from Ted Byfield, president of SEARCH, the Society to Explore And Record Christian History
In an era of unprecedented change in all aspects of public communication, writing skills have become obsolete, while design, images and pictures have come to the fore, right? Wrong! The reverse is true. People are reading more than ever. On monitors and tablets, viewership of text is rapidly eclipsing videos and movies.
This unexpected turn has major implications. It means that dexterity with words is once again becoming a crucial aptitude, a decisive life-time advantage to the young person who acquires it. It means that whether you aspire to nuclear physics, hockey coaching, hog breeding, or politics, a skill with words could play a key role in your success.
But it means something more. The shape of the society we are destined to live in will be largely determined by those with the greatest aptitude in the use of words. Therefore, while Christianity will, as always, need good pastors, good evangelists, and good bearers of God’s mercy, more than ever it will need men and women who are masters of verbal expression.
These people will face a continuing challenge. Christianity is under increasing pressure to abandon any role in what is called “the public square,” meaning in developing govern- mental policy or in shaping the law of the land. The attack is largely grounded on misstatements of our history. Christians will therefore need to realize how their faith produced western civilization – though far from perfect, the most compassionate, just, technologically advanced, and affluent society the world has ever known. In short, they will also need to know how to defend and advance their faith knowledgably and articulately.
SEARCH has spent a year developing a unique program, designed to produce just such people. It is primarily aimed at Christian men and women in the high school and university undergraduate years, but also for any Christian who feels the need of the two things it offers to provide — a wide compre- hension of Christian history and of western civilization, and a formidable skill with language, both under the tutorial guidance of veteran Christian writers and editors.
To find out how you can take part in this program, and, why it needs your financial support, please read the following.
The unique, even touching thing about the program described here is that it unites two generations – grandparents and grandchildren. They’re not of the same family, of course, but of the two distinct age groups, and both have one need in common. Each needs the other.
The elder group are editors. The newsrooms of metropolitan dailies these days usually display a sad spectacle—a sea of empty desks, the result of the technological changes that have overwhelmed the newspaper industry. Many book publishing houses are the same. The people who once occupied these desks are the professional craftsmen of the English language. They possess both time and a desire to pass on their skills to those willing to learn. Some are practicing Christians.
The other consists of people half a century younger. They’re to be found in high schools with overcrowded classrooms and overworked teachers, or being educated at home under the direction of their parents. Many of these students want to acquire skills in the English language. You learn to write well by writing extensively, but only if you have a good editor to guide your efforts. Their need is for editors.
Our program puts the second group under the guidance of the first. That is, we’re recruiting Christian students who want to learn to write well, and retired Christian editors to show them how.
And what will the students write about? Christian history, of course. Under our program, they are supplied, one by one, with the 12 volumes in our series, The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years. At regular intervals, a week to ten days, in response to a “think-type” question based on a chapter in the books, they are assigned to write a 300-500 word article which their editor reads and makes detailed suggestions.