Lifestyle Magazines Targeted at Young Audiences Find Religion

By Max Gross

Published September 12, 2003, issue of September 12, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When you spot your beau in the cafeteria, is he: A) Bullying the class nerd into “sharing” his dessert? B) Starting a food fight? C) Laughing at his table with friends? Or D) Sitting with the lonely new kid?

If you answered “D,” you have “a godly guy”— at least in the opinion of Revolve, the new bible for teenage Christian girls.

Revolve marks the newest merger between the popular media and religion. Revolve is a glossy magazine-style publication — on its cover are three laughing, acne-free teenage girls who would look at home on any copy of Cosmo Girl or Teen People — but don’t be deceived: Between the apple-cheeked models, beauty tips and quizzes (like “Is Your Boyfriend a Godly Man-in-Training?”) Revolve includes a complete copy of the New Century Version of the New Testament.

“We did a lot of testing,” said Laurie Whaley, a spokesman for Thomas Nelson, the Tennessee-based Christian publisher who put out Revolve. “We went out and asked [girls] how often they read the Bible. They said, ‘We don’t read it — it’s too freaky, too big.’”

Revolve researchers found that teenage girls were instead reading a tremendous number of lifestyle magazines. Revolve editors asked themselves: What about combining the content of the Scriptures with the format of a glossy magazine? They hired the Irish design firm Four 5 One to format the book, and over the course of more than 18 months they compiled quizzes, teen factoids and beauty secrets to accompany the basic text — although some teens will be disappointed to find that the beauty secrets focus more on “inner beauty.”

It is not the first time Thomas Nelson has published a New Testament for teens. “Extreme Teen,” a book-form Bible first published in 1998, is also intended for teens, but this is the first time it has taken on the magazine format. (Thomas Nelson is planning to produce a similar magazine-style New Testament for boys next year.) And so far the magazine has been extremely successful. In the past six weeks it has become one of the fastest-selling Bibles in the country.

Might this signal a new trend of religious publications aimed at teens?

Jewish Family & Life! a nonprofit Jewish organization that specializes in Jewish Web sites, just finished the prototype of its new Jewish teen magazine, JVibe. JVibe will also offer quizzes (“Are You a Natural Born Leader?”), polls (“How Have/Would You Handle It If a Friend Made an Anti-Semitic Joke In Front of You?”) and a cartoon Jewish superhero, “Kick-Butt.” JVibe has not announced a definitive launch date nor a firm publication schedule.

Like Revolve, JVibe is dedicated to delivering a religious message to teens. “There is a dramatic drop-off in what we call communal stickiness after the bar/bat mitzvah,” said Yossi Abramowitz, CEO of Jewish Family & Life! According to Abramowitz, only 20% of Jewish teens are still active in Jewish life by their senior year of college. “You go from the heights [before the bar mitzvah] where 70% to 80% are engaged at some level and then there’s this terrible fallout.”

But unlike Revolve, JVibe won’t simply take traditional Scripture and wrap it in a glossy package. JVibe, instead, will be a more typical periodical with regular features — but with a religious bent.

“It’s different from Revolve in that we heard clearly from Jewish teens they don’t want anything preachy,” Abramowitz said. Jewish teens are “not likely to be tricked. Just because you’ve put out a flashy, Cosmo-looking cover doesn’t mean you’re going to see through [to the] ultimate” point.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.