The answer is: It’s both. But how can that be? You might argue that the Scripture says we cannot serve both God and money (Matt. 6:24). So how can you possibly treat your magazine as both a ministry and a business? Perhaps it is time to redefine the word “business.”
Because business is often associated with greed, Christians don’t want to connect their publishing ministry with business. We are not “selling” the gospel, so we should not make a profit, they say. However, the Scripture also teaches us to plan wisely (Prov. 15:22), measure the cost (Luke 14:28), and be good stewards of the talents God has given us (Matt. 25:14-28).
The business community can teach us how to better manage the resources at our disposal. Business principles including managing people, accounting, strategy, research, production, and distribution are not contrary to Scripture. When we use these tools with a heart to serve God faithfully and efficiently, we can operate Christian magazines according to business principles without hindering the ministry taking place between the pages.
Managing your magazine using business principles means you can avoid the pitfalls of trial and error. Instead of randomly trying to distribute your magazine to a new audience, you can use the principle of research to find out ahead of time if that audience is ready for your publication. Rather than hoping you have enough money to pay the printer, you can use accounting and cash flow projections to know if you will have enough funds to meet that responsibility.
Typically, Christian magazines don’t fail because of poor motivations or intentions. Most commonly, they fail due to lack of funding. Even if you have a completely volunteer staff, operate out of your home, and can somehow manage to avoid other basic expenses, the printer still must be paid. The fact is you need money to cover your expenses. Knowing what those expenses are and planning for how they will be covered does not make you greedy. It makes you a wise steward.
Does using business principles mean you don’t have faith in God? It doesn’t have to. As Believers, we seek God for wisdom in our decisions. We look at our expense reports and ask God to help us meet those obligations. If you can’t sell subscriptions, perhaps God will lead you to donors who can provide the funds you need. Or, you can sell advertisements to other Christians who would like your audience to know about their product or service. Using these tools does not mean you don’t seek God for wisdom and provision.
You wouldn’t attempt to build a building without the proper tools and the money to pay for it. Operating your magazine using business principles simply means you are using the tools available to you to be a good steward of the resources and responsibility God has given you.
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