A needed needle

Is this rare person among WORLD's readers?

Issue: "Locking up the big guns," Aug. 12, 2000

The beginning of a new school year is just a few days away-which means it's a good time to remind WORLD readers that this magazine owes its very life to a host of schoolchildren. It's also a good place to tell you about an important person I am looking for.

WORLD magazine was born in 1986, five years after several of us had first launched a series of small weekly news publications for schoolchildren. The God's World News series for kids now goes each week during the school year to more than 320,000 boys and girls in all 50 states and 20 foreign countries. The papers are patterned quite frankly after the popular Weekly Reader and Scholastic publications that helped shape America's classrooms over the last couple of generations. But, like WORLD, the God's World News papers for children are distinctive because they take biblical truth and God's standards for life seriously as they discuss the week's news with their young readers. In that sense, we say to our secular counterparts, both for children and for adults: "Aren't you leaving out a critical part of the story?" (You can subscribe for children you know by calling 1-800-951-KIDS, or visit www.gwnews.com).

Indeed, it was only after hundreds of parents, reading the God's World News papers with their children during the first half of the 1980s, came back to us and asked, "Couldn't you do something like this for adults?"-only then did we take seriously the challenge of doing something like WORLD. That's why it is historically accurate to call WORLD the child of our children's papers. Nor would WORLD ever have survived its early financial challenges if it could not have shared costly editorial, administrative, and support functions with the children's publications.

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In addition, just as we were getting out of the starting gate with WORLD in 1986, we also that same year launched the God's World Book Club-a mail order children's book service for teachers in traditional classrooms, for homeschoolers, and for others who want to use the service. The genius of the God's World Book Club is the guarantee it provides all those buyers that the books they purchase have all been carefully scrutinized and evaluated by the Book Club staff before being placed in our catalogs. My reminder to that staff is constant: "Remember that we're not selling books nearly as much as we're selling trust!" Our customers appreciate that.

In a very specific way, all three divisions of God's World Publications Inc. contribute to our corporate mission: "To help men and women and boys and girls, in all sorts of settings (whether at home, at school, at church, or at work), think about all of reality with God at the center of things." Whether through news for adults, current events for children, or books for children, we've failed in our task if we haven't drawn readers closer to a sense of God's being in charge of everything that happens in this world.

Over the last year, total sales revenue for these three divisions of our company exceeded $16 million. Of that, about $6.2 million was for WORLD magazine, about $2.4 million was for the children's news papers, and about $7.6 million was for the God's World Book Club. Altogether, about 140 people work full-time or part-time for these different divisions. It's a busy but fun enterprise.

But now, Stephen Lutz, who launched the book club and then energetically led it for 14 years, has taken on new publishing assignments. We miss him-but I can't delay in looking for someone with similar gifts to lead the God's World Book Club to still new levels of achievement.

The candidate for this job will be a committed Christian with a robust biblical worldview. He or she will have a love for books both old and new, along with a lively curiosity for whatever electronic things might happen to books in the next few years. The new division manager will have good business skills and marketing instincts, with the ability to grow an $8 million business to two or three times that size and show a profit along the way. And this unusual person will have the gifts for leading and caring for other gifted people already on the book club team.

Am I looking for a needle in the haystack?

But if you think you might be that person, please get in touch with me soon. Or maybe you know someone who fits such an unusual profile.

Every time I head for our warehouse, and watch our crew there packing up an average of 600 boxes every single weekday with nearly $50 worth of good children's books in every box, I can't help thinking: "There's another evening or two at somebody's house somewhere where the TV will be off and some kids will curl up with something wonderful and edifying." There's got to be somebody among WORLD's readership with the gifts and the desire for such a challenge. ±

Joel Belz
Joel Belz

Joel, WORLD's founder, writes a regular column for the magazine and contributes commentaries for The World and Everything in It. He is also the author of Consider These Things.

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