By Jerry Harris
“The Times They Are A-Changin’” was the title of a 1964 Bob Dylan song addressing his belief in a need for social justice. If you were 16 when that song was released, you’re 70 years old today. In 1964, Christian Standard, The Lookout, and Standard Publishing were the gold standard for Christian education, leadership, and discipleship.
Two years later, in 1966, the little entity that started in Cleveland, Ohio, celebrated 100 years in business; by then it was a major company housed in a factory with 7 acres under roof and hundreds of employees. That was before computers, the Internet, and social media changed the landscape of communication and education forever.
Today, although print magazines have their place, podcasts, downloads, audio books, and virtual conferencing have dramatically changed the way information is shared and absorbed.
When I took over as publisher in March 2017, I recognized the need to take these two precious magazines into the 21st century. We began by addressing content and quality and released new magazine formats that July (Christian Standard) and November (The Lookout).
Over the past year, we have been working to bring this content to our movement and the world through basically the same means as were used in 1964 . . . or 1904 . . . or 1874! But all that time we have asked ourselves, Is there an outside-the-box means of expanding our readership and improving our communication?
The first step was to apply more up-to-date thinking to determine who is in our tribe in order to be more unified in communication than ever before. That idea led to our partnership with Center for Church Leadership to create an updated digital database directory of our movement, a free resource that will soon be up and running, which allows us to connect like never before.
The second, more radical step we have now undertaken is to make both Christian Standard and The Lookout available as free digital magazines to all who would subscribe! Our goal is for the magazines’ content to be read and used by as many people as possible, and to educate and strengthen our movement with the very best leadership and discipleship tools available. We believe this is the best way we can fulfill our mission to leverage the power of our unity to build the kingdom.
We wish to do this using all the tools that this age provides—not just the tools of the past. So while the print magazines will continue to be available for a modest price, they will also be available to download online absolutely free! Subscribers are free to print pages from the magazines’ online versions, and The Lookout will actually be interactive so that readers who use it in discipleship and small-group studies can write notes, prayers, and answers.
A trip to our websites (ChristianStandard.com and Lookoutmag.com) will reveal much more is also available for free. The two free magazines are there, the new database of churches and ministries will be arriving soon, plus a brand-new version of What Kind of Church Is This? will soon be posted that will include a free downloadable booklet, sermons, and sermon series media. There are plenty of other helps too.
So, you are probably wondering, How is Christian Standard Media able to do all this for free? We believe our greatly increased exposure will create a desire among advertisers to advertise on all of our platforms, and thus subsidize the costs of creating our content. Remember, we’re a not-for-profit ministry now. A new media kit is available on our website to show you how to advertise.
It’s totally possible that with our new content, our new free formats, and all of our resources, that Christian Standard Media could once again be a gold standard in Christian education, leadership, and discipleship, reaching out and touching more people than ever before! It’s true, “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” but we are changing with them, and all of us can benefit together!