NRB Media Chiefs Install Jerry Johnson as New President
The next president of the National Religious Broadcasters was installed here Saturday night in a sober ceremony at the groups 70th Annual International Christian Media Convention, reports Bill Bray, Blogger and Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service.
In a hushed and reverent atmosphere, former college president Jerry A. Johnson, 49, was tasked by directors with virtually re-inventing the NRB. It has arguably represented the most powerful Christian voice in the USA for nearly 50 years.
The charge was given by keynote speaker, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, a long-time mentor to Johnson and President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was followed by a parade of NRB Board members on video and in person, all promising prayer and support to him in the days ahead. The entire evening was steeped in courage and humility at the enormous task ahead for Johnson and the NRB.
As recording star Michael W. Smith sang “Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet” Johnson vowed afresh to defend the goals of the NRB by simultaneously advancing biblical truth, promoting media excellence and defending free speech.
He warned repeatedly against the dangers of an unbalanced emphasis on any one of the organization’s three primary purposes.
The battle for freedom of speech, press and religion will be dear to his heart, he promised. He evoked rare applause from the audience when he said, “We in NRB must become to First Amendment freedoms what the NRA is to the Second!”
He said that freedom of press, speech and religion were linked in American law and asked NRB members to help him hold the high ground legally as well as holy ground morally. “We may not the moral majority but we can and must be the prophetic minority,” he implored.
Another challenge that sparked noisy audience approval was his call for a revival in excellence and more use of new media technology.
“How many bloggers are here?” he questioned. Only a handful of the aging audience raised their hands. “Where are the bloggers, the podcasters, the 20 and 30 year olds? Many feel we need to see more young people at NRB. We’re going to do something about that.”
Few of the hundreds of young, Internet media staff missionaries who had crowded out a nearby ballroom on Friday were in the room on Saturday night. The need to include new media practitioners with traditional communicators has been ongoing buzz throughout the convention. Johnson seemed sensitive to the call for a reset in the NRB mission.
However, most of the new president’s address returned to the theme of the night: a need to proclaim biblical truth through the use of media. He criticized those who have lost touch with the Word of God in their ministries.
Using media to preach the Bible is what creates faith he argued. “Without a strong emphasis on the Word of God, no life will be changed, and let’s be honest – there’s a lot of that out there.”
“We can only speak truth to this nation and to the world if we remain faithful to the Word of God, to doctrine, to proclaiming the whole counsel of God – and we have to be willing to suffer for it,” said Johnson.
An academic for most of his career, Jerry Johnson was formerly president of the Criswell College in Dallas and Vice President at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
He was introduced to the world of Christian media at KCBI-FM in Dallas while president at Criswell College. He studied at Oxford and earned his PhD in Christian Ethics at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003.
Among the well-wishers in the room was former NRB President Frank Wright, who left the organization after 10 years to become CEO of Salem Radio Network at the end of September, 2013. Johnson was elected unanimously by the directors in their October meeting.
He has been acting as CEO of the NRB since last October and his low-keyed management style and touch are already evident in the 2014 International Christian Media Convention. The convention continues through next Tuesday night at the Gaylord Convention Center in Nashville.