Interview with Lynn McMillon

By Brad Dupray

Lynn McMillon is the president and editor of The Christian Chronicle, a Christian newspaper that serves Churches of Christ worldwide. The Chronicle ‘s circulation includes more than 107,000 recipients and over 190,000 readers. McMillon earned a Ph.D. in religion from Baylor University and is the dean of the College of Biblical Studies at Oklahoma Christian University.   He serves as an elder at the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City He and his wife, Joy, have two married sons and four granddaughters.

How would you describe The Christian Chronicle ?

The Christian Chronicle is a 36 page, color, tabloid sized Christian newspaper that serves Churches of Christ worldwide. Its primary mission is to be a newspaper (rather than a “views paper”) organized into opinion and news sections. There is also an online edition of The Chronicle and weekly e mail news briefs.

Has the history of The Chronicle always been within the Church of Christ?

Yes. It began in 1943 as a paper devoted primarily to news of international and domestic missions and evangelistic efforts within Churches of Christ. It was privately owned by a number of men through the years but was eventually taken over by Oklahoma Christian University in 1981. Today it operates independently under its own board of trustees.

How does The Christian Chronicle compare to The CHRISTIAN STANDARD?

CHRISTIAN STANDARD , founded in 1866, is much older than The Chronicle . The STANDARD served all of the Restoration fellowship for many years before the 1906 and 1926 splits occurred.   The STANDARD is a weekly journal and has long provided news and information about Christian churches/churches of Christ and teaching articles written by members of that fellowship. The Christian Chronicle is published monthly and has a larger news section than the STANDARD and contains only two opinion pages. Our commitment to “news not views” means that we see our mission largely in terms of disseminating information and promoting cohesion and unity among Churches of Christ by providing a wide range of news and features related to this branch of the Restoration Movement.

CHRISTIAN STANDARD has always provided a theological forum for our churches.   Would you see that to be a role of The Chronicle ?

I would say that a theological forum is not our primary mission. We see our role as that of accurately reporting the news that occurs across the wide spectrum of our fellowship. We try to tell inspiring stories about men and women who are living their faith all over the world. Our monthly “Views” column offers the thinking of ministers, scholars, and others on a wide range of subjects. “Average” men and women with spiritual insights also contribute to these pages.

What editorial policies for the newspaper do you consider being of utmost importance?

First, I believe it is our responsibility to provide accurate, timely information about significant events, ideas and faith issues related to Churches of Christ. With this information, we believe leaders and members are in a better position to understand our cultural milieu and the forces motivating and shaping our churches. Second, because Churches of Christ are far more diverse than ever before, we have a responsibility to offer balanced, trustworthy coverage across a wide spectrum of our churches, which we hope will promote dialogue, cohesion and unity among the various elements.

How do you balance your desire to report the news with the passions of the Restoration Movement?

We see ourselves as a Christian newspaper within the Restoration context. Consequently, we are not just driven by the news, but rather news that resonates within the context of churches dedicated to Restoration ideals.

Do you ever find yourself saying, “This just doesn’t make us look good”?

Yes, we do.   And we often pray about the contents of our paper before, during and while we are working with a given issue.    We want to do what is best for the church.   We constantly ask if the stories we are working on are subjects others need to learn from or be warned about so that similar mistakes aren’t repeated.   Some stories that deal with tragic events within our churches occasionally cause a few people to question our motives. However, if we can get the facts, and if the event is something about which Christians need information, we feel a responsibility to tell the story, even when it is painful.   More often, we find our readers want to be informed and are appreciative of our efforts to tell the story accurately and objectively.

Why should a member of the independent Christian Church read The Chronicle ?

They should read The Chronicle if they want the best overview of what Churches of Christ are like today and a picture of the many good things they are doing in service of the Lord .

You ran a pretty major piece about the involvement of some of our preachers at the International Soul Winning Workshop.   How did that play among your readers?

As one might imagine, the response was mixed. Some loved the story and were happy to read about it, and others were not. Many more people, however, expressed gratitude for the coverage since they want to know what is happening. I hope that as people read about the efforts of many to love and understand each other that a more Christ like spirit will fill us all.

And now some of your preachers will be preaching at the North American Christian Convention. How significant do you think that will be 10 years, or even 100 years, from now?

I wish I knew. I suspect these events will be historically significant. I am praying good things will come from all of that is taking place and that we will learn to love each other more. Above all, I hope the Lord will be pleased with all of us and our attempts to love each other and so further his kingdom.

What are some of the greatest strengths of the churches of Christ?

Churches of Christ have a deep respect for scripture as the Word of God.   From that respect generally arises good preaching and meaningful Bible study. There has also long been a strong commitment to world evangelism and currently there is a new emphasis on service ministries of many kinds

Outside of the instrumental music question, what would you say is the most important issue facing the Church of Christ today (or maybe the most important issue is something that’s more pressing than the instrumental music question)?

I believe one of the greatest challenges facing our churches is the challenge of the diversity of belief and practice in our fellowship. That diversity seems to be within the larger postmodern idea that one belief is as good as another. Another challenge is the decline of small town and rural churches while urban churches continue to grow, and with that growth often comes diversity.

Once again, beyond the instrumental music question, are there concerns that churches of Christ would have about us (independent Christian churches) that we can, and should, address?

I think that there is a fear, among some members of Churches of Christ, that the present efforts to get reacquainted with each other will somehow lead to a loss of doctrinal integrity. Of course failure even to know each other promotes such concerns.

What are the most practical ways that we can see unity take shape?

In our attitudes toward one another.   Christians have always had different opinions on everything from the nature of Jesus Christ to how the Lord’s Supper should be served.   Unity depends greatly on how we are willing to handle our differences and how we handle scripture. Will we show love and respect for one another? It is not difficult to cite the many things on which we already agree. Those areas where we disagree are only as difficult as we choose to make them. Already, we see some churches cooperating in mission and relief works or even special joint worship services. Some people fear that a merger of the two churches would lead to a complete loss of biblical integrity. But the reality is that our two churches, composed of thousands of locally autonomous congregations, have no mechanism by which to merge the two fellowships, and many in both groups would not want to do that even if they could. I have been both impressed and humbled by the gracious and forbearing spirit of the several Christian Church leaders with whom I have communicated. They seem simply to desire a better relationship and association with one another. I believe I have seen a true Christ like spirit of friendship extended.


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Brad Dupray is director of public relations and advertising with Provision Ministry Group, Irvine, California.

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