Why Is this Magazine Still Alive?


Over the past decade the circulation of Alliance Life has declined from 50,000 to 12,000 subscriptions. The corresponding shortfall in income has forced signifi cant budget cuts—resulting in reduced page counts, staff cuts and fewer resources to “market” the magazine beyond its current subscriber base. The sad reality is that only about 6 percent of U.S. Alliance households receive alife. Most of the remaining 94 percent don’t even know it exists.

Economist.com reports that “in America and Europe, magazine publishers share a common lament: total circulation is either fl at or declining as people devote more time to the Internet.” Specialized Christian magazines seem to be at even greater risk. In a January 2008 statement, Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) publisher Jim Cumbee announced:

Readers tell us they want more information and want it faster than can be delivered in a monthly printed magazine. Accordingly, we will discontinue the printed version of CCM Magazine to put increased energies toward the continued growth and enhancement of our comprehensive Christian music and entertainment online network.

This is just the latest casualty in a long list of printed periodicals that have faded into oblivion with the rise of the online age. So why, you may ask, does a 126-year-old missions magazine refuse to die of natural causes? Two reasons:

(1) alife is not just another magazine. When subscription numbers declined, we were tempted to modify the recipe to satisfy changing appetites—incorporating features on Christian parenting, political activism and other issues centering on contemporary faith and society. But we realized that there are plenty of other publications that address these things with great depth and clarity—and that’s not what alife is called to be or do. In its very fi rst issue, A. B. Simpson, editor and C&MA founder, articulates the magazine’s raison d’être:

. . . we have long felt that there is room for a magazine presenting the work and progress of the whole Church, at home as well as abroad, and especially the evangelization of the neglected, with as much comprehensiveness and thoroughness as we have endeavored to give to the records of Christian missions.
—The Word, the Work and the World, January 1882

Is there still “room” for such a magazine? Until the gospel is within reach of every person on the planet, I would hope our answer to be a resounding “Yes!” Meanwhile, alife will not waver in its commitment to “[d]eclare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (1 Chron. 16:24).

(2) You are not just another reader. God has clearly called you to be a part of the work that’s closest to His heart: handdelivering the uncontainable hope of Christ to the world’s lost, lonely and hurting. alife is an essential tool to keep you informed and impassioned about how He is working in and through Alliance people to gather and reclaim His priceless human treasures in our communities and the nations. As an alife subscriber, you have accepted the invitation not merely to read about, but also to celebrate, pray, laugh, weep and partner with, a worldwide team of missionaries, pastors, church planters and other workers who have committed their lives to this task. In short, you’ve chosen to be an active participant in something much bigger than yourself, your family, your community. You are a Great Commission Christian.

Does this magazine help broaden your view of the Kingdom? Does it urge you toward deeper life in Christ? Does it spur you to greater levels of ministry involvement? If so, share the wealth! When you’ve fi nished reading this issue, prayerfully consider passing it on to someone who might appreciate the opportunity to grow in his or her understanding of God’s relentless missionary heart. Or better yet—buy friends or family members gift subscriptions. It may encourage them to get into the action.

Thank you for making alife possible by subscribing; thank you for making it meaningful by living it out.

Past Alliance Life Issues


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