Our presiding bishop offers insight into what it means to be a Lutheran today in her column (page 50), a timely reflection given observance of the Reformation each October and the 500th anniversary of the historic event in 2017.

After good-naturedly casting out caricatures often used to describe Lutherans in the U.S., she concludes: “If culture and cuisine don’t define us, our theology must.” She then states the case for God’s grace and the transformational relationship it offers, binding us together and defining us as Lutherans.

This is where The Lutheran comes in, with October being a significant month for the magazine. For October is also a time when many congregations prepare their budgets for the coming year, and those budgets impact The Lutheran.

Leaders in every ELCA congregation will receive a letter this month from me asking congregations that subscribe to The Lutheran to renew and for those without a subscription plan to buy one. That letter and this column are the only means the magazine has to promote itself — there is no circulation sales team. Here’s the pitch:

Relationships are vital to the health of congregations, the entirety of the ELCA and The Lutheran. The magazine’s charge is to establish a connection with members to help them grow in faith and assist them in the mission efforts of their congregations and the larger church.

The Lutheran is where members find news and views on faith, Scripture, mission, advocacy and more. The magazine is a resource for education, outreach and evangelism while providing a forum for discussion on issues of the day.

Members of subscribing congregations know this. Their subscriptions to The Lutheran keep them informed of events and issues impacting Lutherans. They also have access online to more than 9,000 archived articles and 400 study guides, making subscription renewals a solid investment of congregational resources.

Non-subscribing congregations can learn how affordable subscription plans to The Lutheran can be when purchased in sufficient number of copies. For more information about subscriptions, call 800-328-4648, visit www.thelutheran.org or email subscriptions@augsburgfortress.org. Subscription revenue keeps the magazine’s doors open. Advertising sales help, but subscriptions drive operations.

Leaders have the ability to increase their congregation members’ knowledge of the many ministries ELCA congregations, synods and the churchwide organization support. With a subscription to The Lutheran, we can walk alongside each other as we live out the ELCA’s tagline “God’s work. Our hands.”

Here ends the marketing effort, maybe not inspiring but it’s necessary work. Thanks for your patience. I pray we deepen our relationship in 2016.

Daniel J. Lehmann

I am a lifelong Lutheran with decades of experience in secular journalism. Like many of you, I’m interested in the theological and historical roots of our faith and how that plays out in the contemporary world. I want to know what our church members and leaders are thinking, what other Lutherans are doing, how religion in general influences and is impacted by culture.
My favorite reading materials are newspapers, specialty magazines and non-fiction. I work hard, but never skip vacations in order to regroup.
I’ve been blessed with a spouse of 40 years, two children and seven grandchildren. My church is a focal point of life in Chicago. I answer my own phone, and respond to e-mail and letters (but usually not spleen-venting tirades).
And I'm a fan of the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls, as well as the Art Institute, Field Museum, the lakefront and Millennium Park. Chicago's my kind of town.

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