First evangelism, and then the Bible to grow the church

Written by on May 13, 2019

After nine years at the helm of Australia’s oldest continuous organisation, Dr Greg Clarke announced on 6 May he will be stepping down from his position as CEO of Bible Society Australia.

1079 Life asked him about his time at the top, and future plans.

Dr Greg Clarke

What are your reflections on your last nine years with BSA? The successes and challenges?

It has been a complete honour to lead the Bible Society in Australia through the last nine years, in particular in the journey towards our bicentenary in 2017.

I’m so grateful for the way our donors, supporting churches and staff all rose to the challenge of becoming a national organisation. With nearly 200 years of history, that was no simple task!

I count it as a great success that we kept all of our supporters through the process, we managed to grow to be a significant media and mission company in the digital age, and we continued to support international mission as well growing our Australian influence.

Merging Eternity news, the Centre for Public Christianity, Koorong Books and two publishing houses into the big Bible Society family has given me a great sense of excitement and satisfaction.

Seeing people’s eyes widen and hearts warm as they engage with the Bible remains the most exciting part of the job.

How do you assess the state of Bible translation and propagation around the world?

We are in age of accelerated Bible access. We will see all languages with some Scripture by the year 2033.

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to cooperation between lots of Bible agencies. And the distribution problem is being solved by the internet.

Even poor people in remote locations often have access to a phone and the web, and if there’s a Bible in their language they can usually access it for free. We just have to keep going in this direction; the Lord is providing the funding and the technology to make it happen.

However, the reputation of the Bible is mixed around the world. In many places in the West, we need to advocate for its truth, beauty and goodness in an atmosphere of deep suspicion.

We can’t expect people to ‘get with’ Christianity simply because they see a meme on Instagram. Deep, careful, caring and honest engagement is required.

Do you have any words of encouragement for Australian Christians with regard to continuing to support the ministries of Bible Society, and what that is important to you?

Please think of Bible mission as your second-most important giving commitment when it comes to Christian mission. First, evangelism and then the Bible to grow the church. That’s how I’ve always thought of it.

Of course, the Bible is involved very frequently in the evangelism itself. I think the work of the Bible Society is bread and butter Christian mission, and I’ve been stunned to find out that every fourth person I meet around Australia seems to have some connection with us.

What does the future hold for you?

Like all of us, I’ll find out tomorrow! I’ll spend some time now with my family discerning where my energies should best be directed next but charities, media and publishing, and academic work connecting the Christian faith and the culture are my areas of passion and experience, I’ll make my plans and then trust God to guide my steps.

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