ability with the resources that God has provided. We now have the resources to do more in one year than we have done in a decade.
I believe you will agree with me that it is great to have some good news for a change. Trials, suffering, wars and rumors of wars surround us, but they cannot defeat us. Please have a meaningful and inspiring Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, focusing, once again, on God’s plan of salvation—the creation of His family.
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,
Upon learning of the financial boost to our department, a Media team met a number of times to brainstorm the needs and possibilities in three areas: video, editorial and engagement. From an initial list of about 25 projects—far more than what we could possibly do—we narrowed it down to the top 10 priority needs and what is actually manageable with our personnel and budget.
Some of these projects are going to be new, major, highly visible steps for the Church—more on these in a moment. Others are projects unseen by most people, but very important to the work.
1. Engagement. One of our greatest needs is to develop ongoing relationships with our visitors, engaging and encouraging them to use Life, Hope & Truth more thoroughly and frequently. Every month we gain several thousand new leads (those who download materials or subscribe to publications). These leads are very important because they have demonstrated more than casual interest, and they’re likely more interested in receiving other material. We need to reach back to them, which we can do by implementing workflows (a series of automatically triggered emails sent at regular intervals to offer related material) and email campaigns. While cost-effective, it’s labor-intensive and dependent on having personnel dedicated to the tasks.
Another engagement tool we can easily implement is a regular coworker letter from the president, and these will start soon. Our growing number of coworkers are valued members of the Church’s efforts to preach the gospel, and we want them to feel involved and know that their contributions are highly appreciated.
2. Editorial. We’re targeting several major projects in editorial content development. Discern is one of our highest quality products, covering a wide variety of doctrine, prophecy and Christian living subjects. People need Discern, and we want to see greater numbers accessing both the digital and the print versions, so we’re going to increase promotional efforts through investing in advertising and through email and social media campaigns. And, in order to give subscribers more frequent exposure to Discern, we sent out our first online bonus edition in early March. The bonus edition will be sent in the alternating months when we don’t have a print version, so every month subscribers will get either a print or digital Discern.
Life, Hope & Truth currently offers a vast array of content—literally thousands of blogs and articles!—educating people about God’s truth. But many people face a big challenge today in that while they want to follow God, they struggle with serious issues that hold them back. We see a need to help people understand and deal with such issues from a spiritual perspective, so addressing relevant social topics, such as sexuality, addiction and emotional problems, is going to be an area of increased focus.
We are also expanding and developing new blogging strategies to have more consistent writing on topics that are SEO (search engine optimization) driven. This will require a wider pool of skilled writers with different writing styles and expertise, assigning topics for new content rather than relying on volunteer submissions, and also updating and refreshing old content (both blogs and articles).
All of these editorial projects require skilled personnel, and I’m very happy to announce that we have just hired another full-time writer, which will help us immensely.
3. Video. Now—in what will be the biggest steps forward in Media since Life, Hope & Truth was launched—we are going to create a regular LHT program, a regular LHT podcast, and ramp up the assembly of video “shorts.”
As mentioned earlier, LHT is incredibly strong in written content—it provides excellent teaching and witnessing of the gospel through the written word. But we have lacked the same depth of preaching—ministers personally delivering the gospel through strong “evangelizing” on a regular full-length program. We need voices to give the gospel the type of power that can come only through the spoken word. Furthermore, increasing video production will not only bolster LHT’s rankings, but it can be placed on many other video outlets. YouTube, for example, is the second largest search engine in the world, and we need to be available on that—and all other venues possible—in video form.
Podcasts are already extremely popular and are increasingly gathering larger audiences. They reach people on the go, and young people especially really use them. This is another avenue for preaching the gospel through social media outlets, as well as on LHT.
And, while we already have several dozen video “shorts” (3- to 6-minute videos that accompany LHT articles and are posted on the Church’s YouTube channel), we could produce literally hundreds more. These offer quick explanations of various biblical topics—difficult to understand scriptures, biblical terms and definitions, etc.—specific issues people are asking about.
Steadily churning out such new videos will require a lot of planning and hiring several new employees, not only in the areas of technical production but also for presentation. We can only be strong in production if we have more people dedicated to it, both as writers and presenters. Some big decisions lie ahead. How will we determine who, and how many, would be well-suited for presenting the gospel through video? What are the best formats for programs and podcasts? How can we most effectively promote and place these programs? Can the same presenters for video also do the podcasts? What about production for other video formats, such as TikTok?
This is only the briefest overview of the projects at hand. Even with hiring new staff in several positions, these undertakings are ambitious, and they won’t happen overnight. For example, while we have some prospective employees in video, they may not be available immediately. And it will take a while to put the programs together and have the right presenters selected and in place. But it will come!
It is exciting to be laying the groundwork for these major steps forward in preaching the gospel. And we are confident that, just as God has opened the doors financially, He will also provide the personnel and guide our plans. We have a dedicated team here at the office, and we know God’s people will be fully behind our efforts with their prayers and support.