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By Chuck Lawless

If you’re a church leader, whether laity or clergy, I know you’re busy. I get tired just thinking about non-stop meetings, prospect visits, member ministry, lesson and sermon preparation, e-mails and phone calls, community responsibilities, reading, and dozens of other tasks – not to mention personal spiritual disciplines and family priorities.

With this much to do, who has time left to read the newspaper every day? Even when we have access to the news via the Internet, the time required for a full reading is still not insignificant.

Think about, though, these reasons for reading the news:

  1. We need to know the world God loves. Because He loves the world, we need to know that world. In today’s paper, I read of Ukraine, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, China, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Switzerland, and Myanmar. Get a map, and locate these countries. Find out what unreached people groups are there. It’s all God’s world, and He died for all. To know only our part of the world is too self-centric.
  1. Missionaries live in much of that world. Missionaries often live in volatile places. They go there under God’s call, believing and trusting we are praying for them. As you read the news, let that news drive you to prayer on behalf of missionaries in those areas. I assure you they long for it. If you suspect missionaries may not be there, ask God to open a door there.
  1. That world lives among us.  You know this reality: internationals live beside us, work with us, take classes with us, and attend church with us. They most often know the news of their countries of origin. Sometimes they have family in difficult situations. Our ignorance of those realities simply because we do not follow the news is poor pastoral leadership.
  1. Others in your church and community are reading the news every day. They may, in fact, be leaders in your church or city. Perhaps their job requires their reading the news, or maybe they just want to be informed. They can speak intelligently in many circles. When we cannot join them in the conversation because we’ve ignored the news, we limit our ministry opportunities.
  1. The news moves us outside our local Christian bubble.  Read the “local news” section of your paper, and you might learn something you need to know as a Christian leader in your community. For example, I read today that the local Muslim leadership in my city sponsored an event this weekend to share their faith with residents. I will now seek to learn more about the size of the Muslim community, and I will pray with more focus and fervor – as a result of reading the newspaper.
  1. Even evil people need prayer. I am hesitant to name names here, as all of us are sinners in need of the gospel. It’s easy, though, to read the news and label our enemies as evil. We are quick to condemn and reject those who commit sins that are not ours. Without ever compromising a call to righteous judgment, however, we are still to love our enemies and pray for them (Luke 6:27-28). Reading the news will challenge you to do so.
  1. The news provides relevant and current applications for our teaching. All who teach God’s people are continually challenged to help others see how the gospel applies to life. Entire websites are devoted to providing sermon and teaching illustrations, but those illustrations are often dated or overused. The news can provide contemporary illustrations (as in today’s feature story in my city’s paper – a story of a man who has trusted God through a horrendous illness).
  1. Reading the news will challenge you to keep learning. Consider into how many areas reading the news will take you. Politics. Geography. Economics. Business. History. Vocabulary. Sports. Weather. Religion. Media. Relationships. Arts. Advice. Vocations. Health. Medicine. Science. Language. And the list could go on. God has given us a brain to use as we do ministry, and reading the news will stretch that brain every day.
  1. We are reminded of the urgency of the gospel. The news is about life, from the weekly birth announcements to the daily death notices. It’s about people – people we minister to, people we are trying to reach, people who have never heard of Jesus. It’s about the effects of human sin, including pride in our accomplishments and depth in our wickedness. It’s about a world that needs the message of Christ.

Read your Bible first every day . . . but then read the news through gospel, Great Commission lenses. You will look at the world differently.

As a Christian leader, what other benefits do you get from reading the news?


Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

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photo credit: AhmadHashim via photopin cc

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Comments

  1. Pete Keough says

    Great points in your article. The news provides context to the world around us which allows us to ‘know’ the environment we serve in and how that environment impacts the very people we serve.

  2. says

    Keeping up with the news gives the proper perspective of the effectiveness of the church. It is an accountability measure of pastors in the pulpit, leaders in the pew, the obedience or disobedience of Christians, and the challenge that we have to affect the world with the message of Christ. Churches and Pastors tend to believe they have done well because of a good fellowship, nice sermon, or new building program. The news helps focus on the need for real ministry.

  3. Allen Calkins says

    Somebody famous from the past once said they started every day with an open Bible and an open newspaper. That sounds good to me. It is hard to be relevant if you do not know what is going on around you in your community as well as in the world.

  4. Chuck Lawless says

    Great insights, Ron. The news does help us see whether we are really making a dent in the darkness around us.

  5. says

    In a smaller community, reading the news might give you information about what your church people might be up to (hopefully good news!). In small towns, there is a likely chance that someone in your church might be mentioned somewhere. Perhaps they were involved in a ribbon cutting or have received a reward. Even the sports page can be helpful when one of your youth is cited in an article for scoring the winning basket at a local high school game. Some smaller churches even clip articles on the bulletin board citing activity in the community. Pastorally, people appreciate it when the pastor goes up to a church member citing the article in the paper and congratulating them. Negatively, sometimes bad things happen to and the pastor can offer pastoral care for the family. In one case I know, a town is involved in a controversy regarding its police chief who is a member of a church. The pastor has been able to offer encouragement as the controversy is worked through.

  6. Mark says

    Ministers sometimes forget that some of their congregants do know what is going on in the world. Ministers seem to be aloof and not care about the modern world, which is the only thing we can change. We can learn form history, but we can’t change it. Also, a few churches have begun praying for persecuted Christians as well as their persecutors every Sunday. For a long time, many people did not seem to care about persecution as long as it was not affecting them directly. Many people don’t know that martyrs are bring made quite frequently in certain parts of the world. Their names aren’t often known, but I have wondered if modern Christians even care about other Christians being martyred. For all the supposed concern about other people’s souls, why do Christians not care if their brethren are facing persecution and martyrdom? Also, on the Sunday after a tragedy, why are events like mass shootings and bombings not discussed? Why are people not asked to reach out and if someone is acting strangely, get the person some help? Perhaps Christians need a reminder on showing the love of Jesus.

  7. Chuck Lawless says

    Thanks, Mark. I agree that a burden for the world should make us want to know about the world — and vice versa. Our knowledge of the world should break us for that world.

  8. says

    I am asked every time I see church family folk about the latest news and how it impacts us. Thank Good for the internet which allows me to scan numerous sources for up to date information!

  9. Willem Els says

    I could not agree more. The Daily News lets us know Worldview and keeps us informed on changes in ethics.

  10. Zac says

    Great article. I would add we need to read and listen to news from a different perspective than our own. We need to read and watch and listen critically, but gracefully. It helps us to grow in what we believe and why we believe it and it helps remind us that those who disagree with us are people too. Al Mohler daily podcast is so helpful for me to think through the important topics of our day through the lens of the Gospel

  11. says

    Couldn’t agree more! The newspaper, whether online or in print, is perfect for the reasons you mention above. It’s much better than TV or online video news because you can scan it more quickly and focus on your interests, all while discovering new insights you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

    I heard Billy Graham say onetime, I read the bible and the newspaper each day so I will know what both sides are up to.

    Thanks Dr. Lawless!

    Nelson Searcy
    Pastor, The Journey Church
    Founder, http://www.ChurchLeaderInsights.com

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