Scores of letters have reached the offices of the Ensign during the past four months with congratulations, criticisms, reactions to specific articles, and suggestions for improvement. Several letters have raised a thought that we believe is worth commenting upon.
We will quote from two. The first is from a member of the Church of Missouri who wrote, “I would like to order six copies of this first issue to be given or sent to friends with the suggestion that they study the content of the publication carefully and give me a candid answer as to whether or not they would like to have one mailed to them each month with no further obligation.”
The second letter came from an Episcopalian minister in New York City: “I have so enjoyed a gift subscription this past year to your wonderful magazine, the Improvement Era, that I would like to subscribe to all three of your new publications. … May I make a suggestion? I know you are taking subscriptions through your ward and branch representatives but would it be possible for your publications to include a card or advertisement on occasion to allow for individual subscriptions for your friends and neighbors who have no connection with your local representative? You might be surprised at the number of people who over the years stumble onto the magazine and might wish to subscribe.”
At the risk of sounding self-serving, there seems to be a rather obvious message here related to the Ensign. The action of the Latter-day Saint in Missouri represents an interesting twist to a fairly common custom of sending gift subscriptions. But maybe the response of our friend in New York tells us that the sending of gift subscriptions is not common enough.
What might be the potential for spreading the news of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ if just half of the subscribers to the Ensign were to send a gift subscription to a nonmember friend or relative? That could bring nearly 200,000 families into a friendly, monthly contact with the Church.
As missionary tools, there is ample evidence as to the effectiveness of the former Church magazines (Era, Instructor, and Relief Society Magazine). Not only were friends made for the Church, but testimonies of the gospel were generated through the knowledge and spirit carried by those magazines in the past.
There is every reason to believe that the Ensign can serve even more effectively in this role. Now the thought here is not to praise ourselves but simply to point out that the Lord through his prophets has directed the publication of this magazine and two others. Although they are intended basically for members of the Church, the message of truth that they contain will strike a responsive chord in the hearts of any person who is seeking enlightenment.
It is our goal and our prayer that we may provide a magazine that will furnish worthwhile and interesting reading for persons of any persuasion, but at the same time deliver a positive witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ and his church.
Your experience with the magazine over the past few months will allow you to make a personal judgment as to whether we have achieved that goal. If you can agree that we have, even in part, then you might also agree with the suggestion concerning the Ensign’s potential as a missionary tool.
Could there possibly be an easier way to reach out to those whose lives would be blessed by the gospel than through a gift subscription to the Ensign or one of the other new Church magazines? Can you calculate the possible good that might be accomplished through a single gift subscription placed in the right home?
This is not an attempt to increase circulation. We have no advertisers to please with a large circulation list. No, this is a sincere suggestion, based on past experiences and buoyed by reaction to the new magazine, that if you want to share the joy of gospel truths with others, the Ensign, the New Era, or the Friend could very well unlock a waiting heart.
Subscription information will be found on page one.