In 1975, the future of Christianity Today hung in the balance. The magazine had been financially unstable for a number of years, and its editorial achievements (of which there were many) were primarily aimed at a narrower audience than could sustain the magazine. The board of directors hired 35-year-old Harold Myra as president and publisher. Myra had been editor of Campus Life, a magazine published by Youth for Christ to help Christian teens navigate adolescence with their faith intact.
Myra was charged with bringing the magazine to financial health while maintaining the mission and vision of founder Billy Graham. That meant taking a lot of heat for some key decisions. Fortunately, history proved his decisions sound. Lyle Schaller, the dean of church consultants, called CT's growth under Myra's leadership "one of the most remarkable success stories in American Christianity during the second half of the 20th century."
Myra did not act alone. He enlisted people with an instinct for operating a ministry like a business. One of his earliest hires was Paul Robbins, who had served with Myra in Youth for Christ. Together, they not only rescued CT, but they also created an approach to Christian publishing that has shaped many other evangelical Protestant publishing efforts.
This month, Myra and Robbins are retiring, Myra from his current post as CEO and executive chair, and Robbins from the office of president and publisher.
Phyllis Alsdurf, a journalism professor at Bethel University, calls the Myra-Robbins team "a modest approach that did amazing things." Just how have they influenced Christian publishing?
One way was by making CT a resource for struggling publications. In the early 1980s, I was an earnest beginning editor at another ...1