We Support Christian Publishing Houses but Whom do They Support?

Businesses are in business to make money, to turn a profit. That’s the model for them all right? What about Christian publishing houses? Tyndale, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, etc…? There are a few different business models that Bible publishers operate with:

 

  • Zondervan is for-profit and owned by Harper Collins, owned by the News Corporation, controlled by Rupert Murdoch
  • Thomas Nelson is for-profit and privately owned by InterMedia_Partners (they are now owned by News Corp)
  • Tyndale is for-profit and is owned by the Tyndale Foundation. See this Q&A with Mark Taylor (scroll down) to read his thoughts on the Tyndale Foundation. (Here). You may be able to find out more by just googling “the Tyndale Foundation” See the copyright page of any NLT Bible for the official language about proceeds of the NLT.
  • Most of the other smaller publishers are not-for-profit. This is fantastic, though the fact that they’re not generating profits doesn’t necessarily translate to savings for the person buying a Bible.

The first thing we must ask ourselves is whether or not for-profit means pro-profit.

As many of you know, I am a fan of the New Living Translation, but the more I read of Tyndale’s commitment to bible translations in remote parts of the world, I become a bigger fan of Tyndale.

From the above link:

Most of today’s leading Bible publishers are for-profit companies who exist to make money for the shareholders. Where does the money from sales of NLT products (including the NLT Study Bible) go, and what difference do you think that makes in how Tyndale approaches the publication and distribution of Bible products?

In 2001 my parents gave most of the stock of Tyndale House Publishers to the Tyndale House Foundation. So we are
a tax-paying company owned by a not-for-profit foundation. The company pays royalties to the Foundation for every
NLT Bible that we sell, and the company also pays dividends to the Foundation to help support its program of making
grants to other charities all around the world. (In 2008, the Foundation will make grants totaling $4.6 million.) In this
way, we fulfill our corporate purpose both by the products we publish and by helping other ministries do what they do
best. It’s the best of all worlds!

Can you give us some examples of the kind of work the Tyndale Foundation supports?

We have a broad list of organizations to whom we make grants. For example, each year we make a major gift to The
Seed Company, an affiliate of Wycliffe Bible Translators that trains people from minority languages to translate the
Bible into their own language. We also support various Christian social service agencies here in the Chicago area—
and everything in between!

Some information on what Tyndale does with the money that you and I spend on these new bibles:

Funding Limitations:

The Tyndale House Foundation has no funding limitations, except that they do not offer financial gifts to libraries and other building endowments.

Total Annual Giving:

$3,641,500

Average Number of Requests & Grants Per Year:

170

Average Grant Range :

$5,000-$25,000

Areas of Interest Description:

The Tyndale House Foundation is interested in Christian and Protestant agencies and religious federated giving programs. The foundation is dedicated to spreading the gospel internationally through Christian literature projects, including Bible translations, and other projects nationally and abroad.

Application Procedures:

All interested applicants should first contact the Tyndale House Foundation via phone or mail. They should then send ten copies of their proposal to the above address by December 31.

Selected Grants:

$20,000 to Christian Leaders for Africa, $15,000 to the Christian Literature Campaign, $5,000 to Good News Partners, $15,000 to Overseas Tribal Services

Guidestar/Form 990 Link:
http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2006/362/555/2006-362555516-0315f99c-F.pdf

Why am I focused on Tyndale in this article? Because, I recommend the NLT (Study Bible and Mosaic), and there has been questions in my own mind, and from some of you, concerning the nature of publishing. I simply do not want to support something, or recommend something to anyone, even to one person, and find that I have erred in some way. Yes, Tyndale publishes more than just bibles or biblical study materials. Such things as the Chuck Norris fact book doesn’t seem comparable to the NLT Mosaic, but dear readers, I can better understand the wide variety of publishing when I see that they give a lot of money to what we might term mission work.

Frankly, I feel pretty good about buying and recommending bibles from Tyndale, knowing some of my money actually going to helping others – not as a gimmick or a campaign, but as part of the daily routine. It is not trumpeted from the roof tops, but every copy of the NLT printed by Tyndale contains the following statement on the copyright page:

Tyndale House Publishers and Wycliffe Bible Translators share the vision for an understandable, accurate translation of the Bible for every person in the world. Each sale of the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, benefits Wycliffe Bible Translators. Wycliffe is working with partners around the world to accomplish Vision 2025—an initiative to start a Bible translation program in every language group that needs it by the year 2025.

I’ll continue my support and recommendation for the NLT and Tyndale, first because of the Translation, and second, because I feel that it is the Christian duty to support bringing the word of God to others.

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33 Replies to “We Support Christian Publishing Houses but Whom do They Support?”

  1. Interesting discussion. Thing is, does a Christian publishing company have any less right to expect to make a profit than, say, a Christian plumber? Isn’t it better that Christians invest in and become the shareholders of either business than that they rely, for investment income (in retirement?) on non-Christian businesses? Tricky one 😉

    1. Many assume that bible publishers are using the bible to make a quick buck. Tyndale has turned out a few different editions of the NLT (Study Bible, Mosaic, among others) and when they do, people tend to think that they are only interested in profits. Many believe that you should not make money off the bible.

      I believe that Christian publishers have a duty to be responsible with their profits, and I believe that at least Tyndale does take that responsibility serious. They use a portion of their profits to help others through grants, etc…

    1. Indeed, Mr. Hyatt, you are correct. I am not opposed to Christian publishing companies being for-profit, as I think it adds a certain accountability and stewardship.

      BTW, Thomas Nelson made the first bible given to me (well, the first complete bible) and the one which I gave to my dear wife.

  2. Interesting post. I work in Communications for Wycliffe in the UK and am pleased that Tyndale support the work of Bible Translation.

    Personally I have no problem with businesses, Christian or otherwise, making a profit. Hopefully it secures the long-term viability of the business, pays the wages of staff and gives ongoing employment to suppliers. Where I get worried is when the ‘profitability’ becomes exorbitant bonuses, outrageous salaries and the supporting of lavish lifestyles when there are so many people in need. (That’s not to say that people shouldn’t receive financial reward for their work, or that people shouldn’t have the right to decide what best to do with money, but the recent financial collapse around the world would highlight that there’s a difference between being well rewarded and abusing the gift of money. )

    To take Bible’s as an example. It would be interesting to know exactly how many different versions there are in English. I’ve heard various numbers banded about (80 – 250). Then if you consider the multiple ‘special’ Bibles with pictures, study notes, references, gift versions… etc, etc.

    Currently there are around 200 million people in the world without access to the Bible, in printed, audio or video form. That’s 2,393 language groups. This doesn’t include the other 2,000 languages that only have part of the Bible (That’s either one book or the whole New Testament).

    1. Phil, thanks for the comment.

      I believe, as a I stated in the post, that a certain amount of good stewardship is created by having the companies ‘for-profit.’ It does, however, take a good biblically based based to refrain from making profits the center of the business goal.

      I was just speaking with a co-worker of the problem which you discuss. I am glad to see Tyndale supporting bible translations, not just retaining profits. Perhaps we can do more to shed light on your wonderful organization. While many desire to see more translations available in other languages, I doubt that they know where to start.

  3. I am glad to see that Tyndale makes a profit on their bibles and likewise guarantees that royalties and profits are plowed back into ministry! Thanks for this discussion!

  4. I have chosen not to allow a comment from a ‘Rev’ who claims that bible publishers had brought chaos to the world. An odd sort, from what I can find about him on the net.

  5. I am from Sri Lanka and am involved in setting-up a Christian book publishing unit for the Colombo Theological Seminary which is an inter-denominational evangelical seminary based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (www.cts.lk)

    The Vision of CTS is to provide …“Resources to the Church for the transformation of nations.” For those who do not read English in Sri Lanka, there is an acute shortage of Christian material. CTS began to respond to this need by publishing Christian literature in the Sinhala language. Work has presently begun, in forming a Tamil publishing team. Sinhala and Tamil are the main local languages spoken in Sri Lanka.

    We are still at the early stages of addressing our task and I am writing to find out how we could find financial support for this challenging task. Presently a Sri Lankan Christian family, based in the US is supporting us but we would require more financial help to stabilize and strengthen our project.

    I would appreciate any contacts that you might be able to give us. Please send email to cts.publishing@gmail.com

  6. John Nkomo – unless you have something pertinent to this issue, your comments will not be allowed. I have over 3000 more posts. Find one.

  7. Polycarp:

    I am mindful that most publishers that we support are not particularly Christians in terms of Jesus Christ principles. I am mindful that most people in the modern Christendom world have lost the sense of fundamental moral obligation and meaningful spiritual-life that Jesus Christ established with his disciples including all those who followed up in the steps of Christ during the early church in Jerusalem up to the time of Saint Polycarp who could appreciate to suffer for Christ, rather than denounce him.

    Polycarp story is significant for today Christian publishers. But they are not Christians. They are there for business and making money. “He who sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning: For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the devil” l [Satan] if you like. [1 John 3: 8-9]:
    History moves inexorably according to the will of the sovereign God. It is God who will have the final say-word when all is said and done. Jesus Christ is the ultimate Judge on earth.

    Although Jesus Christ came to save the whole world; the world [People] also represented false love for wealth and honor and passion that separate men from God the Creator of all, and one another as result of sin in every intent of men’s heart in daily living. I am only interested in the true-gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing else.

    We need to have clear conscience that persists with upright hearts in the sight of God. But who has it? God knows in the radiance of Jesus Christ. God searches the heart!

    1. That is fine, but your previous comments were way off subject. I support those Christian publishing houses which I believe are living sound principles, such as Tyndale. I do not support Zondervan, etc…

      Further, considering that we living in a world which is depraved, unless we hand scribe bible translations, then we will in some way support something we don’t like.

  8. Where can I find a list of “Christian” Publishers that are owned by secular companies? I’m having trouble supporting those that also have a publishing division that promotes anti-Christian values. Is there such a list? Thanks for your web site.

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