I remember the very first time I stepped into a TV news studio as a nine-year-old. It was at the network where my mum was a radio host. That childhood wonder intensified when the anchors invited me inside and planted a seed of passion for journalism. As I pursued this passion academically, I could only see my professional future in the mainstream media, because I didn’t see how a journalist would be professionally relevant to the Church.
Yet, God had other plans. Soon after graduation, I found myself working for the Church. That was when I started understanding that communication is not only relevant, but an essential tool for the Church to fulfil its mission.
Often overlooked, the communications department should serve as the right arm of every department that composes the Seventh-day Adventist Church, supporting and amplifying the reach of initiatives and projects run by other departments, advising on effective communication practices.
Growing up, I looked up to those news anchors who invited me into the studio—and to many more journalists. But as much as I believed—and still do—their work to be essential, with more maturity and experience in the area, I realised the important task of reporting is one that God calls all of us to do. Jesus commanded us to share the gospel—the good news—with the world (Matthew 24:14). He called us to be reporters of the kingdom.
I won’t get into the impact of storytelling. We know about the power of sharing testimonies. But what about news sharing?
In a recent issue of Record, we featured a snippet in the Making Headlines section reporting that the Brazilian Federal Senate approved a National Pathfinders’ Day—quite the accomplishment. You may feel tempted to dismiss this as due to the Christian-friendly culture. But a lot of ground work had to go in to create this wider acceptance of Adventists.
Having served the Church in Brazil as a communications officer with public relations as part of my role, I was part of the efforts to raise awareness and create a positive perception of the Adventist Church in the community. For every relevant initiative run by any department, we would write compelling press releases and always get media coverage. Pathfinders was no different. And because of that, a good portion of the population knows about Pathfinders and how helpful they are to our communities.
Even in secular countries like Australia, the power of news reporting can significantly boost the Church’s visibility. While volunteering in communications for the North New South Wales Conference a few years ago, I sent a press release about summer camps and their community benefits to a local newspaper in Stuarts Point. Soon after, the youth director shared exciting news: locals had begun reaching out, eager to learn more.
How many incredible projects do we run that don’t reach enough people because they’re not adequately reported on? As renowned journalist and author Gay Talese said, “News, if unreported, has no impact. It might as well have not happened at all.” A comment from the ‘60s is even more true today, in the information era.
We are part of this incredible movement of hope called the Seventh-day Adventist Church and we have so much to offer. Unfortunately, according to the results of the recent community perceptions study conducted by McCrindle, a Sydney-based research company, 77 per cent of Australians and 70 per cent of New Zealanders don’t know of a Seventh-day Adventist church in their area. The study also found that in both countries only one out of 10 people believe helping people is a key characteristic of the Adventist Church.
We need to do better. We need to plan and strategise before we act. We need to prioritise our communications departments and, most importantly, work together in a combined effort. Because at the end of the day we all want the same thing: to see Jesus face to face and as soon as possible.
So keep your eyes and ears open, and whenever something worth telling happens in your area, let us know. Adventist Record is here to share and amplify your stories. You can submit stories through <firstname.lastname@example.org> or via the form on our website. And if you don’t feel confident about writing, we are here to help so that no good news goes unreported.