Greg Thornton is a true Chicagoan. He loves the Bulls, the Bears, the Cubs, the Blackhawks, and the White Sox. He’s also had a long and productive career with Moody Bible Institute, currently serving as the senior VP of media.
“I have responsibility for the ministry of Moody Radio and Moody Publishers,” he says. “I started in publishing at Moody Press 35 years ago. In 1981, I was hired by Jerry Jenkins, the director of Moody Press at the time. He was looking for an advertising coordinator. I was a big fan of Jerry and his writing, and I joked with people that I got the job because I had read all of his books.”
Thornton worked on the advertising and marketing side of the house until he became director of Moody Press in 1985. “Then I moved into a VP role at the institute in the early 1990s. About five years ago, Paul Nyquist, president of Moody, asked if I would work on bringing Moody Radio and Publishers together under a media banner in preparation for a move into a new building. We’re underway with planning for that and looking forward to what God will do.”
“It’s often easier to see how God has been guiding your life and career when you look back rather than when you’re in the moment,” says Thornton. “I have found, that God’s faithfulness is great. It’s a daily walk with Him. Along the way I’ve questioned whether God wanted me to continue in publishing. Every time I’ve prayed that prayer, my sense has been that He has more for me to do.”
He continues, “I wouldn’t have predicted that [my life] would have come out this way. I’ve had wonderful mentors along the way including those individuals who’ve gone before in Christian publishing. I’ve been able to listen and learn from industry pioneers like Ken Taylor, Pete Gunther, Kent Puckett, and Bill Anderson. These are all dear friends, some in heaven now, but I owe a debt of gratitude to them.”
Thornton advises those in the Christian products industry today to first and foremost take thought and care for their own walk with Christ and to stay anchored.
“There’s no getting around the discipline it takes to do that with prayer, study, meditation, and connection to a strong local church. Then when the challenges of life come, those who are rooted deep in Christ will be like trees planted by streams of water,” he says. “Secondly, I would advise people to stay very, very close to their customers. In this industry, we have a tremendous advantage in knowing where our customers are. They gather weekly in churches in our towns and cities.
“It’s a different day than it was 40 years ago, but pastors and church leaders are still looking to make sure their congregations are staying grounded. We’re in an industry that fosters that with the products that we publish, produce, and sell. We can’t underestimate the rate of change around us. We can’t settle, and we must keep reinventing ourselves while staying true to the mission.”
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
“There will always be a need for the Christian products industry,” says Thornton. “The church needs the resources. Certainly, the distribution channels will continue to change, but there’s still a place for Christian retailing connected to the local community and highlighting the best of new resources under a single roof.”
He believes the best Christian books have yet to be written. “I work at a school that just graduated 865 undergraduate seminary students who have made the Bible their focus. These are young men and women who are very talented and who have been equipped with the Word. They have much to say to the church today, and we’re in an industry that has the opportunity to give platform to these young voices.”