So what exactly is The Banner?
After 143 years of uninterrupted publishing, you’d think we would have figured that out by now! But in an active church within a rapidly shifting cultural context, it’s important to ask that “dumb” question now and again.
What is The Banner? According to our masthead, it’s “The Magazine of the Christian Reformed Church.” It’s the official publication of the CRC, directly accountable to synod (the denomination’s annual leadership meeting), that comes into your home as a “member benefit.” We pray that most of you do actually find it a benefit! Thanks so much, by the way, to all of you who support this publication through your ministry share contributions and to those who again responded so generously to our one and only yearly donation request.
For decades synod has given The Banner a fourfold mandate: to inform, inspire, educate, and challenge the members of the CRC. (It’s usually that fourth part of our ministry that gets us into trouble with some of our readers.)
A number of years ago The Banner added an online presence (www.thebanner.org) that mirrors much of the content from each issue in text and audio form. A while back we added “Bob’s Blog,” allowing readers to interact with our editor. Through reader contributions it has informed, inspired, educated, and challenged many of us, especially the editor himself!
Presently the Banner staff is seriously contemplating expanding our online presence. Electrons are cheap these days. And the next generation of Banner readers expects to find us online and have opportunities to interact with our content.
It’s those fresh possibilities that make us ask whether The Banner is just a print magazine or whether it can be more than that.
We dream of having our readers provide much more content than we could ever host in the print Banner. For example, readers might someday post
- media reviews on the latest movies, television programs, books, CDs, and whatnot;
- discussion of our feature articles, including conversations with authors(s) who would value such interaction;
- links to related resources for those who want to dig deeper.
Beyond that we want to establish a presence on such sites as Facebook and Twitter to widen our reach and invite others into our conversations.
So is The Banner a print mag, and should it remain so for decades to come? We believe the answer is yes—print as a medium won’t disappear anytime soon. It makes its own unique contribution: carefully selected, crafted, edited, and illustrated fare. But The Banner could be, and should be, more.
When we began the every household Banner, we laid out the vision that it would be “the kitchen table of the CRC”—the place where we gather together for family conversations that are edifying, frank, open, fun, and that speak the truth in love.
The Web now lets us add some new leaves to our table, allowing us to expand our conversation.