By Ron Barnes
Published June 15, 2017
| Last Appeared in the Reaper |

The Printed Page is Not Dead

Contrary to what you may hear in popular media and culture, print is still widely being used and here at SLM we continue to reap its benefits. Since I have been here, over 25,000 people annually have come to Christ as indicated on those “pieces of paper,” which are also used to disciple them. Recently, we have been highlighting the electronic versions of our courses and God has led us to a talented team that will begin to make them available online this summer, but God is still greatly using the printed version of our courses.

We don’t expect our print to go away, or even diminish in numbers. We print significantly in Madison, but also on location around the world. Many of our Branches have simple, low-cost machines that allow them to produce lessons to supply themselves and local ministries within their reach. Other Branches have rather sophisticated equipment and even use it to offset the costs of their ministry. We also have discovered in certain parts of the world, after shipping, customs, and transportation, it is actually cheaper for us to contract a local printer to produce our lessons.

The “Publications Department” is made up of an Orders Department, Pre-Press (graphics), a Print Shop, and Shipping Department. The needs in every stage of the process are significant as we strive to continue to make the courses available free to student and low cost to ministries. We are praying God will provide volunteers and full-time missionaries to help us continue to operate as we have historically.

The actual costs are nowhere near the cost to produce in the “real world” and has been offset further by our “Paper Partners” project. Over the years, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised to “buy a roll of paper,” which is about $800 per roll. We get between 20,000 and 30,000 lessons out of a roll and similar results from the same amount in our sheet fed presses. This fund allows us to continue to provide the lessons like we have for over 66 years and we praise God for those who have partnered with us through the years.

As we look to the future, among our various ministries at SLM, we desire to continue to serve broadly in Publications. So we are asking God to guide us through the next phases of SLM Publications. Our presses are starting to show their age and so are some of their operators. We are asking God to guide us to a simpler, yet equally as inexpensive, solution to printing, but that will be easier to set up, operate, and clean up. We hope that it will allow us to utilize less skilled operators than our current machines require. We also want to minimize the physical-ness of their operation.

So please pray with us about some crucial prayer requests:

  1. Recruitment- We are starting to see the need for a variety of pressmen, graphic artists, mechanics for the machinery, and office staff for the whole department. Some of these roles could be done on a volunteer basis, but most would entail serving in Madison.
  2. Partners- We will continue to promote Paper Partners and are asking God to continue to bring in money to offset the printing costs. At the same time we know we are going to need some significant finances when it comes to the point of actually purchasing newer equipment. We ask that many would be praying that God would prepare the hearts of some to partner specifically on the purchase of new equipment. I don’t think it is too soon to start thinking and praying about this even without any real numbers to share.
  3. Wisdom- We want to continue to make wise financial and equipment choices and are asking God to truly guide this process. We are asking God to direct us to the right pieces of equipment for the right prices.

If you would like to have more information or help in some capacity, feel free to contact Ron Barnes at rbarnes@slmin.org, or Hugh Jarrell at hjarrell@slmin.org, or call (706)342-0397, or visit our website at www.sourcelight.org.

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