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Editor’s Choice: The Best of 2018

We knew this year would be busy for The Gospel Coalition with three major public conferences and our biennial Council meeting. We hosted our largest women’s conference and first West Coast conference. The MLK50 conference was the most-watched in TGC history. Probably no event I’ve ever helped to plan involved so high a risk and delivered so high a reward as MLK50, by God’s grace alone.

For the long term, maybe the greatest legacy of 2018 for TGC will be the launch of several new independent coalitions, websites, and translation pages around the world. This year alone our partners started independent, locally governed TGC outposts in Brazil, Italy, Africa, and Korea, and began publishing in the Chinese and Arabic languages. They join our existing sites for Australia, Canada, Francophone Europe, and Farsi speakers. International cities continue to contribute some of the most readers of TGC.org: London (#7 overall), Lagos (#8), Bogota (#10), Sydney (#11), Santiago (#12), and Guatemala City (#14). Nearly 20 percent of our overall site traffic from more than 21 million readers comes in search of Spanish-language content.

While planning events and helping launch international sites, out editors wrote, edited, and acquired eight books and two curricula, the most we’ve ever published in a single year.

In this annual column, I look back on the Lord’s kindness from the last year, and also celebrate the best of more than 1,000 resources planned, produced, and published by our editorial staff and columnists in 2018. It’s not exhaustive, but it reflects exhausting efforts to serve church leaders in shaping their life, doctrine, and teaching. As explained in The Gospel Coalition’s foundation documents, we pray that God would work in and through us “to renew the contemporary church in the ancient gospel of Christ so that we truly speak and live for him in a way that clearly communicates to our age.”

Thank you for reading in 2018, and especially for carrying the hope of the gospel into every corner of the world and in all of life, from church to work to family.

Where to Find Hope and Help amid the Sexual Revolution

By Sam Allberry

No one has produced a better brief overview of the sexual revolution and a proper Christian response. This article, or the audio version, needs to be widely distributed in your church.

We Shall Overcome

By Charlie Dates

I have never experienced a more intense sermon. And I was sitting in the second row. He raises questions and concerns that must be answered and addressed.

First Reformed: 2018’s Most Thought-Provoking Film So Far

Review by Brett McCracken

This is the review TGC senior editor Brett McCracken was born to write. He plumbs the depths of meaning in this tale of two churches for our dark and disturbing moment.

Ask and You Shall Evangelize

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

This feature took months to research and write. And you’ll be occupied for many more months if you pick up some of the excellent books included in this profile of changes in apologetic approaches for a secular age.

It’s Time to Reckon with Celebrity Power

By Andy Crouch

If the fall of Bill Hybels doesn’t provoke this reckoning, then I don’t know what will. We weren’t created or redeemed for such acclaim and responsibility.

How Your Church Can Respond to the Loneliness Epidemic

By Jeremy Linneman

Americans are lonelier than ever before. Yet opportunities for social connection have exponentially increased. There’s wisdom for today in God’s familial vision for the local church.

Your Teenager Needs Discipleship

By Melissa Kruger and Jen Wilkin

You know it must’ve been a good TGCW18 workshop if it made parenting teenagers look appealing. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from two of my favorite teachers and writers.

Why We (Sometimes) Need Harsh Polemical Theology

By Joe Carter

There’s a time and place for collegiality. But sometimes the sheep must be warned of danger if they stray from safety.

The Esther Option

By Mike Cosper

Once you’ve read the essay, pick up the book. It’s one of the most insightful, timely, and enjoyable reads of 2018.

‘An Unlikely Ally’: What a Secular Atheist Is Teaching Christian Leaders

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

You might wonder why Christian college presidents would turn to Jonathan Haidt for insight and direction. But Christians have long seen how his writing resonates with a biblical sense for the power of intuition in moral formation.

Give Your Children All of Your Attention. Some of the Time.

By Harriet Connor

It’s such simple advice. But it brought me tremendous relief. I needed to be reminded that there are legitimate and important reasons to take my focus off my children.

Are Some Determined to Believe the Worst About Reformed Theology?

Review by Don Carson

I learned the biblical basis from compatibilism from Carson, so it’s probably no surprise I’d agree with his critique of John Lennox. Someone needed to expose the reductionist arguments of the famous mathematician.

8 Works of Fiction Every Christian Should Read

By Karen Swallow Prior

Prior’s book On Reading Well was one of my favorites from 2018, and this distills some of her most beneficial insights. I love such lists from readers I trust.

Tim Keller’s Witness at the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast

By John Stevens

No one can better show us how to commend the gospel to the political and cultural elites in our post-Christian, secular, and progressive liberal contexts. I’m grateful to God that Keller was afforded this highly unusual honor to speak as an evangelical to the upper echelons of the British establishment.

You Want a God of Judgment

By Derek Rishmawy

We’re often told our skeptical neighbors reject the notion of an angry God who judges sin. We imagine our age won’t abide a God of wrath. But Rishmawy shows how we rage against injustice and plead for someone who will make things right.

Why Indianapolis Megachurch Members Are Joining God in the ‘Swamp’

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

Probably no megachurch encourages me more than College Park Church in Indianapolis. This feature article shows one major reason why. It’s not easy to mobilize a wealthy suburban church to engage in urban ministry the right way.

Hating ‘Them’ Is Easy. How Can Americans Live Together in Peace?

Review by Matthew Lee Anderson

Sen. Ben Sasse gave us one of the best books of 2018. And yet I still appreciated Anderson’s critique and call for churches to play their part in renewing America’s civic life.

‘Listen and Live’: The Story Behind a New Short Film

By Quina Aragon

I was blown away by this short film for the Deuteronomy theme of TGCW18. The setting is simply stunning, and the music by Aragon is so catchy my 3-year-old son could single along after only one viewing in the debut audience of 8,000.

Jonathan Haidt on the Coddling of the American Mind

Interview by Collin Hansen

In my favorite interview of the year, Haidt showed his characteristic charity and curiosity in asking me how Christians can address the lie that adult students must be protected from ideas. We need all the allies we can recruit in the fight to keep campuses open to “dangerous” ideas like the gospel that tells us we’re sinners who can only find grace and forgiveness in God through Christ.

The Unexpected Friendship That Prepared Me for Ministry

By David Doran Jr.

We don’t clean up our act to make ourselves acceptable to God. He saves us in the mess of our sin. Grace makes us gracious toward those who don’t have everything put together. And reveals where we don’t, either.

Jen Hatmaker and the Power of De-Conversion Stories

By Michael Kruger

Kruger tracks one of the most discouraging developments of our time. De-conversion stories aren’t intended to evangelize the lost but to convince Christians that their outdated beliefs should be abandoned. His five steps have been repeated time and again in efforts to undermine orthodoxy. Learn them so you can refute their proprietors.

Two Pastoral Thoughts on Justification and Sanctification

By Justin Dillehay

Maybe the debate of a few years ago has died down, but as evangelicals we’ll always need to stress the proper biblical relationship between justification and sanctification. Dillehay’s illustration of Hamilton and Jefferson offers a useful grid for evaluating our tendencies.

6 Ways to Ruin Your Children

By Jeff Robinson

Isn’t that every parent’s fear? All of us parents are sinful and flawed. So it’s a good thing the Lord uses feeble if sincere efforts to introduce our children to Jesus.

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