Thinking Out Loud

April 12, 2015

Relevant Magazine and the Power of Print

Filed under: culture — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:23 am

Relevant Magazine CoverAbout a year ago my church library started stocking Relevant magazine. As no stranger to the website, relevantmag.com, and having great familiarity with the parent company (Strang Book Group) that gave birth to Relevant Media Group, I could have easily passed the print version by, but decided to borrow one, you know, just in case I missed something. Since then I’ve been borrowing each one as Paul and Elaine, our church librarians, place it in the rack.

This article isn’t about the magazine per se, but rather about the appeal of the print edition. But as to the magazine, its target audience is Millennials and people like me who want to be younger, or at least think younger; and its distinctive is that as it reviews current culture (movies, music, books, television, YouTube, etc.) the writers are not afraid to blend together two worlds that some would call ‘the sacred and the secular.’ Their writer base is diverse as are their interview subjects, and many of the differences that create division between different tribes of Christianity are seemingly absent.

Back to print editions. The internet has been very kind to me, and I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds, but on Saturday afternoon I sat down with the physical copy around 4:30 and didn’t get up much before 5:30. Okay, maybe I’m a slow reader. And there was a short phone call. But there was something about getting lost in a magazine again that was, for lack of a better word refreshing not to mention that unlike the online experience, the print edition offers no off-ramps.

Relevant Magazine CoverI post this today simply to say I hope that Relevant does not go the way of other publications which have ceased print operations. At one time, CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) was the #1 Christian periodical, and now it is simply a web-only entity as is Discipleship Journal. Fortunately, Christianity Today and Leadership Journal (the latter of which employs me as a part-time writer) are also still in print.

As someone who is engaged in book sales, I obviously have a print-bias, but when you consider Relevant’s target market, and the presuppositions about that generation preferring to do everything online, the physical edition of the magazine is something I would hate to see lost to technological and economic factors. As the announcer says, “Available on fine newsstands everywhere;” I hope.

Advertisements

November 16, 2013

Grassroots Campaign to Bring Back CCM Magazine in Print

Bring Back CCM

You would think a generation that has embraced music downloading would have no issues with eBooks and eZines, right? Not so fast. With the apparent blessing of the owners of the online publication, a Kickstarter campaign is being organized to raise funds to bring a print version of CCM back into being. The dominantly music publication was once the number one title in the Christian magazine market.

Its story began in Orange County, California as Contemporary Christian Acts, a tabloid-sized newspaper that quickly changed names to Contemporary Christian Music. At a time when Christian rock, folk, and blues music was termed “Jesus Music,” the magazine’s name became instrumental in the changing of the name of the entire genre to CCM, a term which is still widely in use. The publication was an oversize magazine before adopting the standard magazine size.

Later, it changed its own name to CCM, and later still began following other areas of Christian culture including books and fashion.  The company is owned by Salem Communications, a publicly-traded integrated media company which owns Christian radio stations in 36 U.S. markets. It’s not clear how a renewed print edition would be distributed to trade, or if it would be subscription-only. Today’s print-on-demand technology offers a host of options which were not available when the magazine changed to a web-only product.

Personal sidebar: For many years, I wrote a regular column in the magazine, CCM/Canada which provided coverage of the growth of Christian music north of the 49th Parallel. I still own a complete collection of the magazines including a copy of Contemporary Christian Acts.

August 13, 2011

Trend Toward Part-Time Church Staff Raises Other Issues

With declining attendance figures, and a tight economy, many mid-sized and smaller churches are moving toward models involving part-time or bi-vocational staff.  But what does this trend mean in terms of the training that church staff committees look for in a candidate?  Normally, in any profession, one sees a full-time position as the payoff for a four year investment in college or university courses.  While one could argue that theological study is its own reward, certainly in economic terms, it doesn’t make sense to invest those years if the resultant job is only 20-30 hours per week.  And while Christian institutions of higher learning are increasingly offering specialized courses in urban ministry, student ministry, or worship ministry; these positions are most vulnerable to reduced hours or even elimination when money isn’t there.

If post-secondary education for ministry development is peaking, what happens to an entire Christian magazine industry that has budgeted vast amounts of income from advertising to Christian colleges, universities and seminaries?  I know that may seem cynical, but those adverts in those glossy periodicals are indicative of the vast amounts that have been historically spent on recruiting students.   Most Christian colleges have been in a growth mode for several decades as prosperity has allowed more people to pursue education beyond high school.  But if the economy slows and churches are cutting back available job hours, it means these institutions could see themselves facing years of decline.

Do you know anyone in ministry who has recently had their hours cut? Or lost their job completely due to the economy and/or church attendance issues?   Continue the discussion by looking at a Canadian study at ChristianWeek.org.

 

Photos: Cross Island Chapel in Oneida, New York has turned up on this blog before, but the one in Drumheller, Alberta was new to us!

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.