Mums At The Table magazine editor Melody Tan talks about how an 18-month-old ministry in Australia is targeting non-Adventist mothers of young children, working to create community in a virtual village with a panel lifestyle TV show, social media channels and a monthly magazine.
Question: You edit a magazine called Mums At The Table, published by Adventist Media in Australia. How long has Mums at the Table been around, and have you been the editor since the beginning?
Answer: Mums At The Table was conceived initially as a predominantly YouTube/social media TV ministry. It started off as a women’s panel lifestyle TV show, filled with thought-provoking and inspiring conversation on a variety of topics, including family, faith and empowerment, as well as how-to segments on cooking and home projects. The panelists are all Adventists, and a majority of them are mums, which gives the show a unique Christian voice while tackling the universal issues families face. The first episode aired in February 2017 and I was — and still am — part of the panel on the show.
The magazine side of the ministry was added later as a way to further share and promote the ministry in a more tangible way. Our research revealed that while mums spend a lot of time online, they also like to flick through a hard copy magazine when taking a well-deserved break. It is also easier to leave magazines at playgroups, mothers’ groups, medical practices and the like than it is a TV show! The first issue of Mums At The Table magazine was launched in September 2017 and yes, I had the great privilege and pleasure to shape the magazine right from the beginning.
Are there other things in the Mums At The Table stable as well? A social media forum?
Mums At The Table is a multimedia ministry. There is the magazine and the TV show, and we also have a website, a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, a newly launched Facebook group (that operates like an online mothers’ group) and an Instagram account.
Who is Mums At The Table created for? Are you focusing on a non-Adventist audience?
Our main target audience are non-Adventist mothers with children aged between three and 12. Our research revealed that while there is a plethora of information for pregnant women and mums with newborns, mothers with children of preschool and primary school age are missing out. Mums At The Table is designed to provide these mums with friendship and information, but also to give a unique Christian perspective on the issues they face as mothers.
The tagline for Mums At The Table is “Real women, real conversations, real issues.” Motherhood can be a very isolating experience, particularly these days when family support is not always nearby. So Mums At The Table is all about reaching out and supporting women, and building relationships with them, becoming the virtual village that it takes to raise their child.
How often does the magazine come out? How big is your audience?
The magazine is monthly, while the TV show is weekly. We currently have a circulation of around 8,000, and we have been blessed to see that number increase every month. Unfortunately, it is difficult to accurately determine the number of viewers for the TV show as it is on a number of different platforms and ratings aren’t as readily available. We have received anecdotal stories as well as emails from viewers however, so we know there are people watching the show and enjoying the content.
Anyone (in New Zealand and Australia) who wants to join our magazine mailing list can do so on our website. Bulk copies are also available for mothers’ groups, play groups or anybody who would like to distribute the magazine to mums. If you’re not in Australia and New Zealand, you can still catch up on our articles, plus bonus materials, on our website.
Our weekly show can be viewed on our YouTube channel.
The magazine is free. How can you afford not to charge?
We have some amazing donors who have caught the vision of our mission and supported the ministry. We are continuing to work hard on securing further donations and looking into other funding opportunities.
What do you most enjoy about editing the magazine? What do you find the most challenging part of the job?
I love the brainstorming stage of the magazine, when I’m coming up with ideas for a new issue, researching and talking with others, figuring out who to approach for articles and how to fill up the pages with quality content that will benefit our readers.
Probably the most challenging part is trying to make a decision! There are so many topics and issues that mums are concerned with — and rightly so — and sometimes, having to pick one thing over another because we only have 34 pages in each issue can be quite difficult!
What has been the most popular section of the magazine?
“Cooking with Gia & Olive” has proven to be highly popular in both our magazine and TV show. Gia is mum to Olive, a spunky five-year-old. Their — well, Gia does most of the cooking — recipes are healthy, vegetarian, and family-friendly. Food and cuteness, I think it’s a sure-win combination!
And what topics are the most popular? How do you decide on which topics to cover?
The decision process is a combination of personal experience and research. I have a two-year-old boy so you can say I’m in the trenches when it comes to parenting issues. Conversations with fellow mums and plenty of reading help inspire me. At the same time, we have conducted focus groups with mums in our target audience to determine what topics they’re most concerned with, and these include managing the use of media, discipline and behavior, and finding the balance between self and children.
What are Adventist Media's plans for growing Mums At The Table? Is it seen as an outreach program?
It is definitely an outreach program. What we want to do is create a safe, vibrant, and supportive community for mums on social media, where friendships are formed and where the Christian perspective is heard and shared.
Do you put any religious content into Mums At The Table — or anything specifically Adventist?
All the discussions on our show and content in our magazine are conveyed in a Christian context, based on the values and beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, if we’re talking theological or apologetics-type content, then no. Mums At The Table is about being a safe space to have conversations about parenting issues, not about preaching Christianity. At the same time, Christ is meant to permeate everything we, as Christians, do, which means we will have a unique way of doing parenting, and that is certainly reflected in our content.
Is there a plan for trying to connect personally with readers, and maybe invite them to Sabbath School, or is the Mums at the Table program standalone?
Connection and relationships is what the Mums At The Table ministry is about. The main difference is that in a highly technological age, we’re initiating that personal touch digitally first. It’s essentially friendship evangelism in a digital age and so the strategy is the same: make connections and build relationships, eventually leading to invitations to attend a local church event.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has vibrant and valuable programs for children, be it Sabbath School or the Adventurers and Pathfinders programs. There are also plenty of committed Adventist parents with young children who would love to expand the village in which they’re raising their kids. We are still in the early stages of Mums At The Table, but long-term, we would love to have sponsored events where we can connect our readership with the programs — and people — of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Of course, we would also be open to partnering with local churches.
Is the Mums At The Table program based on, or inspired by, another similar program?
Elements of the ministry — parenting magazine, TV talk show, etc. — are based on commercial formulas, but if you look at Mums At The Table as a whole, we’re in a pretty unique space as far as I know.
As a ministry it is breaking new ground for the Adventist Church. Never before have we attempted something quite like this. It’s all about connections and community, relationships and trust in the online space, with a clear pathway to connect people from the community with local churches.
Alita Byrd is Interviews Editor for Spectrum.
Image courtesy of Melody Tan.
We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.