Black Americans Who Leave Church Don’t Go Far

How their disaffiliation stands to have a bigger impact on their communities and why leaders are hopeful they’ll come back. Black Americans are the most religious non-religious group in the country. In a new Pew Research Center report on the growing segment of unaffiliated “nones” in the US, they stand out for their faithfulness. Nearly all Black nones believe in a higher power, and a third still believe in the God of the Bible. Barely any consider themselves atheists. Even... Read More

Can Self-Help Books Really Help?

Self-help books are wildly popular, including among Christians. But can they keep their promise to improve us? Heaven helps those who help themselves.” So opens Samuel Smiles’ 1859 book Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct—an appropriately self-published work that birthed the modern genre. Today, more than 10 million self-help books are sold annually, with topics ranging from time management to pop psychology to discovering one’s true calling.... Read More

Try to Talk Before You Go

Cutting off “toxic” people is social media’s go-to mental health advice. But Jesus commands us to seek conversation and reconciliation. Toxic. Abusive. Oppressive. Unhealthy. I’d never heard those words used so often as I have in the last four years. At times, it has seemed like everyone I know is deciding to handle conflict with friends, colleagues, and churches by deciding to leave. Maybe some of this is a generational shift as younger generations embrace the idea of... Read More

Why Evangelicals Aren’t Afraid of Being Outnumbered by Nones

Church leaders believe Christ still offers the answers that the religiously unaffiliated are looking for, even if religious baggage is driving them away. With 28 percent of Americans saying they don’t belong to a religious tradition, the “nones” now outnumber any single faith group in the US, according to a Pew Research Center study released last month. Their retreat from church, Pew polling shows, is fueled not only by secular disbelief but also by negative perceptions... Read More

As More Americans Leave the Church, Evangelicals Recenter Their Message

Leaders believe Christ still offers the answers that growing numbers of “nones” are looking for, even if religious baggage is driving them away. With 28 percent of Americans saying they don’t belong to a religious tradition, the “nones” now outnumber any single faith group in the US, according to a Pew Research Center study released last month. Their retreat from church, Pew polling shows, is fueled not only by secular disbelief but also by negative perceptions of... Read More

Are the Prayers of Righteous Fans Powerful and Effective?

Ministry leaders—and football fanatics—weigh in on the divine’s role in sports. Few saw a third African Cup of Nations title in reach for Côte d'Ivoire’s men’s national football (soccer) team when they fired their coach at the beginning of the tournament. Or when they failed to land their desired next coach. Or when they were the last team that advanced out of the group round. But somewhere along the way, as the team surmounted these setbacks and won... Read More

How the Church Can Help Black Women Heal

Being a “strong Black woman” was my badge of honor, until it almost killed me. There are many issues of pressing concern for Black Christians in America, such as ensuring Black lives matter in our churches, reaching Black youth with the gospel, discipling the next generation of Black church leaders, battling white Christian nationalism, and identifying ways the church can address the impact of racial disparities in our country. But a concern in my own life as a Black Christian woman is... Read More

My Students Are Reading John Mark Comer, and Now I Know Why

The popular pastor’s latest works inhabit a fruitful tension between inheriting church tradition and rebuilding it for today’s world. I’ll begin with a confession: I was once very skeptical of John Mark Comer. From afar, he seemed like one more polished celebrity pastor turned speaker turned writer, with slick content designed to evoke the Rob Bell aesthetic of yore—and for that reason, to annoy people like me. By “people like me,” most charitably, I mean... Read More

The Glory of Weightiness

When life is too much to bear, our need for a savior becomes clear Have you heard the cliché Christian saying that goes, “God won’t give you more than you can handle”? It’s not that there isn’t some truth to this aphorism. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” But it is misguided insofar as it places the emphasis on what we can manage— through our own strength and... Read More

The Reflexive Response of Grace

How Jesus reconditions our life even after we fail him At the turn of the 20th century, a Russian physician named Ivan Pavlov won a Nobel Prize. Dogs naturally salivate at the smell of food, but Pavlov wanted to see if he could cause salivation with another stimulus. As you probably remember from a high school science class, Pavlov rang a bell before feeding the dogs. Eventually, the ringing bell caused the dogs to salivate. Pavlov referred to this as a conditioned reflex. To one degree or... Read More