Friday, September 24, 2010

About the church magazine, and a bit more...

So. The Church magazine was dead on it's feet a few years ago, before a friend picked up the editorship and managed to take it off life-support. For very good reasons, he is now wanting to concentrate on other things, and I have said that I will - in the very short term, ie between now and Christmas - take over that job.

Yet I look at the magazine and I wonder... why? Why do we keep it going?

We need to have a channel to distribute information to the congregation. Yet we already have a weekly pew-sheet and an e-mail circulation list. The number of people who actually rely on the magazine is pretty small, if any.

It's not as if there is any prospect of it becoming a general interest magazine, which non-churchgoers would be happy to peruse (which happens in a different one of my parishes, and very successfully). I can see a way of working to build up the magazine with lots of interesting articles... but why? What would be the point? There is a general interest magazine/newspaper for the Island already, and actually I think it's pretty good. More than that, I think that as a culture we are drowning in words and we really don't need any more.

In addition, the job of being a magazine editor is pretty thankless, all things considered (and I've done it before, so I know what I'm talking about). If there was a proper budgeting of the enterprise - that is, one which included the cost of the labour involved to produce it - I have no doubt that it would be shown that the magazine runs at a significant loss.

So I wonder... why? What's the point? Why don't we just let the natural processes take their course and allow that particular expression of church communication to rest in peace?

And then I think: what's the difference between church magazines and church as such?


  1. Well, the church is where you go to receive the sacrament. That's a real-world, incarnate thing, and if the church didn't exist, it would have to be invented so that people could come for the bread and the wine and the gathering.

    This is the whole point, I really do think - and more and more I think this is the very reason Christ did what he did that last supper. (You can't get Communion on Facebook....)

  2. (Also, people have pointed out to me, when I've suggested that the buildings be closed and we all meet in an empty storefront someplace, that the soup kitchen needs to be someplace, too - and then I realized that so do the literacy group, and the homeless advocacy organization, and the pews where people come to pray. There really are reasons to have buildings, as annoying as this can be. All these fleshly things need a place to exist.)

  3. Sounds as if you may already have made up your mind. Change has to happen and in the church that is often harder than elsewhere. Every Blessing

  4. Let it die and may new forms of Christian proclamation and fellowship take its place.

  5. I think we should ask congrgation if they want it still. It does bring a bit of happiness to about 100 people!

  6. The mag was not 'dead on it's feet' when I took over from the previous Editor, Martin French. He'd done a brilliant job, before deteriorating health forced him to stop.
    The Parish Mag fulfils the need to 'gossip' (which you rightly abhor) in a constructive, harmless and healthy way.
    One of the many reasons for keeping it going is we've just secured our first paid advertiser. There is scope for more advertisers, if only someone could take this on. It's not the editor's job.
    I recently went to a church open day where they had original archive magazines from the 1960's and earlier. They provide an unsurpassed window on local history and attitudes. I was amazed to see an article taking the Christian view on the Vietnam war which would stand up today if 'Afghanistan' were to replace 'Vietnam' in the article.
    Please don't let the Parish Magazine die.
    Stephen Rice (Ex-Editor, Mersea Month)


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