Last month I was at a conference in Toronto and spoke on the history of InterVarsity Press. One of the themes I highlighted was how IVP has been a conduit for British-style evangelicalism into North America over the last sixty years, a tradition that continues to this day. This is a brand of Christianity that is more comfortable interacting with culture than its American counterpart and is not afraid of the intellectual enterprise. We think the influence of the Brits on the American scene in this way has been very salutary.
At the conclusion of the talk, I asked the question, “And where will IVP be going in the next sixty years?” How many organizations are able to ask that kind of question seriously?
Most businesses are shackled by short-range planning driven by quarterly reports to stockholders and The Street. You’ve got to show a profit and a growing profit every three months or stock prices go down. This can make long-range investment difficult. Sure, you can sometimes capitalize or expense certain large, long-term projects, which eases the pain as you go. But the ravenous animal of growth is always lurking, ready to spring on its prey.
Despite these pressures, or because of them, long-range planning is a discipline–an essential discipline. Flipping from one priority or plan to another wastes everybody’s time and the organization’s resources. It’s a challenge to look ahead and stay on course, but a necessary and important one.
So how did I answer the question? I said that while IVP has been a conduit for British influence in North America over the last sixty years, my hope and dream was that IVP could be a conduit into the US and Canada for the influence of Christians from all over the globe during the next sixty years. While Christianity is stagnating or declining in the West, it is flourishing in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The future of Christianity in the next century lies in these continents. They will be leading the faith, and those of us in the West will have much to learn and much to benefit from them. I look forward to IVP playing a part in making that happen.