NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Using magazines as an outreach tool in the community and as a ministry for the congregation is a long-standing tradition of many churches. Additionally, the idea of personalizing pages in certain magazines for individual churches is quickly catching on as a way to provide more intimate messages, said Gary Hauk, manager of the Sunday School Board’s discipleship and family development magazine department, which produces seven popular periodicals that can be used for that purpose.
Fred Lodge, pastor of Una Baptist Church, Antioch, Tenn., said he hopes to promote Una as a spiritual home for families in the community by giving away magazines that bear a personal message from him and his church.
“Home is a very important part of my life because I didn’t come from a Christian home,” Lodge said. “The church is the one who helped disciple me and encourage me, and my goal is for our church to be that kind of home.”
Consequently, Lodge has chosen to give the 1,000 customized HomeLife’s TODAY he ordered to his community (during Tuesday night visitation) and to his church members.
“I want our members to use it, read it and give it away,” he said of the magazine, which is a takeoff of the popular and long-standing periodical, HomeLife, but more geared to non-churched families.
Hauk said the customization process is being used on a small scale like Una is doing (1,000 is the minimum order) and on a giant scale — like a joint project between the Sunday School Board and the North American Mission Board.
The two agencies are planning to customize HomeLife’s TODAY with a message to Mormons and mail the periodicals directly into 140,000 homes in the Salt Lake City area just before the June 9-11 Southern Baptist Convention.
“We’re splitting the cost of this effort, and the purpose is to share the good news with folks who live in Salt Lake City,” Hauk said.
While customizing Christian magazines is a great outreach ministry, it also helps members of the church family, according to Hauk.
He said the Sunday School Board informally polled pastors on their uses of Christian magazines. The following is a list of reasons pastors gave for using periodicals in their church ministry. Magazines, they say:
— bring Christian teachings into the home.
— offer informal reading apart from organized church activities.
— offer spiritually essential reading for the home.
— apply spiritual teachings to daily living.
— are handy and within reach to all members.
— affect people’s lives directly through spiritual and practical articles.
— are one of the most effective tools for outreach to the unchurched.