What do Adventists read? Monte Sahlin, assistant to NAD president Al McClure, has surprising answers. Monte gathers data for the division, and his surveys show that:
- 62 percent of American Adventists state that they receive the Adventist Review on a regular basis.
- 57 percent say they get a union paper.
The startling point about these answers is that all members in the North American Division receive a union pa per mailed without cost to them either once or twice each month! Apparently for many of our people the union papers get lost in the volume of their mail.
The Review does better, even though it goes to fewer homes. Probably 90-95 percent of Adventists receive the NAD edition (the first issue each month) a few conferences aren't on the plan.
In four unions the Review comes inserted in the union paper, and some members don't recognize it as a separate publication. Nevertheless, more than 60 percent of our members identify with the Review on a regular basis.
Monte's numbers contain one other piece of important information. Independent papers such as Our Firm Foundation, Spectrum, and Adventist Today rate very low only a few percent claim they receive them. That's quite a corrective to the perception that some people have of the influence of these publications. Obviously, the fact that someone may print in large numbers does not mean large numbers of Adventists read the material.
We live in an information age. The sheer volume of material just about overwhelms us. Think of all those magazines on the racks in the bookstores and all those books. Those 500 TV channels available. Libraries accessible through CD-ROM. The cybernetic superhighway. How will the church get its message out? How can our magazines avoid being swamped by the flood of information?
In these fast-paced, fast-changing times, the good old Review is changing too. The magazine will turn 150 in a couple of years, but come Spring 1996 the Adventist Review will have a new look, a new spin, and will offer new options to subscribers.
Many of the older readers can't think of life without the Review every Sabbath. For shut-ins especially, it's their pastor. So the Review will continue as a weekly. How ever, each issue through the month will be focused in a particular way:
Week 1--the NAD Edition (the division paper)
Week 2--World Focus (emphasis on mission in North America and overseas)
Week 3--the Cutting Edge (radical discipleship in today's world)
Week 4--AnchorPoints (our heritage and message)
Every issue will be built on four foundations:
1. Spiritual food
2. The message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
4. Reader interaction
Subscribers will have an "option pack." They'll be able to subscribe to 12, 24, or 40 issues each year. Can't keep up with all the reading? Can't afford the full price? These options can open up the Review to more people.
Adventists outside North America, African-Americans, and Hispanics, and should find the new Review much more inviting. Adventist baby boomers will especially look to the Cutting Edge as an issue of high value to them.
And for Adventists who prefer to get their information via computer, the Adventist Review is working to develop an on-line edition. This will be subscriber-based and available first on CompuServe and later on Internet. The release date for the online Review will depend on staff resources and demand. Watch for the announcement, expected sometime in 1996.
What does all this mean to you and me as pastors? What can we do to encourage our people to receive the benefits of the Review!
First, we can subscribe to the Review ourselves. Money is tight for all pastoral families, but there is probably no better or responsible leadership investment that we can make than to stay current on the news and issues facing our denomination. When I'm receiving the blessings that come my way from our church's general publication, it's easy to be enthusiastic about recommending it to others.
Second, we can encourage our members to become subscribers both by promotional notices in church announcements and newsletters, but also by reference recommendation. Statements such as the following inserted in your sermons or conversations would build readership for the Review:
- "I really appreciated the explanation that our General Conference president gave in last week's Review concerning this important issue for our church."
- "I received a personal blessing from an article on this same topic in last week's Review."
When you appear knowledgeable and appreciative of the Review, your members will want access to that which has brought blessings to you! One of the most spiritually nurturing things I ever did as a pastor was to telephone each of my church members and personally ask them to subscribe to our church's official magazine.
Third, we can make certain that every new member receives the Review for at least one year and preferably for two or three through a gift subscription paid for by the church. Personally, I cannot over express my confidence in and appreciation for the stabilizing influence of the Review in the spiritual development of new members.
Fourth, we can encourage our members to provide gift subscriptions for those in the congregation who cannot afford to subscribe themselves. Here is a clear example of building up the body by mutual support.
We can at least encourage our members who do subscribe to recycle their copies to older church members whose personal finances keep them from receiving the Review now. An attractive box or display rack in the church lobby could be designed so that members could drop off or pick up current copies. With very little promotion through your bulletin or newsletter, the ministry of the Review could be multiplied in your congregation.
Fifth, we could write. As pastor of your church, write! Write a letter to the editor and express your appreciation or your concerns. Write an article for publication. You could expand the blessing of your own ministry to a wider audience by sharing the good things you give to your own members. (See sidebar sup plied by the Adventist Review editor.) Write a promotional note in your bulletin or newsletter encouraging your members to subscribe and tell them how to order the Review for their own homes.
Finally, for NAD pastors, write to your conference administrators or other church leaders and express your appreciation for the "free" NAD edition of the Review. This monthly vehicle, now 10 years old, is helping to meld the North American Division into a unified body.
We need the Review. Our members need the Review. Right now the Review needs us to help them continue providing the blessing of inspiration, current news, instruction, and discussion of vital issues to as many of our members as possible.
Writing for the Adventist Review
Article Type Description, Word Length and Editor
AnchorPoints Fundamental Beliefs for today--1 ,800 words, Johnsson
Jesus His life and teachings--1,200 words, Johnsson
Discipleship Living Christian Life--1,200 words, Johnsson
Theology Any major doctrine--1,200-1,800 words, Adams
Biblical Study Reflection on a Bible passage--1,200-1,800 words, Adams
Devotional Practical, Christian reflections--1,200 words, Adams
Current Issues Issues in church or world 1,200- 1, 800 words, Widmer
Education Encourage Christian education-1,200 words, Widmer
Opinion Your conviction on a relevant topic 600-1,200 words, Widmer
Lifestyle Personal, practical 1,100 words, Watts
Reflections Short inspirational-675 words, Watts
Turning Point A decisive moment in your life-700-1,000 words, Watts
Faith in Action Christianity in overalls 1,100 words, Chavez
Health Practical, factual-1,100 words, Chavez
Story True, personal, real-1,1 00 words, Chavez
Book Review As assigned, Rydzewski
News Report or Feature As assigned. Medley