God Will Not Speak to You Through Skywriting

Our desperate pleas for a clear sign from the heavens may be answered already. We’ve all said it, either out loud or in our heads: “If God would just tell me what to do, I would do it!” We want to follow God’s will, and when we’re facing a big decision, it does seem that an audible command from God—or even an emphatic hint of some sort—would be extremely helpful, not to mention efficient. When the way forward seems opaque, we begin to ask why the... Read More

Unleashing the Gift of Evangelism in 2020

What is central to Jesus’ mission for us has become secondary to many Christians. Evangelism. Evangelist. Evangelize. Who knew that a word with an etymology relating to good news could become such bad news in our world? We all know that evangelism has fallen on hard times. What is central to Jesus’ mission for us has become secondary to many Christians. Not only does this one word evoke strong emotion (on either side), but it has become increasingly polarizing among... Read More

Revitalization, Part Three

Leadership in Church Revitalization In Parts One and Two, I talked about renewal movements that can help with revitalization and the importance of keeping an evangelistic focus. While these are true, here I articulate what cannot be ignored in church revitalization. Years ago, one of our research projects involved a study of churches that were successful in revitalization. Mike Dodson and I wrote a book called Comeback Churches to describe what we learned. As we wrote the book, I didn't... Read More

Even for Christians, Trump Has Become a Dating Deal-Breaker

More American couples set out to be “equally yoked” on political matters too. True love waits … for a political match? Half or more of white evangelicals say it would be impossible or very difficult to date someone with another view on abortion, religious freedom, or gun rights—their top dating deal-breakers, according to a new survey from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The poll also found that most Americans—and most Christians across traditions—would... Read More

My Husband Is Deconstructing His Faith. How Do I Journey with Him?

This Valentine’s Day, some of us are called to love unbelieving wives and husbands. In the fall of 2017, not long after we’d celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, my husband and I sat down for an evening chat after getting the kids to bed. The particulars of the conversation are hazy now, but this was clear: After 30 years of being a Christian and spending almost half of that in ministry, my husband was leaving the faith. The faith that formed our marriage vows; the faith our... Read More

Revitalization, Part Two

When Renewal Isn’t Enough In Part One, I talked about the types of renewal movements that can help revitalization. They can help, but they don’t always actually help. There’s an ingredient that has to be part of a renewal movement for it to move a church forward in revitalization: the renewal must lead to a renewed focus on reaching people. For years, Rick Warren said, "It's not about church growth, it's about church health." He’s right. But understand... Read More

What Bill Maher, Donald Miller, and John Piper Have in Common

In different ways, God used them to lead me to Christ. I was a typical American kid, until I wasn’t. In high school, life revolved around sports and popularity. Then, after high school, I took a scholarship to play baseball at Virginia Commonwealth University. By the end of college, most people were ready to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. Not me. My life got further out of control with each passing year. The weekend parties of my freshman year became weeklong parties by my... Read More

Willow Creek and Harvest Struggle to Move On

The departures of Bill Hybels and James MacDonald leave churches waiting for new leadership and hoping to rebuild trust. It’s been 22 months since Bill Hybels resigned from Willow Creek Community Church, and the Chicago-area megachurch—one of the biggest in the country—is still without a senior pastor. The multisite congregation, once celebrated as a model and training ground for Christian leaders, has struggled to transition to steady leadership in the... Read More

Church Revitalization, Part One

Renewal Movements and Church Revitalization One doesn’t have to be a missiologist to recognize the need for many churches to experience revitalization. One of the more powerful ways to experience church revitalization is through a renewal movement. Study the great awakenings and you will see stories of revitalization birthed in the midst of revival. Jonathan Edwards’ church at Northampton is a well-known example, but there are thousands of stories from history of churches being... Read More

Christians in the Age of Callout Culture

How Christians lost the benefit of the doubt—and why we need to find the good in each other again. I used to get excited to see my Twitter mentions spike. Now I dread it. All that attention inevitably means I’m getting called out for something wrong—maybe a typo or broken link, maybe a bad joke or hasty observation. Posting on social media has always risked irking angry employers, incessant trolls, or vengeful doxxers, but lately we face backlash from our own friends and... Read More