Scott Bolinder ’73

Words: Grant Dutro ’25
Photos: Jill Devries

Scott Bolinder ’73

Following his 50th class reunion in 2023, Scott Bolinder ’73 found himself contemplating Wheaton’s motto: “For Christ and His Kingdom.”

“Now that I’m almost 73, looking in the rearview mirror at my own spiritual journey, it’s becoming clearer what those modifiers mean,” he said. “Even 20 years ago, I had only understood part of that, and it was more like ‘with Christ for my kingdom.’”

Bolinder grew up five blocks north of Fischer Hall, attending HoneyRock as a camper and staff during summers. His parents often had the basketball team over for dinner, and Bolinder remembers selling popcorn at the team’s home games. Bolinder also comes from a long line of Wheaton alumni, including aunts, uncles, and cousins.

After graduating from Wheaton, Bolinder earned his MSW in clinical counseling from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Chicago, at the encouragement of Dr. Art Volle ’38. He served in the Army Medical Service Corps in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before relocating back to Wheaton with his young family with the goal of welcoming college students into their home.

Soon, Bolinder began working for his friend and Christian author Philip Yancey M.A. ’72, on staff at Campus Life magazine (later bought by Christianity Today). This role launched him into over 40 years in Christian publishing, including executive roles at Zondervan and Biblica.

This career pivot was a serendipitous combination of the skills he had already begun developing as a Wheaton student.

“As an English major, I studied words and the power of words,” said Bolinder. “Then I got a master’s in counseling, in which I studied people. That combination—words and people—equips you well for the relational bedrock of publishing.”

He calls what happened next “the culmination of my vocational career.” He faced a crisis of conscience when he saw the steep decline of Bible readership and engagement in the United States.

“We spent all these years publishing Bibles and Christian books, and every year, more Bibles are sold than any other book,” said Bolinder. “But the dirty secret was, if you looked underneath the hood, nobody was reading the Bibles.”

This conviction inspired him and three Biblica colleagues to found the Institute for Bible Reading in 2016, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing Bible engagement. In 2022, its signature resource, Immerse: The Reading Bible, was named the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s “Bible of the Year.” In December 2023, the Institute merged with Our Daily Bread Ministries to scale the global growth of its new Bible reading formats and study practices.

“In some ways, everything prior was preparation for this small, ‘mustard-seed conspiracy’ nonprofit,” said Bolinder, referencing the 1981 book by Tom Sine. “Once invited to a fresh experience with the Bible, folks come alive, and we see their curiosity and imagination expand, which fuels Bible engagement.”

Amid these vocational transitions, Bolinder cites Dr. Marvin Mayers ’49 as one of many Wheaton professors who prepared him for a life lived “For Christ and His Kingdom.”

“He helped me see it’s not just about eternal security, checking the box and then going on with your life, but about agreeing to enter the suffering of Christ every week,” said Bolinder. “The Creator invites us to conform to his image, giving us an example in Jesus. And I thought, ‘Well, that is an adventure worth living for.’”