“The 2010 Liahona: New Approach, Same Goal,” Liahona, Oct. 2009, N1–N3
In January 2010, readers will say tot ziens (Dutch), au revoir (French), and tofa (Samoan)—good-bye—to the old Liahona and welcome to the new.
While readers in 51 languages will continue to receive inspired counsel from Church leaders and inspiring stories about members of the Church from around the world, a host of changes are intended to make the magazine more useful for members of all ages and all levels of gospel experience.
“It started with a feeling that the Liahona could do more to reach the increasingly diverse membership of the Church,” said Val Johnson, managing editor of the Liahona. “We knew we could do a better job of meeting the needs of the worldwide Church.”
“We know readers love the current Liahona,” said Jenifer Greenwood, assistant managing editor of the Liahona. “We’re hoping to take what is good and add to it.”
Nephi explained that the writing on the original Liahona, a ball or compass found by his father, Lehi, gave them “understanding concerning the ways of the Lord,” but that it “changed from time to time” (1 Nephi 16:29).
One of the goals of the Liahona magazine has always been to help provide readers with an understanding concerning the ways of the Lord, according to Brother Johnson. He says that won’t change with the new Liahona in 2010.
However, a number of other changes are planned.
The first thing readers will likely notice is the new look and the improved organization of the magazine, intended to make the content easier to find and easier to use.
Sections of the magazine will be written and designed specifically for certain key audiences, including young adults, youth, and children. Each section will be color-coded to make it easy to identify.
In addition, some of the sections inserted into the center of the current magazine will be relocated with the new Liahona. The children’s section will be integrated into the magazine with other content for specific age groups, and the News of the Church section will now appear at the back of the magazine.
In many areas and countries, a section written specifically by local members for local members will appear in each issue. This section may contain messages from Area Presidencies; news and events from the area; testimonies, faith-promoting experiences, and other inspiring contributions from local members; and other important information.
Another important change will be the addition of short sidebars to some articles in order to help members of different age groups apply important information to themselves. For example, an article encouraging temple worship could be supplemented by a narrative for teens about a young member’s first visit to the temple as well as by a related activity for young children, such as a coloring page of a temple.
While teaching his son about the original Liahona, Alma stated that “the Lord prepared it” (Alma 37:38). Members of the team that helped build the new magazine wanted to be able to say the same thing.
“Coming up with the innovations and new design has been a revelatory process,” said Sister Greenwood. “We have seen the Lord’s hand in it all along the way.”
The project began in July 2008 after Elder Jay E. Jensen, then Executive Director of the Curriculum Department and editor of Church magazines, approved the creation of a team to create a prototype for a new Liahona that would better meet the needs of its diverse readership.
Six months of brainstorming, writing, designing, and testing produced a proposal that was approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in January 2009.
“It was an intense experience,” said Adam Olson, an assistant managing editor at the Liahona, “because at the same time we had to carry on with the work required to produce the magazines each month. There was no way we could do both without looking to the Lord for help.”
With the Liahona normally planned one year in advance, the newly approved changes were implemented immediately in order to unveil the changes with the January 2010 issue.
“We can testify of those moments when we had a ‘stupor of thought’ (D&C 9:9) and then those flashes of insight that definitely didn’t come from us,” Brother Johnson said. “The Lord really helped us.”
Nephi said the writing on the Liahona “was plain to be read” and gave them “understanding concerning the ways of the Lord” (1 Nephi 16:29). Alma explained that just as following the Liahona led Nephi’s family to the promised land, “the words of Christ, if we follow their course, [shall] carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise” (Alma 37:45).
Beginning with the First Presidency Message—the words of Christ as given through His servants—and ending with a new department, Words of Christ, on the inside of the back cover, the intent of the Liahona is to help lead its readers to Christ.
“There’s a lot about the Liahona that has changed,” said Brother Johnson, “but the goal is still the same. We hope to bring people to Christ.”
“The Liahona will continue to amplify the prophetic voice of the Brethren to the Saints around the world,” said Elder Spencer J. Condie, Editor of the Church magazines. “We hope that the Liahona will be found in every Latter-day Saint home throughout the earth.”