Preaching magazine was born in a barbecue restaurant. More than three decades ago, fresh out of a doctoral program at Florida State, I was sitting with my friend Steve King in a Tallahassee restaurant. He was minister of music at Immanuel Baptist Church, where I served as associate pastor. We began having a “What do you want to be when you grow up?” conversation, and as we brainstormed, I said, “I’d like to start a trade journal for preachers.”
While working on my Ph.D., I had worked 40 hours a week at an advertising agency, where I worked on a local trade journal for retailers. As a young minister who had been a pastor, college newspaper editor, communications director for a seminary, and had just completed a doctorate researching the history of American preaching, starting a journal for preachers seemed an interesting opportunity to combine interests and experience.
After a year of research and raising seed money from family and friends, Preaching magazine was launched during July and August 1985. We did a direct-mail package, which went to 100,000 pastors; about 3,000 sent in their $12 to become charter subscribers. (A handful of them are still with us, bless them!)
We printed an extra 9,000 copies of that first issue and carried them by U-Haul trailer to Dallas, where the largest Southern Baptist Convention in history was underway. My colleague and associate editor, Al Mohler, and I stood on the sidewalk of the convention center handing out copies. (We started inside the hall, but the convention’s business vice president chased us outside.)
An amazing group of 25 gifted preachers agreed to serve on the original Board of Contributing Editors, based on nothing more than a letter suggesting what was possible. People such as Calvin Miller, Stuart Briscoe, James Earl Massey, John Huffman and many more were critical in establishing the magazine and later the National Conference on Preaching (launched in 1989).
That’s where it all started. For years, my parents hosted the business office at their printing company in Jacksonville, while I worked at various positions in colleges and seminaries, handling editorial tasks on the side. (Some people play golf; I edit.) In 2002, I finally gave in and began working full time as a publisher-editor. Then in 2006, I sold the publication to Salem Communications, which invited me to continue as editor, even after I accepted a new role (in 2008) as a professor and dean of the College of Christian Studies at Anderson University in South Carolina.
It’s hard to imagine 30 years have flown by—how is that possible when I’m still so young? (Pardon that point of editorial privilege.) There are so many people who have played a role in the publication’s success through the years: my parents who put money and trust into a project that had no guarantees; Lydia, who ran the office for years and helped us launch the conference; Jeannette, who sold ads for us when few knew we existed. I think of so many who wrote articles, sermons and columns that guided many pastors through an era when significant changes were taking place in the pulpit and worship styles.
More recently, I think of Jim, the Salem executive who proposed buying the magazine in a Nashville Starbucks; Rick, who managed the transition and supported my transition to Anderson; and the current Salem team that makes this work possible: Mike, Shaun, Ross, Amy, Martina and so many more.
Most important, I can’t help but thank my wife, Laura, who was there from day one as I typed copy onto a Kaypro computer with a 5-inch screen. She has supported and encouraged my work and helped run lots of those early conferences. There would be no Preaching magazine without her. Thanks, also, to my sons, James and Stephen, who found their way onto a couple of early magazine covers.
However, where would it all be without you? A magazine exists for its readers, and Preaching is no exception. This work always has been dedicated to helping preachers in their work of proclaiming God’s Word. That’s been true for 30 years, and I pray it always will be the case. Thank you for being an important part of that story, and I hope you will share the next 30 years with us!
Michael Duduit is founder and executive editor of Preaching.