Regular readers of The Briefing will be familiar with the ways that the publishing industry has changed over recent years. Reading habits have altered, in no small part driven by exploding digital publishing and low-cost worldwide book distribution models. Furthermore, in the almost three decades The Briefing has been running, the marketplace of ideas has also changed. There was a time not too long ago when it was hard to get access to good quality, Reformed-evangelical articles and essays of the kind that The Briefing has always published; these days there are plenty of quality articles about Christ-centred life and discipleship all over the internet, most of them available for free.
All of this has meant that we’ve had to sit down and carefully consider the realities and costs of printing a specialist, bi-monthly magazine in the present situation. And the sad answer we’ve come to is that it’s just not an economically viable proposition—in fact, it hasn’t been for some time. With some considerable wistfulness, we’ve come to the decision that the next issue of The Briefing (number 414) will have to be its last.
We’re sad about this, obviously, but not too sad—because although the medium of communication now has to change, the theology and vision of Christian life and ministry that The Briefing has always championed has not changed, and must not change. We have some exciting plans in motion to keep spreading and promoting and encouraging that Bible-based vision of Christian life and ministry—plans that take advantage of the very wave of digital publishing that has helped make the current form of The Briefing no longer viable. We’ll have more details to share in our final edition, and we’ll also be in touch with all our subscribers to outline the options for what to do with their subscriptions.
In the meantime, over these final two editions of The Briefing, we want to go back to the big ideas that we’ve exploring for the past 26 years—that Christian ministry is centred on Christ in the gospel, on the Word of God, on the power of the Spirit, and on the involvement of all God’s people in the great task of making disciples of all nations.
In this issue, the articles by Peter Orr and Archie Poulos are foundational. Peter shows us how there is a certain type of work that all Christians will do: “what believers do to advance the gospel among unbelievers and to establish believers in the gospel”. In other words, ministry of the word of God. This work of every Christian, argues Archie, has conversion at its heart, and that’s our ‘DNA’ as people of the gospel. That’s the thing that gives us our family likeness, and gets passed on from generation to generation as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus.
These articles are complemented in various ways by other pieces in this issue: Richard Chin talks about how our evangelical DNA for ministry can be compromised; Nathan Walter talks about everyday work and how we can be faithful in that too; Craig Schafer talks about how that plays out in the church he pastors.
In the end, we need more than ever to be proclaiming the gospel of Jesus to a world that needs it, equipped and encouraged for the task.