One-on-One with Stephen Witmer on ‘A Big Gospel in Small Places’

My conversation with Stephen Witmer in the importance of serving in small town places. Ed: Why did you write A Big Gospel in Small Places? Stephen: I wrote this book because I believe the gospel is really big in terms of its importance, power, effects, and centrality, and because I’m very eager for that big gospel to have its full impact in small places. By small places, I mean communities that are lacking in cultural and economic influence, small towns and rural areas (and perhaps... Read More

One-on-One with Warren Smith on MinistryWatch, Accountability, and the Need for Christian Journalism

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That sentence also describes American journalism today.  Today I am glad to welcome Warren Smith to The Exchange. Warren is president of MinistryWatch. Here we talk about the ministry and why it is needed today. Ed: What is MinistryWatch? Warren: MinistryWatch is an independent advocate for donors to Christian charity. We’re 20 years old and maintain a database of financial statements and analysis of the 500 largest Christian... Read More

Black Pastor Candidate Withdraws After Controversial Vote at SBC Megachurch

First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida, continues to investigate whether Marcus Hayes’ rejection was the result of racial prejudice or preexisting turmoil following its previous pastor’s departure. A black Southern Baptist minister has withdrawn his name from further consideration at the Florida megachurch that failed last month to achieve the supermajority vote required to call him as pastor, sparking accusations of racism from within and outside the congregation. First Baptist Church... Read More

Scripture and Neuroscience Agree: It Helps to Lament in Community

Through song, liturgy, and communion, the body of Christ inhabits the suffering experienced by its weakest members. Recently, I awoke suddenly around 1:45am in a tangle of sheets, pillows, and sweat, my body fitfully grasping for peace in the presence of pain. I had just made a medication shift the day before, and after over a decade of living with Ankylosing Spondylitis, I knew my joints were demanding attention and deserving of care. When one part of the body is inflamed, the body needs... Read More

Why Black Protestants and Evangelicals Still Preach Politics

Amid increasing polarization and shifting church trends, the black church continues to speak out on matters of justice. Hundreds gathered in a Chicago sanctuary last night to hear Christian leaders calling on believers to engage the political process and advocate for their convictions in the election year ahead. The Faith and Politics Rally was organized by the And Campaign, a nonpartisan group that says Christians have a “particular obligation” to provide moral leadership and... Read More

Six Ways Pastors Struggle: You Are Not Alone

Pretending pastors don’t struggle is a recipe for disaster. When pastors go into ministry, we don't leave behind all of the struggles that define the human reality in which we live. Like others, we struggle with any number of things each day—interpersonal relationships, our marriages, as parents, with our health, with our self image. And for some pastors, our struggles can go in one of two directions—either we hide them and try to deal with them in isolation, or we... Read More

Interview: The Faith Behind the Crown

Queen Elizabeth’s belief is deep and sincere, says biographer Dudley Delffs, and Netflix gets it right. When Season 3 of Netflix’s The Crown releases on November 17, viewers can expect plenty of changes as new actors tackle the lead roles and ferry the royal family through the tumultuous waters of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But they might also expect a reprisal of past scenes, including Queen Elizabeth kneeling beside her bed and praying. That practice “has been verified... Read More

Church Leaders: A Work in Progress

If we see ourselves as the director of the work, we will become vulnerable to the weight of ministry. Earlier this year, my family moved to Wheaton, IL. As we familiarized ourselves with the town, it became apparent that the roads are a work in progress. Throughout the town, road construction was being done. We’ve said multiple times over the last month or so, “We’ll be glad when they get done!” As you know, sometimes road work can be an inconvenience. If it lingers... Read More

The ‘Self-Actualizing’ Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard

How the Danish philosopher takes an idea that’s congenial to modern ears and turns it upside down. Protestants don’t have saints. Or at least we claim we don’t. But if we consulted our eyes, fingers, and hearts, they would tell us otherwise. Perhaps we don’t own up to having saints because we worry it might impugn our identity, which is often anchored in the notion that we are those who resist and protest the ways of our elder brothers and sisters in Rome. But no matter... Read More

One-on-One with Bryan Jarrett on Resourcing Rural America, Part 2

Pastor Bryan Jarrett and his team have created a safe space for children who have been victims of sexual exploitation. Ed: Tell me about your camp and your program for children. Bryan: I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. For years, when I first started ministry almost 30 years ago, I did a lot of youth ministry and as I began to heal, I began to feel the freedom to talk about it. I say this all the time: rodents and roaches play in the dark, and when the lights come on, they all go... Read More