Small Town Pastors See More Than Small Wonders

Rural ministry is experiencing a resurgence in the US even as economic and demographic numbers continue their decline. These days, living in small-town America often means living with less. 2018 marked another year of decline in many rural and small towns: economies suffering; local residents aging or moving away; and many struggling with addiction, disillusionment, or depression. But just as the nation declares a crisis in small communities, the church has seen new momentum around rural... Read More

Interview: How Universalism, ‘the Opiate of the Theologians,’ Went Mainstream

Michael McClymond decries the rising popularity of an idea Christians have rejected for most of church history. Rob Bell made a splash in 2011 with the release of Love Wins, a book that challenged settled Christian understandings of heaven, hell, and divine judgment. But as many critics pointed out in response, Bell’s musings about universal salvation relied on arguments that have been advanced—and mostly condemned—throughout church history. What explains the recent... Read More

How Secularity Will Advance the Gospel of the Kingdom

Religious pluralism has provided space for the Gospel to be heard. Things aren’t always as they appear. The rose-colored glasses with which we look at our religious past often artificially and inappropriately distorts our perspective on our future. As the great philosopher Billy Joel once quipped, “The good ol’ days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” Our fears of tomorrow often stem from a longing to retreat back to the familiar... Read More

One-on-One with Charles Stone on ‘Holy Noticing’

A conversation about Christian mindfulness. Ed: What led you to discover mindfulness? Charles: My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 1. Through the first 25 years of her life she had a dozen brain surgeries, two devices implanted into and taken out of her body, and had part of her brain removed. I saw the effects of something wrong with the human brain. Although I had been a Christian for decades, I still greatly struggled with anxiety and worry. Even though I... Read More

Are We the Ultraviolet Light of the World? Or the X-Rays?

An astronomer ponders one of Jesus’ most memorable sayings. When Jesus defined himself as “the light of the world,” listeners probably associated those words with common objects well known to them: the hot sun of Judea, the stars twinkling in the sky, the moon shining during the night, torches they carried on the roads, small oil lamps used in their houses, or bonfires lit when camping on a long trip. In our current age, we associate the light with many other things: the... Read More

My Cocaine Habit Was Killing My NFL Dreams

How I found a power greater than the white powder that enslaved me. Don’t put the powder in your nose,” I said as I looked in the mirror. “Don’t do it.” I was sure I could talk myself out of snorting cocaine one more time. My words sounded so real, so genuine. But just like that, I saw my image disappear from the mirror as I bent down and took another hit off the table. It was an awful high. The chemicals of the cocaine laced through my body at the same time... Read More

This Fantasy Novelist Showed Me What It Means to Fear God

How Lois McMaster Bujold’s Hugo Award–winning stories depict reverence in the face of divine mystery. The fear of the Lord,” says Proverbs 1:7, “is the beginning of knowledge.” Indeed, God’s scriptural appearances are often terrifying. Moses sees only God’s cloaked back and is nearly undone by the sight (Ex. 34:4–8). Isaiah sees God’s throne room, complete with disturbingly inhuman angelic creatures, and is devastated by the gap between his... Read More

One-on-One with Juan Martinez on the Faith of Latino Emerging Adults

“Young Latino transnational believers in Christ have the relational life skills necessary to be transcultural missionaries and intercultural leaders.” Ed: How would you describe the state of Christianity and the church among emerging adults—18 to 29-year-olds—today? What are their biggest questions, concerns, or motivations? Juan: There are several good studies about the religious perspectives of millennials in the U.S. I would point to them as good places to answer these... Read More

Florida’s Oldest Place to Grow Old

Dowling Park was a retirement community built around widows and orphans. A century later, it’s a model for intergenerational ministry. Charles Moore says he must have heard about Florida’s first retirement community when he was in the cradle in the late 1930s. His father loved reading the Present Truth Messenger, a newspaper of the Advent Christian Church—especially the back-page “Old Folks at Home” section that offered updates about the denomination’s... Read More

The Church Growth Gap: The Big Get Bigger While the Small Get Smaller

The US congregations most likely to grow are the 10 percent that already have more than 250 worshipers. In many congregations in the United States, new faces in the pews have become rare. A new study from Exponential by LifeWay Research found 6 in 10 Protestant churches are plateaued or declining in attendance and more than half saw fewer than 10 people become new Christians in the past 12 months. “Growth is not absent from American churches,” said Scott McConnell, executive... Read More