Celebrating 500 Issues of Charisma Magazine

Celebrating 500 Issues of Charisma Magazine

Charisma magazine releases its 500th issue. Listen as founder Stephen Strang tell stories of how the magazine started, memorable interviews, and the impact the magazine has had on the Kingdom for God.

37 Minutes • 9 days ago

Episode Notes

The Strang Report

With Stephen Strang

Special: Charisma’s 500th Issue

Charisma magazine releases its 500th issue. Listen as founder Stephen Strang tell stories of how the magazine started, memorable interviews, and the impact the magazine has had on the Kingdom for God.

Introduction

Stephen Strang: Can you believe that Charisma magazine has been published 500 times? Even I was surprised when I found that out. We’re celebrating it with a special edition of the Strang Report. Hello, everyone. I'm Stephen Strang. And today in the studio with me is none other than Dr. Steve Greene, and we're going to talk about those 500 issues. So, thank you for joining me in the studio today.

 

Dr. Steve Greene: Steve, I'm so proud of you. Stephen Strang is a friend of mine. But more than that, he's the founder and CEO of Charisma Media, which is much bigger than the single issue that he founded over 43 years ago before we started. Steve, the question I think everybody wants to know is what was it like to get out that first magazine? You're a cub reporter; you can tell us a little bit about that story. You're reporting and on your first job and you had leading of the Lord to start this magazine. Tell us about how the first edition came about.

 

·         Read the Strang Report: ‘Charisma’ Celebrates 500 Issues of Igniting Readers for Spirit-Led Living

 

Stephen Strang: I feel like I've told this story so many times. In actuality, I've probably only told it a handful of times. And of course, there's many people who've never heard, but when Charisma magazine started having a little bit of success, and I started getting a few invitations to be on some Christian talk shows. The first one I was on was with Lester Summerall on a bitterly cold day in South Bend, Indiana. I was almost embarrassed because I didn't think my story was very exciting. I didn't think I had a testimony like Nicky Cruz or a lot of other people. Then I began to realize that people could identify with the fact that I had a dream and a desire and that I was seeing it fulfilled as I moved ahead step by step. There are a few principles that others have talked about, despising not the day of small beginnings. That’s one that Pat Robertson has talked about. Of course, he started off very small too. As a newspaper reporter, and that was what I was trained to do, and my first job was in secular journalism, I had a desire to write articles and things like that about what the Lord was doing. In fact, for the Orlando Sentinel. I did a story on Kathryn Kuhlman, probably the last major media article written about her before she died less than a year later. The headline said, “The Incredible Kathryn Kuhlman.” I actually rewrote the article for the second issue of Charisma. I guess I could lay him side by side and see what I did. But there are limits to what I could do at the newspaper. I talked to the leaders at our church. It was a mega church, small by today's standards of mega churches, but back in the day, it was a pretty big deal. They started some of the Jesus festivals in the area and they actually started one of the local Christian television stations later on. They were kind of entrepreneurial, and I went to them kind of honorable and asked if I could publish a little magazine. I continued to work the newspaper for a year. That first issue I think we started working on it around June 1 in 1975 with the idea that it would come out August 1. It was going to be six times a year, so that was a two-month cycle. As it was, it came out August 5. That was the day it came off the press.

 

·         Read about Kathryn Kuhlman from the second issue of Charisma.

 

The back story on it is that back in that day, that was the Jesus Movement days, and the Jesus Movement people in different cities would have what we called them Jesus newspapers. I's just a large black and white tabloid with testimonies and pictures in kind of the hippie style which was in kind of vogue at the time. I actually started publishing it for the church; somebody else had started it but it didn't amount to a whole lot. I took it over and published a couple issues and, in the process, got to know the printer and thought hey, I could do this in magazine format. There are other things that entered into the decision, but it was really kind of that simple. So, the issue came out August 5. I like to joke that we were five days late the very first time. And the second issue, we had a cover of Kathryn Kuhlman. I actually told the church that we would break even. We didn't have a whole lot of expenses, but we'd break even or I just shut the thing down in a year. That was what I agreed. At the end of the year, there was no way we covered all of our expenses, but everybody kind of liked it. It was kind of growing and actually, about that time, I quit my job the newspaper and worked on Charisma full-time.

 

I told somebody recently, they were asked me about those early days, and I said, I didn't have as much a desire to succeed as I had a desire not to fail. I did not want to fail. In different settings and with people you're mentoring in classes, and once in a while an interview like this, I'll tell people that really you have to just keep going. You have to be tenacious. They tell about how most new ventures fail. And, that is true. But a lot of times people run out of money, and then they have to stop. They'll raise money from investors or whatever. I never really had money from investors other than I guess the church was investors. But what they did was they just kept paying the bills, which were fairly small as a part of their budget. And because I think they held out hope that we would finally break even and we finally did.

 

·         Charismanews.com

·         Charismamag.com

·         Charismaleader.com

·         Podcasts: Cpnshows.com

 

Dr. Steve Greene: How many subscribers that you have that first year?

 

Stephen Strang: Well, that’s an interesting question. Somewhere early in our tenure we had to try to figure out how many subscribers. We had some method to do it, and we decided that we would settle on the number 420 Whether or not it was really 420, I don't know. But that's the number we settled on. We published 10,000 copies. We gave away a lot of copies. The issue was 50 cents a year. They could get a subscription for $3. That was six issues at 50 cents each, if you can believe it. This was before the days of the personal computer, and we didn't even do our bookkeeping on computer until probably eight years later. We kept our subscriptions in a shoe box. They were on those punch cards with the corner cut off. That's how small we started. So, somehow God breathed on it.

 

Dr. Steve Greene: How many subscribers do you have?

 

Stephen Strang: It's just south of 100,000. That was actually a goal way back then. And by God's grace, we achieved it and in times past have even been larger. The magazine industry has changed in ways I could not have imagined. Special interest magazines were going and blowing back then. We basically had three networks on TV. There was always a handful radio stations, most of them AM back then. FM was just kind of coming on board. So much has changed. The church has changed too. We don't think in terms of the Jesus movements. The Charismatic movement has changed, even though we use the term. It is vibrant and growing, even as the thing that happened that we reported on recently about The Send, they had 60,000 people at a stadium. Back in the heyday of the Charismatic movement, there used to be that many people that would get together a stadium, mainly the Catholic Charismatics. They had large churches back then. There are large churches now. There are probably more large churches; a lot of TV ministries that weren't around back then; a lot of other parachurch ministries that no one had ever heard of; a lot of ministries that were well known back in that era have kind of gone by the wayside. Often it was a generation change and the ministry didn't really survive the death of its founder. So, there's been a lot of churn, but that's also the nature of business in America. There's always coming and going.

 

Another thing I like to say to people is that when we started, there were a number of very significant magazines. In fact, one man confronted me one time … it was a little bit rude, but boy, it stuck in my memory. He said, why do we need Charisma? We've got this magazine in that magazine and another magazine. Today, all three of the magazines he named are long gone. One way you can succeedm maybe my listeners can learn from the fact that sometimes you can succeed by just not giving up and outlasting the competition.

 

Dr. Steve Greene: That brings up an interesting question What was that founding mission? I don't think it's a lot different than it is now. But you had a mission statement of vision. What was your heart back then? Why did you do it? And what do you see different today as you think about your mission?

 

Stephen Strang: You can have a vision, and you can have a reason for being without ever writing it down. Not every organization does. On the other hand, some people spent lots of time and money to write it down, and then they never pay any attention to it. As time passed, we did feel that we needed to articulate what it was. It was very similar to what we do today. But, as I referred to this earlier, as a young newspaper reporter, and I was 24 at the time, I just wanted to write articles about what the Lord was doing. A church magazine seemed a good way to do it. It wasn't like the church had this big vision to make an imprint in the publishing world or the journalism world. They just responded to my desire. So, this is what I love to do. It's what I was trained to do. I had at least a measure of talent in that area.

 

If you're passionate and you do something to serve people with a good product at a good price, something that the market actually wants, that's a very important aspect to it, almost anybody can succeed. Whether it's in a Christian publication like mine … or, if somebody is really like into bicycling, they can probably get into the bicycle shop business and make a nice living doing that. I just kind of picked that out of thin air. But there are so many things that people can do that if you have a desire to do it, you work hard, you provide a good service, and I'll repeat it again, something the market wants. A lot of people come up with some idea that's important to them, but nobody really wants it. And of course, if you go out into the marketplace, the market will tell you they don't want it. Thankfully, there was a need for a magazine like ours.

 

Over time people said we were sort of the magazine of record for the Charismatic and Pentecostal community. That was not something I wanted to do. I wanted to minister to people. As time passed, we also realized we needed a little bit of critical mass. What else could we do? So, we started other magazines. We felt there was a need for Ministry Today. Over time, we took over the publishing ministry of Christian Life magazine, which goes back to 1939. So, in some ways, our roots go back that far. We took over the publishing of Logos Journal, which most of my listeners never heard of, but it was the big charismatic magazine back in that era. But things changed and we've kind of absorbed it. Then more recently, we have published books. In fact, we've published 500 issues of Charisma and more than 2,500 books. We don't know exactly how many because they kind of come and go. Some more minor books and some were almost like print brokering that we just helped somebody out, did we really publish it or not. But I know that last time we had royalties, we had 2500 royalty statements, so that's a lot of books. Then we've also done some TV, we’re now in podcasting, we’ve published in Spanish. A lot of people don't know that. We are always trying to serve people. Also as my staff has grown, because originally it was just me and then a few volunteers and then we had a small paid staff, I've also tried to create an environment where people who are like-minded, who think what we're doing is important, who may want to be in ministry in some way, but feel a little more comfortable in the corporate environment, to make way for their own visions to grow and to develop. At one time, we grew for so many years that I think we thought that was our birthright to grow. But the publishing industry has changed enormously. When I started, there were no personal computers, none. We typed everything on manual typewriters. There weren't even word processors. The personal computer would have started as a word processor of some kind. There were computers, but they were the big computers in a big room with air conditioning, that probably didn't have the computing power of a laptop today. In fact, someone said that there's more memory in a typical iPhone than there was in the space capsule that actually went to the moon in 1969. I may be saying that wrong, but I did hear that, and it did seem to make a lot of sense. Technology is so much part of our life now that we can't even hardly think without it. There are a lot of ways that people can get information about the Lord. The You Version of the Bible is a little app with just all these resources about the Bible. Many, many ministries have web pages and TV programs, and now podcast and video podcasts and everything else. So, we're just trying to find a way of how the Lord is leading us to be able to continue to publish in these new areas. I'm just thankful that we been able to do 500 issues. In the mid-1970s, I don't know that I could have envisioned that; it would have just absolutely blown my mind.

 

For the rest of the Strang Report on Charisma’s 500th issue, please visit cpnshows.com.

 

Where to Find Stephen Strang on the Internet

·         The Strang Report on Charismamag.com

·         The Strang Report on cpnshows.com

·         On Twitter

·         On Facebook

 

Episode Notes

The Strang Report

With Stephen Strang

Special: Charisma’s 500th Issue

Charisma magazine releases its 500th issue. Listen as founder Stephen Strang tell stories of how the magazine started, memorable interviews, and the impact the magazine has had on the Kingdom for God.

Introduction

Stephen Strang: Can you believe that Charisma magazine has been published 500 times? Even I was surprised when I found that out. We’re celebrating it with a special edition of the Strang Report. Hello, everyone. I'm Stephen Strang. And today in the studio with me is none other than Dr. Steve Greene, and we're going to talk about those 500 issues. So, thank you for joining me in the studio today.

 

Dr. Steve Greene: Steve, I'm so proud of you. Stephen Strang is a friend of mine. But more than that, he's the founder and CEO of Charisma Media, which is much bigger than the single issue that he founded over 43 years ago before we started. Steve, the question I think everybody wants to know is what was it like to get out that first magazine? You're a cub reporter; you can tell us a little bit about that story. You're reporting and on your first job and you had leading of the Lord to start this magazine. Tell us about how the first edition came about.

 

·         Read the Strang Report: ‘Charisma’ Celebrates 500 Issues of Igniting Readers for Spirit-Led Living

 

Stephen Strang: I feel like I've told this story so many times. In actuality, I've probably only told it a handful of times. And of course, there's many people who've never heard, but when Charisma magazine started having a little bit of success, and I started getting a few invitations to be on some Christian talk shows. The first one I was on was with Lester Summerall on a bitterly cold day in South Bend, Indiana. I was almost embarrassed because I didn't think my story was very exciting. I didn't think I had a testimony like Nicky Cruz or a lot of other people. Then I began to realize that people could identify with the fact that I had a dream and a desire and that I was seeing it fulfilled as I moved ahead step by step. There are a few principles that others have talked about, despising not the day of small beginnings. That’s one that Pat Robertson has talked about. Of course, he started off very small too. As a newspaper reporter, and that was what I was trained to do, and my first job was in secular journalism, I had a desire to write articles and things like that about what the Lord was doing. In fact, for the Orlando Sentinel. I did a story on Kathryn Kuhlman, probably the last major media article written about her before she died less than a year later. The headline said, “The Incredible Kathryn Kuhlman.” I actually rewrote the article for the second issue of Charisma. I guess I could lay him side by side and see what I did. But there are limits to what I could do at the newspaper. I talked to the leaders at our church. It was a mega church, small by today's standards of mega churches, but back in the day, it was a pretty big deal. They started some of the Jesus festivals in the area and they actually started one of the local Christian television stations later on. They were kind of entrepreneurial, and I went to them kind of honorable and asked if I could publish a little magazine. I continued to work the newspaper for a year. That first issue I think we started working on it around June 1 in 1975 with the idea that it would come out August 1. It was going to be six times a year, so that was a two-month cycle. As it was, it came out August 5. That was the day it came off the press.

 

·         Read about Kathryn Kuhlman from the second issue of Charisma.

 

The back story on it is that back in that day, that was the Jesus Movement days, and the Jesus Movement people in different cities would have what we called them Jesus newspapers. I's just a large black and white tabloid with testimonies and pictures in kind of the hippie style which was in kind of vogue at the time. I actually started publishing it for the church; somebody else had started it but it didn't amount to a whole lot. I took it over and published a couple issues and, in the process, got to know the printer and thought hey, I could do this in magazine format. There are other things that entered into the decision, but it was really kind of that simple. So, the issue came out August 5. I like to joke that we were five days late the very first time. And the second issue, we had a cover of Kathryn Kuhlman. I actually told the church that we would break even. We didn't have a whole lot of expenses, but we'd break even or I just shut the thing down in a year. That was what I agreed. At the end of the year, there was no way we covered all of our expenses, but everybody kind of liked it. It was kind of growing and actually, about that time, I quit my job the newspaper and worked on Charisma full-time.

 

I told somebody recently, they were asked me about those early days, and I said, I didn't have as much a desire to succeed as I had a desire not to fail. I did not want to fail. In different settings and with people you're mentoring in classes, and once in a while an interview like this, I'll tell people that really you have to just keep going. You have to be tenacious. They tell about how most new ventures fail. And, that is true. But a lot of times people run out of money, and then they have to stop. They'll raise money from investors or whatever. I never really had money from investors other than I guess the church was investors. But what they did was they just kept paying the bills, which were fairly small as a part of their budget. And because I think they held out hope that we would finally break even and we finally did.

 

·         Charismanews.com

·         Charismamag.com

·         Charismaleader.com

·         Podcasts: Cpnshows.com

 

Dr. Steve Greene: How many subscribers that you have that first year?

 

Stephen Strang: Well, that’s an interesting question. Somewhere early in our tenure we had to try to figure out how many subscribers. We had some method to do it, and we decided that we would settle on the number 420 Whether or not it was really 420, I don't know. But that's the number we settled on. We published 10,000 copies. We gave away a lot of copies. The issue was 50 cents a year. They could get a subscription for $3. That was six issues at 50 cents each, if you can believe it. This was before the days of the personal computer, and we didn't even do our bookkeeping on computer until probably eight years later. We kept our subscriptions in a shoe box. They were on those punch cards with the corner cut off. That's how small we started. So, somehow God breathed on it.

 

Dr. Steve Greene: How many subscribers do you have?

 

Stephen Strang: It's just south of 100,000. That was actually a goal way back then. And by God's grace, we achieved it and in times past have even been larger. The magazine industry has changed in ways I could not have imagined. Special interest magazines were going and blowing back then. We basically had three networks on TV. There was always a handful radio stations, most of them AM back then. FM was just kind of coming on board. So much has changed. The church has changed too. We don't think in terms of the Jesus movements. The Charismatic movement has changed, even though we use the term. It is vibrant and growing, even as the thing that happened that we reported on recently about The Send, they had 60,000 people at a stadium. Back in the heyday of the Charismatic movement, there used to be that many people that would get together a stadium, mainly the Catholic Charismatics. They had large churches back then. There are large churches now. There are probably more large churches; a lot of TV ministries that weren't around back then; a lot of other parachurch ministries that no one had ever heard of; a lot of ministries that were well known back in that era have kind of gone by the wayside. Often it was a generation change and the ministry didn't really survive the death of its founder. So, there's been a lot of churn, but that's also the nature of business in America. There's always coming and going.

 

Another thing I like to say to people is that when we started, there were a number of very significant magazines. In fact, one man confronted me one time … it was a little bit rude, but boy, it stuck in my memory. He said, why do we need Charisma? We've got this magazine in that magazine and another magazine. Today, all three of the magazines he named are long gone. One way you can succeedm maybe my listeners can learn from the fact that sometimes you can succeed by just not giving up and outlasting the competition.

 

Dr. Steve Greene: That brings up an interesting question What was that founding mission? I don't think it's a lot different than it is now. But you had a mission statement of vision. What was your heart back then? Why did you do it? And what do you see different today as you think about your mission?

 

Stephen Strang: You can have a vision, and you can have a reason for being without ever writing it down. Not every organization does. On the other hand, some people spent lots of time and money to write it down, and then they never pay any attention to it. As time passed, we did feel that we needed to articulate what it was. It was very similar to what we do today. But, as I referred to this earlier, as a young newspaper reporter, and I was 24 at the time, I just wanted to write articles about what the Lord was doing. A church magazine seemed a good way to do it. It wasn't like the church had this big vision to make an imprint in the publishing world or the journalism world. They just responded to my desire. So, this is what I love to do. It's what I was trained to do. I had at least a measure of talent in that area.

 

If you're passionate and you do something to serve people with a good product at a good price, something that the market actually wants, that's a very important aspect to it, almost anybody can succeed. Whether it's in a Christian publication like mine … or, if somebody is really like into bicycling, they can probably get into the bicycle shop business and make a nice living doing that. I just kind of picked that out of thin air. But there are so many things that people can do that if you have a desire to do it, you work hard, you provide a good service, and I'll repeat it again, something the market wants. A lot of people come up with some idea that's important to them, but nobody really wants it. And of course, if you go out into the marketplace, the market will tell you they don't want it. Thankfully, there was a need for a magazine like ours.

 

Over time people said we were sort of the magazine of record for the Charismatic and Pentecostal community. That was not something I wanted to do. I wanted to minister to people. As time passed, we also realized we needed a little bit of critical mass. What else could we do? So, we started other magazines. We felt there was a need for Ministry Today. Over time, we took over the publishing ministry of Christian Life magazine, which goes back to 1939. So, in some ways, our roots go back that far. We took over the publishing of Logos Journal, which most of my listeners never heard of, but it was the big charismatic magazine back in that era. But things changed and we've kind of absorbed it. Then more recently, we have published books. In fact, we've published 500 issues of Charisma and more than 2,500 books. We don't know exactly how many because they kind of come and go. Some more minor books and some were almost like print brokering that we just helped somebody out, did we really publish it or not. But I know that last time we had royalties, we had 2500 royalty statements, so that's a lot of books. Then we've also done some TV, we’re now in podcasting, we’ve published in Spanish. A lot of people don't know that. We are always trying to serve people. Also as my staff has grown, because originally it was just me and then a few volunteers and then we had a small paid staff, I've also tried to create an environment where people who are like-minded, who think what we're doing is important, who may want to be in ministry in some way, but feel a little more comfortable in the corporate environment, to make way for their own visions to grow and to develop. At one time, we grew for so many years that I think we thought that was our birthright to grow. But the publishing industry has changed enormously. When I started, there were no personal computers, none. We typed everything on manual typewriters. There weren't even word processors. The personal computer would have started as a word processor of some kind. There were computers, but they were the big computers in a big room with air conditioning, that probably didn't have the computing power of a laptop today. In fact, someone said that there's more memory in a typical iPhone than there was in the space capsule that actually went to the moon in 1969. I may be saying that wrong, but I did hear that, and it did seem to make a lot of sense. Technology is so much part of our life now that we can't even hardly think without it. There are a lot of ways that people can get information about the Lord. The You Version of the Bible is a little app with just all these resources about the Bible. Many, many ministries have web pages and TV programs, and now podcast and video podcasts and everything else. So, we're just trying to find a way of how the Lord is leading us to be able to continue to publish in these new areas. I'm just thankful that we been able to do 500 issues. In the mid-1970s, I don't know that I could have envisioned that; it would have just absolutely blown my mind.

 

For the rest of the Strang Report on Charisma’s 500th issue, please visit cpnshows.com.

 

Where to Find Stephen Strang on the Internet

·         The Strang Report on Charismamag.com

·         The Strang Report on cpnshows.com

·         On Twitter

·         On Facebook

 

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Celebrating 500 Issues of Charisma Magazine