Rick Warren, Reader’s Digest part ways on publishing project
The Associated Press
LAKE FOREST, Calif. (AP) — A joint publishing venture between influential pastor Rick Warren and Reader’s Digest magazine has collapsed less than a year after it was announced with great fanfare.
The multimedia project, called the Purpose Driven Connection, will continue in a different form but be operated solely by Warren’s Saddleback Church in Southern California starting next spring, church officials said Wednesday.
A quarterly print magazine of the same name will publish for the last time in mid-November, and its content will move to a free, expanded Web site starting in January, Warren said in a statement.
“The positive response from readers was so overwhelming we didn’t want the content to be limited only to Americans who could afford a subscription to a magazine,” Warren said.
The announcement comes months after Reader’s Digest Association Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it faced falling print circulation and looming debt payments. The Warren project, when unveiled, was portrayed as a partnership of two powerhouses — and a way for Reader’s Digest to find new revenue. Company officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
The recession and changing reader habits have prompted cutbacks at many magazines, and some have folded.
Warren, author of the best-selling “The Purpose Driven Life,” said subscriptions to the print magazine were lagging. For $29.99 a year, subscribers received the magazine, a workbook, DVD curriculum for church small group meetings and access to special features on a Web site.
Brian Bird, managing editor of the magazine and Web site, said subscriptions were between 2,500 and 5,000 per month.
“I imagine (Reader’s Digest officials) were hoping for this to explode, and it didn’t explode,” Bird said. “But it’s had slow, steady growth. It takes a long time for anything to really grow, especially in a competitive media culture.”
Thousands of women from around the world were challenged to upgrade their faith as they face battles and see the world shaken.
"We have entered perhaps the most challenging time we have [ever] faced," said Jane Hansen Hoyt, president and CEO of Aglow International. "We are seeing the kingdoms of this world shaken. [God's] warning us to become established in the kingdom that cannot and indeed will never be shaken."
Algow's 2009 Worldwide Conference in Louisville, Ky., drew a diverse crowd of women as well as men from countries where dozens of Aglow chapters are active. The transdenominational ministry is one of the largest international women's organizations with local groups in 170 nations.
Some 200,000 men and women meet together monthly and an estimate 17 million people are ministered to annually through Aglow, Hansen Hoyt reported.
Even in Nigeria Islamic militants are coming to Christ and the church is growing, an Aglow representative said Friday. Thousands are attending Aglow conferences even in heavily Muslim areas.
"All of this is taking place in an everchanging world," Hansen Hoyt noted, as she listed globalism, the economic crisis, pandemics, the constantly changing exchange of information, terrorism, and the growing prominence of Islam as some of the factors contributing to tough times.
"All the things that [people] looked to and depended upon are like shifting sand," the Aglow president said.
But in the midst of the everchanging world and shaken worldly systems, the ministry leader told the thousands of women that God was calling them to a higher level.
"I believe we as God's people are contending for a new level of faith," she said. And she reminded the crowd that it's in the valley where the individual "upgrade" gets formed.
"When you go through hell, you must prosper because that's the point of going there," she added. "You have a spirituality that permits us to thrive, not just survive."
At the conference on Friday, Promise Keepers President Dr. Raleigh Washington announced a partnership between his men's ministry and Aglow International. Promise Keepers was relaunched this year under the new leadership of Washington and founder Bill McCartney, who had retired. Washington said the vision they received from God in relaunching the once popular men's ministry was to heal the divide, including the one between men and women.
"Promise Keepers is taking up the mantle to lead the charge. We're going to honor women all across this nation and around the globe," Washington told Aglow attendees.
This past summer, the men's ministry invited Hansen Hoyt to speak at their stadium event, which marked the first time a woman delivered a message at a Promise Keepers conference.
"If we're going to honor women, we got to make room on our platform for women," Washington said.
Hansen Hoyt was invited to join Promise Keepers at their upcoming conferences to continue to address thousands of men as they learn how to honor God's women.
The Aglow Worldwide Conference concludes Sunday.