Six years ago, I jumped from the newspaper industry to editing this magazine, which — you’ll discover in the fine print on the next page — is owned by the Free Methodist Church – USA. I lacked the pastoral credentials held by most of the former editors whose names you’ll also find on the next page, but I’d been Free Methodist most of my life and even married a pastor’s daughter, so I considered myself knowledgeable enough about the church to be able to do the job.
I soon realized there was much I didn’t know about the national and global churches. For example, I thought I knew about all of the largest Free Methodist congregations in the United States. In reality, it took becoming a denominational employee for me to learn about Timberlake Church in Washington and Centerpoint Church in California — both of which attract thousands of worshippers each week to multiple campuses — along with many other local churches that each attract hundreds of worshippers every Sunday. Most of these churches started within my lifetime, which explains why I never heard about them while growing up. They hadn’t been planted yet.
While missing out on the growth of these new churches in my country, I also had missed out on the explosive growth around the world. While I’d heard plenty of missionaries speak about the spread of the gospel in other nations, I didn’t realize that 13 out of every 14 Free Methodists reside outside the United States. Church planting in the United States clearly isn’t keeping up with church planting in other parts of the world. In fact, some new churches in the United States are being planted by Free Methodist immigrants whose families came to Christ through the work of missionaries from the United States. Missionary efforts have come full circle.
Light + Life debuted as The Free Methodist in 1868, but another publication, The Missionary Tidings, debuted in 1897 as the “organ of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society.” (Visit fmchr.ch/mtidings to read the first issue.) The magazine became Free Methodist World Mission People in 1995 and Pulse in 2015. Throughout the changes, founding editor Mary Weems
Chapman and her successors faithfully kept readers informed about Free Methodist missions efforts around the globe.
Pulse, however, has not had the reach of this magazine. A single issue of Pulse has only one-tenth of Light + Life’s circulation, and Pulse has appeared quarterly while this magazine publishes monthly. Meanwhile, Light + Life primarily has focused on the church within the United States, but the likes on our Facebook page reveal we are increasingly finding a global audience.
Instead of publishing a separate issue of Pulse this month, Free Methodist leaders have decided to incorporate missions articles into Light + Life on a monthly basis. Because of Light + Life’s more frequent publication, we’ll run approximately the same number of missions articles each year in English, and missions articles will now appear in Spanish too. This will dramatically increase our reach as Free Methodists continue to plant churches and “publish the tidings” (Psalm 68:11 ERV) of God’s work around the world.
Jeff Finley has served as the managing editor of Light + Life since 2011. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media. He is a volunteer in several ministries at John Wesley Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis.
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