Editor’s Note: The following is Cameron Strang’s "First Word" column from the March/April 2010 issue of RELEVANT.
This issue marks the seventh anniversary of RELEVANT. (Well, in print. Our full history actually goes back a couple years earlier online.) I’m not really one for sentimentality, but seven years is a significant milestone for an independent magazine in a rapidly changing media environment—not to mention one that straddles the very tenuous line between sacred and secular markets.
In 2003, naive and optimistic, we set out to be a voice of what God is doing in and through our generation, and it’s been amazing seeing the various ways that has played out since. Back then, it was groundbreaking (and controversial) for us to acknowledge God could actually be moving in culture, and not only inside the walls of the Church. A magazine with a Christian worldview advocating being in the world, yet not of it, or looking at the spiritual hunger and beauty in culture, was enough to get us banned from more than one conservative retail chain.
In 2003, books like Bob Briner’s Roaring Lambs were paradigm-shifting. Today, it’s a commonly held worldview that Christians should be living intentionally, even dangerously, in the world rather than merely retreating safely in the Christian ghetto. Being able to report on what God has done in our generation in the last decade has been quite the journey. We’ve seen the move to authenticity. And to social justice. And to sacrificial, outward faith. Things look very different today than they did when RELEVANT first rolled off the presses.
We’re in a remarkable time. God is moving like never before, stirring our generation to a radical, selfless faith. Greater things are in front of us than behind, and like always, RELEVANT will be there, spotlighting world-changers, asking hard questions, seeking the best way to live out our faith in an ever-changing world. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what the next seven years bring.
In the pipeline
RELEVANT has been around for seven years, but we’re far from standing still. This year, we’re launching a ton of new stuff. Here’s a preview:
* RELEVANT iPhone app
A bunch of us on staff are admitted Apple junkies. So, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our seventh anniversary than to launch a RELEVANT iPhone app. It has daily articles and news from our website, select print articles and full access to podcast archives, including live band performances and interviews. It’ll be available soon (“soon” because we have to wait for approval just like everyone else) in the iTunes app store (search “RELEVANT”), completely free.
We’ve always had a tenuous relationship with music, because on one hand it’s so influential in our lives and culture that we want to cover it in the magazine, but on the other hand, we’re not a music magazine. Music fans want more music than we can deliver in the print mag, so with our anniversary issue we’re launching RELEVANT.fm, a one-of-a-kind online music station featuring an eclectic mix of fresh, substantive music, in-studio performances & exclusive interviews. It’s streaming 24/7 right now at www.RELEVANT.fm.
* Reject Apathy coming to print
This winter we launched RejectApathy.com, an online magazine focused on whole-life issues and sustainable Christian social action. The response has been so strong that we’re bringing Reject Apathy to the print magazine in a unique way. Starting with our May issue, it’ll be a stand-alone mini-mag within the bigger issue of RELEVANT.
*RELEVANT College Guides
In January, we launched three online guides to help people find the right higher education fit and thrive while there. We’ll be publishing these undergrad, grad and seminary college guides twice a year, and starting with the next editions (late summer) they’ll be in print as well as online.
*All-New RELEVANT Podcast
We’ve been podcasting since 2005. In that time, the show has evolved from random non-sequitor nothingness, to actual content (i.e., live performances, interviews) combined with random non-sequitor nothingness. We got ourselves a producer and, well, things are getting pretty spiffy. Check out the new season available now in the iTunes store.
Yes, we’re Kindle/Nook addicts, and we’re sure we’ll be iPad addicts, too. So it should be no surprise that this year you’ll see digital versions of RELEVANT on those devices. We don’t plan on print going anywhere, but these digital formats open up a lot of multimedia possibilities, which is pretty exciting.
In February, we debuted a magazine for church leaders and innovators called Neue (pronounced “new”) focusing on the ideas shaping the future of the Church. Since we’re all affected by the direction the Church goes, Neue is our contribution to a very important conversation. Leaders, check it out.
*The rebirth of RELEVANT Books
We published more than 80 titles between 2001 and 2006, and even have a few we’re really proud of. We stepped back from books for a number of reasons, but this year RELEVANT Books is coming back—albeit looking quite different from before. Stay tuned.