The odometer on this publication has just turned to volume 30 as we begin the 30th year of publication. The first issue of Preaching was July-August 1985, and it went to about 1,200 charter subscribers, plus about 10,000 feuding Southern Baptists who were in Dallas for their largest gathering to date. If we’d known there would be 45,000 of them, we’d have printed more.
I’m sure most celebrations of the past 30 years will rank the launch of Preaching as one of the pivotal moments of the past three decades (along with the creation of ground-breaking TV shows such as “Barney & Friends” and “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults”). However, we also should recall other significant events of the past 30 years, including…
• The fall of the Berlin Wall (1989). President Reagan had told Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” He didn’t seem very responsive to the request, so the people of Berlin took care of it for him.
• The advent of the Internet (1991). Although the granddaddy of the Internet (Arpanet) dates back to the 1960s, the World Wide Web as we know it dates from 1991. Since then, it essentially has taken over our lives—but where else would you be able to find that emergency Saturday night sermon or those cute kitten pictures?
• The O.J. Simpson trial (1995). This one ranks among the significant cultural events of our generation, introducing such memorable lines as, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” As happened when Neil Armstrong first stepped onto the moon, Americans stood breathlessly by their TV screens to hear the jury’s verdict—then argue about it afterward.
• The turn of the Millennium (2000). At 18 and 14, my sons are too young to remember how we almost went crazy at the thought of our computer clocks rolling to 01/01/00. Then it happened…and we all said, “eh.”
• The Florida recount (2000). Not only did the year 2000 shake up the nation in fear that our computers all would come crashing down, but it also caused tumult when the Bush-Gore presidential election came down to pictures of overworked election officials staring at tiny holes on punch cards and inventing terms such as hanging chad.
• The creation of Facebook (2004). OK, try to imagine what you would do with all that time on your hands if not for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and all the other social media sites that consume our hours. OK, now wipe those tears from your eyes and vow to quit spending so much time on social media.
Well, there are bound to be a few other things that happened in the past 30 years, but for now we’re just going to start putting candles on the cake and begin the party—and hang on because another 30 years is just getting started!