Interview: 30 years of Matthias Media

  • Ian Carmichael
  • 7 June 2018

About the GoThereFor Library Fund
The goal is to fund free access to a whole suite of Matthias Media digital books and resources for at least 200 pastors in the developing world via our GoThereFor.com platform: at a total cost of $24,000. And if we can raise more funds, we can certainly find more pastors to bless with these ministry resources. Donations for this purpose are tax deductible in Australia through our GoThereFor Library Fund. To donate, please use our online donation form.

Donations in the USA are also tax deductible and can be made by calling our US office toll free on 1 866 407 4530.

It’s a simple equation: 200 friends each donating a $120 membership would see us meet this goal.

Transcript of video:

Marty Sweeney: Hello. I'm Marty Sweeney. We’re here at the Matthias Media studios with Ian Carmichael. Now, in the United States Matthias Media is probably best known for disciple-making resources like The Trellis and the Vine, One-to-one Bible Reading and Two ways to live. But what you may not know is that Matthias Media has been around for 30 years doing the same thing: making really good disciple-making resources. And I'm here with Ian Carmichael who has been there from the beginning and now is our CEO. So Ian, why don’t you tell us tell us how it all started and why.

Ian Carmichael: Sure. Well as you say, it's 30 years ago now. In 1988 our founder, Phillip Jensen, and our founding editor, Tony Payne, decided that they wanted to start a publishing house. So they got some funding to buy a Mac Plus computer and an Apple Laserwriter printer — which cost a lot of money in those days — and they started desktop publishing and started a publishing house.

Marty: But from what I understand, Ian — maybe correct me if I'm wrong — but you didn't start out to do traditional publishing, right?

Ian: Right, it was a means to an end. And that end was not publishing itself. But we had two goals really. The first goal was to encourage churches to hold the line on biblical convictions, and to think through the shape of ministry that flows from those biblical convictions. And then the second goal was to produce resources — practical resources, homegrown, Australian resources — that would help those churches to implement that type of ministry. 

Marty: Yep. So that was in 1988 in Sydney Australia. Fast forward now to 2018, influencing pastors and churches around the world, how did that happen?

Ian: Yeah, I don't know. In God's kindness and his sovereignty it did happen. We didn't predict it, we didn't realise it was going to happen. Our goal was merely to publish for Australia. But actually in God's providence it was only a few years in that we were contacted by a fellow by the name of Tim Thornborough from the UK. And he thought that our resources would be really useful for UK churches as well, and so he started St Matthias Press UK. And St Matthias Press UK went on to become the Good Book Company. And then, as you would know, in 2005 a guy called Marty Sweeney contacted us out of the blue and said he thought the resources would be good for American churches as well, and offered to help us with that. And you started Matthias Media USA.

Marty: Yep, 12 years ago. And in God's kindness we keep going. And very grateful for the fruit God has given here in the United States from that. Now, Ian, 30 years; over 350 resources for disciple making Matthias Media has produced. Of all those which one stands out to you the most?

Ian: Yeah that's a tough question. It's like asking me to choose between 350 children. But there is one in terms of its global impact… The Trellis and the Vine is probably the book that has had the biggest broadest readership and impact. We sold more of that book than any other book we have ever published. And it did seem to really change the way people thought about church ministry. And also in some ways changed the language. They started referring to trellis work and vine work. And so I think it had quite a big impact, and is still having that impact I think. But in terms of me personally the book which I think back and think it really helped me a lot and resonated with me was a book called Keep the Faith by Martin Ayers. It's a book about doubt and how we deal with doubts in the Christian life. Even though I wasn't particularly struggling with doubt at the time when I read it, I still found it a really helpful book and a helpful framework for the way to deal with those doubts. And I've recommended it to lots of people since then.

Marty: That's 30 years looking back. Now going forward what do you hope for Matthias Media?

Ian: I guess in many ways more of the same. There is new technology that presents us with lots of opportunities; so I want to make use of that. But more of the same in terms of encouraging and exhorting churches and Christians to keep persevering in that disciple making ministry. To keep thinking about people and how to progress them in their growth towards maturity in Christ. That's our goal. And we also want to produce resources that help those churches and Christians to do that work. That's our main goal. I guess my other hope is that our Christian ministry friends will continue supporting us as a ministry. It would be much easier financially for us to publish resources that are appealing to the itching ears of people, as Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 4. It is much harder to keep persevering in producing biblically faithful resources — resources that do the sort of ministry that we are trying to do as a publishing house. 

Marty: Yeah, so going forward I think you could support us in three ways. First of all, as Ian mentioned, you can pray for us. Pray that we keep going, not just so that we survive, pray that we keep going in a faithful way: faithful to the Bible and faithful to the mission that we have to produce high-quality, helpful, accessible resources to build up disciple-making disciples. So that you can be equipped to go out and make disciples of our great king Jesus. Second, you could support our Gotherefor.com fund [see below] – equipping and giving access to these resources around the world for pastors. They can get immediate online access through Gotherefor.com. And a donation towards that underwrites them for that access. And third, you could keep in touch with us and use our resources. We love it when people order direct from us and they call us up to make those orders. Because we love to talk to them; we love to hear how these people, these churches, these pastors are using resources. Hearing what Bible study they’re starting. Hearing how they are trying to foster a new evangelistic movement in neighbourhoods. We love to hear which kind of resources they are using. We also love to get feedback on resources or swap ideas from what we've heard from other customers, and give them ideas of how they can use these resources. So call us, talk to us. We'd love to hear from you. And those are some great ways you can help spur us on to keep going towards this mission.