A New Word

October 19, 2004
Look on the magazine racks of any superstore and chances are you'll find two relatively new publications geared toward teenagers -- Refuel for boys and Revolve for girls.
They might sound and look like the latest fashion magazines, but they're not. They're repackaged versions of the New Testament, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and marketed to junior high and high school students.
The glossy, four-color magazines, called "Biblezines," include the New Testament presented in the New Century Version translation, with some extras you won't find in your grandparents' black, leather-bound King James -- beauty tips, relationship articles and question-and-answer sections titled "Guys (or Girls) Speak Out!"
Another newly released Biblezine, Becoming, targets adult women and a second version of Revolve includes Psalms and Proverbs.
The top reason teens say they don't read the Bible is that it is "too big and freaky looking." That's according to a survey by Transit Books available on the Thomas Nelson Publishers Web site -- http://thomasnelson.com. Refuel and Revolve intend to overcome that objection.
Steve Pulley, minister of youth at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco, says that the Biblezines are a great tool to reach kids. "I think people are taking seriously what Paul said, 'be all things to all people,' to meet people where they are," he says. He sees two positive aims of the magazines -- to reach non-Christians who wouldn't otherwise pick up a Bible and to help youth who have been Christians or in the church for a long time and need a fresh way to approach the Scriptures.
The new choices seem to be well received. Michael Evans, manager of the Compass Christian Lifestyle Superstore in Waco, says that during one six-month period, the store sold 130 copies of the two magazines combined.
But not everyone thinks the magazines are a wise choice. "I'm of two minds about Biblezines," says Todd Still, associate professor of Christian Scriptures at Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. "On the one hand, I'm supportive of initiatives that seek to appose students to the Scriptures. On the other hand, I find myself concerned that such marketing makeovers trivialize the timeless and dumb down the profound," he says.
Still recommends that parents consult with teachers or pastors when helping youth choose which version of the Scriptures to use. "A student might need one Bible that is readable and one that is more appropriate for purposes of study," he says.
Greg Garrett, professor of English at Baylor and a divinity student at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, supports the idea of presenting Scriptures in more accessible venues. He and Baylor alumnus Chris Seay, pastor of a progressive Christian community called Ecclesia in Houston, last year co-authored The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in the Matrix. The two signed a contract with Thomas Nelson/World Publishing in the fall to be lead writers and editors of a contemporary Bible paraphrase -- a project that could take up to four years to complete, Garrett says.
"Christianity has this compelling story, but we don't tell it in as compelling a way as we ought to," he says. "We can tell all these great stories in ways that draw people in -- entertaining as well as enlightening."
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