Why exactly do we have a magazine such as Ministry? What is its value? What is it designed to accomplish?
LeRoy Edwin Froom, the first editor of Ministry, said in the magazine's 1928 inaugural editorial that it was to be "a designated medium of communication between our world group of gospel workers, a vehicle wherein counsel could be given by strong, experienced leaders, where our special problems could be discussed with frankness and profit without becoming common property and where methods of labor could be talked over apart from the full observation of our church membership."1
Focusing on each phrase of Froom's description of the designed role of Ministry leads to at least four major reasons for the existence of this magazine. 1) It has been called into being by an official assembly of ministers and thus has been given a certain representative and formal responsibility and status. That is, it is a "designated" means of communication. 2) It is a medium of global "communication" between a "world group of gospel workers." In other words, it is an "international journal for pastors" (see cover). 3) Most important, in terms of its reason for existence, according to Froom Ministry is to be a "vehicle" through which counsel maybe given by seasoned leaders, and 4) a venue through which particular "problems" and "methods of labor" can be frankly and profitably discussed in a relatively discrete setting. In one sentence Ministry is the pooling of our best thought about any topic relevant to our ministry.
Aside from these four reasons, much was said in that 1928 issue about the distinctive task of the Adventist minister the evangelistic task warning the world of impending judgment. Also, efficiency in ministry seemed to be a real concern for those who forged the charter for this journal. They clearly felt that the magazine would simply help to improve the performance of Adventist ministers.
In July 1985 the Ministry editorial staff published a mission statement. The statement was revised in 1990 and 1994, and once again in January 1996 (see page 17 for this most recent statement.)
All of this is far from merely academic. When it comes to deciding what will go into a given issue of Ministry, a holistic grasp and application of the original charter and the contemporary mission statement provides the underlying rationale.
When any potentially publishable item is evaluated, the essential practical question always is: In the light of our charter and mission, how will this benefit or contribute to the life and function of the individual Adventist minister worldwide?
There are times, for example, when a potential Ministry article causes serious, almost agonizing, editorial heart-searching. We know that for one reason or another some will be quite disturbed by a certain line of thinking in an article, but weighing all the dynamics of our mission and charter, if we still believe that the article has a bottom-line, overall value to the average pastor, we will go ahead and publish it.
An important part of our mission is Ministry's outreach. Presently the magazine is sent to about 50,000 clergy of other denominations. These ministers receive Ministry every odd numbered month of the year. This initiative is called Project Reaching Every Active Clergy Home, or PREACH.
This fine enterprise was launched during the Dower and Spangler years and is calculated to break down prejudice, provide a genuinely helpful resource to these clergy and inspire positive thought about the Adventist message among them. Alert Adventist readers will notice that their January, March, May, July, September and November issues are a little different from the others. In these issues we try to consider this large proportion of our readership while we maintain a strong and authentic Seventh-day Adventist emphasis in the journal.
A significant number of our subscribers from other denominations have been receiving Ministry for years and feel it to be a meaningful part of their life and ministry. As such they are eager to submit articles to us for publication. We obviously consider it important to include some of their articles in our PREACH issues.
We are all at different points in our thinking and believing, come from varied parts of earth, and represent every conceivable kindred, tongue, and people. But we are all made of one blood, we have been redeemed by the blood of One, possessing one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. I hope Ministry is a metaphor for both our variety and for the togetherness we manifest in Christ despite it. I believe it is more than imperative that we come to see one another in terms of our solidarity in Christ and in the Advent message, before we see ourselves in any other way. Our national, racial, tribal, linguistic, cultural, and even our theologically liberal versus conservative identities must by no means be ignored, but they must take a back seat to the glorious reality of who we truly are together in Christ.
1 Sec Froom, L. E., The Ministry, January, 1928, Our Apology and Our Authorization, 2, 31.