Engaging the Church for God's Mission

Engaging the Church for God's Mission

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One hundred years ago, in 1912, the first issue of the Herald of Holiness rolled off the big presses that sat in the basement of a modest home at 2109 Troost Avenue in Kansas City. The three-story structure had only 12 small rooms, but it housed the publishing interests of the fledging Church of the Nazarene. Still on Troost Avenue, though now down the street a few blocks in a state-of-the-art facility, Nazarene Publishing House is celebrating her 100th birthday. And, though the methods are different, the passion remains: to engage the Church for the mission of God.

'From their very beginnings, religious organizations of every description are forced to a realization of their dependence upon their own presses for the propagation of their distinctive doctrines and for the coordination and progress of their respective movements,' wrote Fred Parker in his 1937 short history of NPH. Today, the NPH presses run more than 20 million pages each year, including Sunday School curriculum, Bible commentaries, ministry books, children?s story papers, Holiness Today, and print music.

Alongside those printed pages are E-books, audio books, iPad apps, digital songs, and content delivered in just about every conceivable digital format.

'In the midst of such a rapidly changing industry, institutional memory is a good thing,' says NPH President Hardy Weathers. 'Our shared memory keeps us grounded while we strategically move forward to embrace the future in a publishing industry that continues to reinvent itself at warp speed.'

In years past, some may have had the misconception that NPH was only a printing house, according to Weathers. 'The truth is that printing is only a small part of what we do,' he says. 'NPH is a publisher, a content producer, and a facilitator of dialogue. Publishing resources such as academic texts and the New Beacon Bible Commentary'these are the conversations that shape theologians, pastors, and lay leaders for generations to come.'

The desire to resource pastors and ministry leaders requires NPH to stay in close touch with that constituency. 'Our commitment is to serve as the pastors? extended staff,' says Sales and Marketing Director Eric Bryant. 'The local church pastor is our hero. Many of these men and women are carrying tremendous loads, working 60-plus hour weeks, and sacrificing daily to advance the Kingdom. NPH wants to be the first place that comes to mind when they are looking for a partner in ministry.'

The partnership requires NPH to be where the people are, according to NPH Vice President Mark Brown. 'We have to be as accessible to our customers as their own smart phones,' Brown says. 'The NPH customer expects superior quality, ease of use, and competitive pricing. We intend to deliver all three.'

Initiatives to take NPH into the future include the addition of a manager of integrated media to the research and development team. 'This position will continue to evaluate new technologies as they relate to the publishing industry,' says Brown. 'Strategically, using these new technologies we will create content for consumers in the ways that are most useful for them. Innovation is key to meeting the needs of our customers.'

Innovation is not without risk. Publishing can be a precarious business at times. But NPH is no stranger to trial. At various junctures in the last 100 years, NPH has faced the challenge of adapting to the needs of a changing church. 'NPH enjoys a great legacy of faithful leaders who have gone before us,' says Weathers. 'Our commitment is to carry on with confidence, trusting the God who goes before us. The future is as certain as His promise. He continues to uphold us with His victorious right hand.'

More on the History of NPH

By order of the 1911 General Assembly in Nashville, Tennessee, it was ordered that the Committee on Publishing should nominate a Board of Publication . . . it was a tremendous responsibility, but right valiantly, and with sublime faith, these good men set to work, and that without delay.

From their first report:
Kansas City, Missouri, was selected as the place for the location of the central Publishing House. After careful investigation, we find that $50,000 is needed to launch the enterprise. Negotiations have already begun . . . By this means the church will come into immediate possession of their publications.'
- Fred Parker, NPH Book Editor, 1937

In 1930, the Lillenas Publishing Company of Indianapolis was merged with the Nazarene Publishing House of Kansas City. In this way, NPH acquired a fine Music Department which under the direction of the genial and gifted Haldor Lillenas, has added much to the attractiveness of the establishment. The Nazarene Hymnal, 'Glorious Gospel Hymns,' 'Lillenas? Solos and Duets,' and many other songbooks for choirs, quartets, etc. besides numerous Cantatas and musical miscellanies of various kinds are products of this department.
- Fred Parker, NPH Book Editor, 1937


The House Studio, a new venture for a new millennium, was founded in 2009: We publish. Not because this world needs more books. Not because the Church needs more resources.

We publish because God is still telling stories. Based in Midtown Kansas City, we?re a group of folks who want to tell the stories of a missional God who is both the sent and sending One'and who invites us to participate with Him in the world. The House Studio seeks to create, comment on, and shape the Church?s ongoing conversation'taking seriously good stories and making them available to faith communities. We?ve done away with the traditional models of publishing'you know, throwing out a product and hoping it sticks. Instead, we are in partnership with people who are in the midst of the missional movement so we can provide content and resources for the people of God.

For more information about NPH visit www.nph.com.

Holiness Today, March/April 2012