A church’s best witnessing tool might cost less than $2.
That tool could be LifeWay magazines, which churches can buy in bulk for their members at less than $2 per subscription.
"More than 26,000 churches place bulk orders for HomeLife and Mature Living for their members," said Woody Parker, LifeWay’s editorial project leader for adult magazines and devotionals. "By ordering in bulk, they pay $1.55 per issue, a significant savings off the single copy cover cost. In addition, it’s convenient for the churches since they can order the magazines along with their Sunday school materials."
South Main Baptist Church in Pasadena, Texas, is one of the 26,500 churches that orders bulk subscriptions of LifeWay magazines. Each month, the magazines, available at no cost to church members, are placed in racks at the church. Members are encouraged to take the magazines, read them, use them and share them.
Pat Ford, one of LifeWay’s regional consultants, asked Brad Williamson, minister of education at South Main, if he and David Trammel, another LifeWay consultant, could talk with church members who use the magazines. Williamson enlisted 22 people to chat with Ford and Trammel, specifically about HomeLife, Mature Living, Living with Teenagers and ParentLife magazines.
"Brad was not only open to the idea, he was excited about it," Trammel said. "He gave us a room and access to his people. We were free to ask anything we wanted. What we discovered was that people use the magazines in all sorts of ways – personal edification, education, ministry tools and witnessing tools."
The interviews revealed to Trammel and Ford that most people:
- Read the magazines because they are in a public, visible location and are free.
- Notice the cover first and are drawn to a particular story listed there.
- Browse first, not necessarily reading cover-to-cover, but read the articles that grab their attention.
- Want practical articles, with information they can use, such as tips on preparing healthy recipes or talking with kids about drugs and alcohol.
- Look for magazines that are well designed, with appropriate page lengths, pleasant photos and graphics, and easy-to-read type.
"Churches that go to the effort and expense to get these magazines for their people can see a tremendous return on their ministry dollar investment," said Trammel. "People told us they use these magazines as a means of sharing Christ and the church with other people. Telling someone about an article they read or passing on the magazine is easy and non-threatening."
People at South Main who read HomeLife also tended to read Mature Living. Several of the people who mentioned this indicated they were part of the "sandwich generation" who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.
Barbara Battarbee said Mature Living has been a blessing to her. She takes the magazine to her 96-year-old mother at the assisted living facility where she lives. The magazine is then passed on to someone else who reads it and then passes it along to others. "That magazine really makes the rounds," Battarbee said.
"[Mature Living] has been helpful to me a lot of times in understanding the phases [my mother] is going through," Battarbee said. "Reading about how other people have dealt with their parents has helped me to deal with our own situation."
Battarbee’s story was just one of many inspiring stories Trammel and Ford heard during their interviews with magazine users at South Main. To read a collection of those stories, see "Sidebar: Personal accounts of magazine ministry impact." For more information about LifeWay magazines, visit LifeWay.com/magazines.