Over the years as editor, I have come across questions from interested new readers about how to get a copy of The Banner. I have also received questions from some readers that arose out of outdated information about who receives and how people receive The Banner. There are also differences between the U.S. and Canada, in terms of distribution of the magazine. So let me address and clarify some of these questions.
Not All CRC
First of all, I want to clarify that anyone who wants The Banner can get it for free, regardless of denominational membership. In this sense, The Banner is like a ministry, akin to publications from ReFrame Ministries and Faith Alive Christian Resources. In our 2020 readers’ survey, 73.73% of respondents were Christian Reformed. But the rest were a mix of Reformed Church of America (1.43%), Presbyterian (4.55%), other denominations (7.67%), and non-denominational or no answer (12.61%). Many former CRC members who left for other denominations find The Banner a nice way to keep connected to the denomination. Others subscribe because they like our content and perspective. Therefore, not all of our readers are CRC.
Secondly, not all CRC members are currently subscribers. I want to clarify this because there is still an assumption out there that every individual CRC member, new and old, will automatically get a Banner regardless. Church memberships are held by local congregations, not the denomination. In 2005, when Synod did away with Banner subscriptions and decided every household should get a copy free, church directories were used to create the original list. Today, privacy laws, in Canada especially, prohibit churches from submitting member names and addresses to the denomination for this purpose without members expressly opting in to receive the magazine. Hence, we do not have the ability to contact every individual who recently joined a Christian Reformed church.
We also respect every individual readers’ wishes. People can stop subscribing to the print Banner at any time. Many CRC members have done so for various reasons, ranging from disagreements with the content to preferring to read entirely online or digitally. Then, there are also those these days who are just not keen in reading anything at all, preferring listening and watching as their modes of information gathering.
Church or Home
There is a huge difference between how most of our American readers receive their Banners from their Canadian counterparts. Because of the cost of sending individual magazines via Canada Post, almost all our Canadian readers receive their copies through their local Christian Reformed churches. Each local church decides how many copies of The Banner are delivered to them and who among their members get a copy. Many Christian Reformed churches in Canada would distribute copies of The Banner into their members’ church mailbox. Other churches might opt instead to place a stack of Banners on an information desk for people to pick up.
The vast majority of our U.S. readers, on the other hand, get The Banner mailed directly to their homes, like any other magazine they subscribe to. Their local church might or might not have any Banner copies displayed or distributed at all. This, coupled with the previously mentioned inability for us to reach out to new members, means that there is a growing number of new CRC members in the U.S., especially, who do not even know that The Banner exists for them, unless their local church tells them about it.
We at The Banner are trying to address this gap in various ways. For example, we are now sending monthly bulletin announcements to the U.S. churches so that new members might learn about this free magazine. But word-of-mouth promotion by our loyal readers is probably still the best way.
Get It For Free
As I have mentioned, anyone who wishes to get a copy of the print Banner can get it for free. You can sign up for a free subscription at our website: thebanner.org/signup. This is also where you can update your mailing address or, if you wish, cancel your subscription.
If you prefer a more environmentally friendly medium, we have online and digital options. On that same webpage, you can sign up instead for our weekly email newsletter that directs you to new online content. Or download our free mobile (phone/tablet) app from either Apple or Google Play stores.
The advantages of reading The Banner digitally are greater frequency and more content. Instead of waiting monthly for your Banner fix, new articles are published online four times every week. There are also more articles online than can fit into our monthly print pages, not to mention online exclusives. And some articles, especially news stories, are longer online than in print, giving you more details. Some of our readers might also appreciate the ability to easily change font sizes or zoom in when reading digitally or online.
So even if you are a print reader, you might still want to get on the digital bandwagon. Or follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook.
However you read The Banner, we truly appreciate all of our readers—print or digital, CRC or otherwise. We hope you enjoy what we have to offer.