Dr. Paul Nyquist is president of Moody Global Ministries. In our interview, Dr. Nyquist shares about the scope of Moody Global Ministries, leadership principles, the challenges of Christian education, and encouraging trends in the church.
Josh Moody: Paul, Moody Bible Institute and its ministry is a HUGE operation. give us some sense of the scale of all that is going on?
Paul Nyquist: It is an amazing privilege for me to serve at Moody with its 131-year history of equipping people with the truth of God’s Word. At its core, Moody is a school with nearly 4000 students on two undergraduate campuses, two seminary campuses and online. Our 45,000 graduates serve in virtually every country of the world. But Moody is somewhat unique in that it also has two sizable ministry divisions under the same banner. Moody Radio is one of the oldest Christian radio stations in the US, started in 1926, and now has 38 owned and operated stations from coast to coast.
There are also hundreds of affiliate stations which take the Moody signal. It is estimated that over a million people every day are listening to Moody radio programming. Moody Publishing was started in 1894 by D.L. Moody and has published over 300 million books over the years. Last year, the publishing arm sold over 3.5 million books, and one of its books, The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, was again on the NY Times Bestseller list. When you put all the ministries together, Moody is the world’s largest creator of original Christian content. Last year Moody Radio content was downloaded in 219 countries. Moody Publishers had books sold in 130 countries. So, when we say we want to go across the globe, cultures and generations with the truth of God’s Word, we take it very seriously.
JM: As a Christian leader how do you balance your time, priorities and competing demands on your schedule?
PN: This is a never-ending struggle. As the President of these varied ministries, there are always new demands creeping into my schedule. One advantage I now have after being in this seat for eight years is that I can anticipate many of the demands which will occur during the year. Therefore, I seek to block out major portions of time in advance so I can be rightly prepared for each event. A look at my Outlook calendar would show these priorities for many months in advance. At the same time, I seek to work ahead in priorities so that I will have the flexibility to respond to unplanned challenges/issues/emergencies when they emerge. Without discipline and focus, this job would be impossible to manage.
JM: What sort of principles guide you as a Christian leader?
PN: Let me list a few. First, when you are in the midst of white water and things are moving perilously fast, you must keep focused on your mission. Voices will always be calling for something new and different. Those can and should be considered. Yet, without a firm grip on your mission, your organization could look like a pinball, bouncing from side to side. Second, surround yourself with the best and most gifted leaders you can. I am blessed to have an outstanding Executive Team with me to navigate the daily issues. Without such a team, I would be swimming with the alligators. Third, recognize that, while you seek to make the best decisions possible at all times, you are fallible and some decisions will not work out like you had hoped. At those times, show humility, adjust appropriately and keep moving forward. God understands our limitations—even if other believers do not.
JM: Are there particular challenges facing Christian higher education today? And how are you sensing that we can meet and overcome those?
PN: There are enormous challenges facing Christian higher education today. First, as our culture becomes increasingly secular and humanistic, a degree from a Christian college is being de-valued. We have to win the messaging battle for the hearts of parents and students. Second, with the demographic changes, the number of students in college is already down a million in the past five years and will continue to decline over the next 10-15 years. This creates increasing competition for each potential student. Schools need to ramp up their recruitment efforts. Third, the costs of higher education are becoming more of a concern for students and parents. The model of high tuition is certainly questionable today. Fewer students wish to go deeply into debt to finance their education. At Moody undergraduate in Chicago, we do not charge tuition so that hopefully our graduates can go into ministry without the burden of debt.
JM: You’ve seen the evangelical Christian church from a vantage point for a number of different years. What sort of encouraging trends could we praise God for these days?
PN: God is doing amazing things in the world today. The church around the globe is growing at a rate of 50,000 new believers every day—mostly in the southern hemisphere. This is extremely encouraging, and we can say for the first time in church history, the church is truly global. I also see nations and continents now sending out workers and missionaries who used to be receiving nations. South America is now a sending continent. Africa is now a sending continent. China and Korea are both equipping thousands of workers for the harvest. With the technology available today, along with the rapidly growing church, I personally believe we have the resources necessary to finish the Great Commission in our generation. I believe when we get to heaven, we will have believers from the past seek to find out what it was like to be alive at this exciting moment in history.