By Jerry Harris
It’s amazing how over a century and a half of accumulated work—literally millions of words from the best and brightest minds of the Restoration Movement—can reach a point where it all hangs in the balance of one defining moment.
Doug Crozier learned of that situation—that moment—and shared it with The Solomon Foundation board in January 2017. To state it clearly, if some person or organization didn’t attempt to rescue Christian Standard and The Lookout, journals with deep and consequential roots among our churches, the failing magazines would be consigned to history. The TSF board quickly chose to step in to save these critical pieces of our identity, and I was chosen to spearhead the effort to reinvigorate them.
That decision early in 2017 and the efforts since then are why today we are celebrating the 155th anniversary of Christian Standard, a journal whose first issue on April 7, 1866, carried the obituary of Alexander Campbell, a founder of what often is called the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. (For more about the history of Christian Standard, see the article by historian Richard Cherok written on the occasion of this magazine’s 150th anniversary.)
In the months and years since TSF’s decision to rescue the magazines, Christian Standard and The Lookout have endured a constant barrage of change.
The first change involved a complete retooling of both magazines with regard to look, feel, and artistic design. At the same time, incredible effort was made to unravel the financial status and subscription database left by their previous owner. (A private equity firm had owned the magazines for more than a decade.) The magazines were incorporated into their own 501(c)3 organization—Restoration Movement Media (doing business as Christian Standard Media)—and became a not-for-profit ministry for the first time.
Unraveling the financial challenges revealed a storage facility where we uncovered Standard Publishing’s archive of historic materials and many priceless artifacts of Restoration history. These items were meticulously inventoried after being moved from Cincinnati to Quincy, Ill. A library was created to house and attractively display these items. (Researchers are welcome to use the library—located at 909 Maine St., Suite 2, in Quincy—from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For more information about visiting, please contact Allison Harris: [email protected].)
Our desire to leverage the power of our unity led to the development of CC ChurchLink, our movement’s only up-to-date digital database of churches. Creating this resource involved painstakingly sorting through multiple Restoration Movement sources to produce more than 6,500 entries of churches and parachurch ministries, complete with addresses, phone numbers, websites, and social media information. (We ask our constituents to help us keep these current.) This resource is accessible via our website and at ccchurchlink.com.
In these past few years, declining print subscriptions have led us to develop fully digital magazines that readers can access at no cost through this website. We have also bolstered our online newsgathering. Print and online advertising are helping us cover the costs of this (contact Kim Harris at [email protected] for information about advertising opportunities).
We have redesigned and redeveloped this website to incorporate all of these ministries (and more) in one location. We continue to expand a lineup of resources available for download. Our digital database of searchable Christian Standard articles is contained there, and we are continuing to push backward in time to expand that archive.
This short article merely scratches the surface of all the effort expended to accomplish these tasks and, at the same time, provide the best in content gleaned from some of the best minds and ministries in our movement. I want to thank Doug Crozier and The Solomon Foundation board, both past and present, for believing in this ministry. I thank Renee Little for her dogged determination to solve problems we’ve encountered while transitioning and growing this ministry. Thanks to Mike, Jim, Megan, Abby, Kim, Shawn, Sheryl, Allison, Tracy, and others who have been an incredible team to work with. And thank you, our readers and advertisers, for your continuing support.
Jerry Harris is publisher of Christian Standard Media and senior pastor of The Crossing, a multisite church located in three states across the Midwest.