The Crossway Story
Celebrating God’s Faithfulness and His Glory
A Passion to Proclaim the Gospel
In 1938 America was still struggling from the Great Depression and the winds of war were stirring in Europe. It didn’t seem like a favorable time to begin a new publishing ministry.
Clyde Dennis, a young Christian printer, had a passion to proclaim the gospel and the willingness to take a step of faith. That initial ambition has grown into a multi-faceted publishing ministry that, by God’s grace, continues to impact millions around the world.
A Simple Beginning
As a new Christian, Clyde often took part in street meetings, speaking and passing out tracts. But most Christian literature at that time was poorly printed, poorly designed—and often poorly received. Because the gospel is God’s greatest message, Clyde reasoned, the good news should be published in a manner worthy of the message, with beauty and creativity as well as fidelity to God’s Word. Clyde promised God that he would dedicate his life to this end if God gave him the opportunity.
In 1938, that opportunity came to Clyde and his new bride, Muriel. Trusting God’s leading, they set aside part of their income for a new ministry. With his savings of $20, Clyde bought 200 pounds of paper to write and design the first few tracts. He then persuaded the printing company where he worked to let him use their presses after hours. He began by printing 40,000 tracts, sending samples to a list of 600 Christian workers.
The response was immediate. Within a few days, orders and letters of encouragement came flowing in. After just six months the tract ministry had grown to the point that Clyde and Muriel’s back bedroom could no longer serve as office, shipping room, and warehouse. Believing God had brought them this far, Clyde quit his full-time job and dedicated his time to writing, designing, and publishing tracts and Christian literature. Muriel became secretary and shipping clerk, folding thousands of tracts by hand.
The ministry of Good News Publishers grew. Within the first five years, Good News was distributing more than 50 million tracts annually.
Walking by Faith
Though the 1950s presented serious health challenges for Clyde and Muriel, the ministry continued to expand by God’s grace. After Clyde’s homegoing in 1962, Muriel stepped in as president and remained active in the ministry until her own death in 1993. In addition, Paul Benson—who had been with Good News from the beginning—accepted responsibility as vice president and general manager. Under their leadership, the passion for the gospel remained at the center of the ministry.
In 1979, another major step of faith was taken to expand the ministry of Good News by starting a book publishing division—Crossway Books. Under the leadership of Dr. Lane Dennis, Clyde and Muriel's son, Crossway has become one of today’s leading publishers of evangelical Christian books and Bibles.
Since its inception in 1979, Crossway Books has been privileged to publish more than 1,500 different titles, including books by Francis A. Schaeffer, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Piper, John MacArthur, J. I. Packer, Chuck Colson, Frank Peretti, Max Lucado, Joni Eareckson Tada, and D. A. Carson.
To date, just under 26 million books have been distributed by Crossway, all fueled by Crossway’s desire to see God’s Word applied to every area of life.
A significant new step of faith for Crossway was the publication of The Holy Bible, English Standard Version in the fall of 2001.
The vision for the ESV Bible first began to develop in the early 1990s as many evangelical Christian leaders saw a need for a new “word-for-word” Bible translation—one that would be characterized by literal accuracy and literary excellence, in the classic stream of the Tyndale New Testament and the King James Version Bible.
The ESV was created by a sixty-member team of the finest evangelical Bible scholars from around the world, with additional review and input provided by the sixty-member ESV Advisory Council. The overall work of revision, review, and final approval was carried out by the twelve-member Translation Oversight Committee, with Dr. J. I. Packer as the General Editor.
In the years since its initial publication, the ESV has become the translation of choice for many churches, denominations, ministries, and families around the world. It is also the fastest growing translation and continues to be published in new editions both in the United States and internationally.
The fall of 2008 marked the next significant step in the development of the ESV with the publication of the ESV Study Bible. Created by a team of ninety-five evangelical Bible scholars and teachers, the Study Bible includes twenty thousand notes and two million words in over 2,700 pages. It became a bestselling Bible and was the first Bible to be named the “Christian Book of the Year” by the ECPA. It was also the first Bible to be simultaneously published in print and online.
Digital Media and Our Vision for the Future
Crossway has been at the forefront of digital media and technology in Christian publishing. When the ESV Bible was launched in 2001, it was the first Bible ever to be published simultaneously in both print and digital formats. Today the ESV Bible has been accessed digitally by millions of users. It is widely recognized for ease of use as an iPad App, and the number of Kindle downloads are in the millions.
Our goal for the ESV Bible is to provide it free through digital media everywhere and at any time throughout the world—free via the web and every major tablet and smartphone device.
At the same time, we believe there still is an enormous need for printed Bibles, printed books, and printed gospel tracts—and that these are not going away any time soon. It seems, instead, that a “both-and” equilibrium is beginning to emerge, whereby print and digital media will exist side-by-side, in some complementary form. (For example, Crossway’s physical books have continued to grow at a modest steady pace over the last five years, while digital media has been doubling and tripling).
Given this changing dynamic, it is our calling to remain faithful to the “Gospel-Centered” vision that the Lord has entrusted to us—via the printed page but equally by means of every new digital medium, as soon as it becomes available.
Additionally, opportunities for international partnerships continue to grow. The ESV has been distributed worldwide through the networks of 150 Bible Societies. God's Word is being proclaimed among the nations as millions have been exposed to the gospel through Crossway books and Bibles.
Pressing on for God’s Glory
Crossway’s goal is to continue seeking the glory of God in everything we do—to proclaim his truth in power; to reflect his glory in content and design; and to express something of his holiness and grace to a fallen world.