April 3, 2015


For eight years now, I’ve amused—and sometimes surely irritated—the Adventist Review editorial staff with a simple parable. Now they usually just laugh and say, “Oh, that one again!”

In my parable it’s always early April, and the ice on the Niagara River separating Canada and the United States is just beginning to break up. Huge ice floes, some the size of a one-story house, are floating past us, headed for the distant din and disaster of Niagara Falls.

Our job, according to the instructions, is to move a party of 10 persons across the ice-jammed river—shore to shore—using only the frozen, shifting platforms floating by. With careful timing and a skilled eye for selecting right-sized ice shelves, it should be possible to do this task.

“Adventist Review has outlived the denominational journals of every other major faith in North America.”

Just here I usually stop and ask the question: “Now, what skills would be particularly useful for this endeavor?”

Back to me—often in a chorus—come the answers we’ve been practicing: “Agility.” “Good timing.” “The ability to help people navigate change.”

And then, trying to remember to smile, I add, “These are exactly the skills we’re going to need on this editorial team to help our readers navigate the future of this magazine.”

“We know, we know,” they smile—“Agility. Good timing. The ability to help people navigate change.”

Well, the moment for which we have been practicing is actually here—the moment in which a skilled and deeply committed editorial team tries to help thousands of Review readers make the transition from one shore to the other, from one way of reading this much-loved journal to a completely new way.

Massive changes are occurring in the world of publishing generally, and among religious publications in particular. At 166 years old (this July), Adventist Review has outlived the denominational journals of every other major faith in North America. But we aren’t immune to those changes (witness last year’s closing of print operations at the Review and Herald Publishing Association, our print partner for 160 years), or the very different audiences that we must now help to move across the river. The ice is breaking up: the platforms on which we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) are changing often—at least yearly, sometimes monthly.

It requires both willing travelers and good coaching to make this passage, to bring both this journal and its readers fully into the year 2015. Big shifts have already taken place, not least the fact that 10 times as many persons—200,000 unique visitors a month—now access the Adventist Review online, in addition to our thousands of loyal print readers. We’ve been working hard to prepare our readers of all kinds for the reimagined, new-concept monthly Adventist Review you now hold in your hands. We’re committed to making certain that wherever you find it—in print, online, on your smartphone or tablet—you find it attractive, compelling, and faithfully Adventist.

The travelers crossing the river are no longer primarily of just one age demographic. It’s our job—our mission—to bring with us thousands of young adult and young married Adventists, many of whom have been largely unacquainted with the magazine that was a staple of their parents’ or grandparents’ home. Bringing them with us means learning a new vocabulary, asking better questions—and continuing to give unabashedly Adventist answers.

We need your help—your patience, your wisdom, and your counsel—to fulfill our mission, to do this hard job well. We’re not perfect—just committed.

And we’ve developed some useful skills: Agility. Good timing. And the ability to help people navigate change.