Next year The Gospel Coalition turns 10 years old, and our staff has begun sifting through old notes and videos compiled since our Council first met on May 17, 2005. That first meeting kicked off with Tim Keller teaching from Luke 5:12-13 as he talked about the need for evangelical leaders who would be critical of their culture and yet creative in communicating the gospel to it. Don Carson offered a history of evangelicalism since World War II that observed the relative strengths of today's church, especially with regard to publishing. But he also indentified race relations, homosexuality, and polarization as weaknesses Christians must band together to address with a prophetic voice centered on the gospel.
Anyone who follows our site regularly knows we're still grappling with many of the same challenges. But I'm encouraged while reflecting on 2014 as I consider the many doors God has opened for The Gospel Coalition to resource and equip church leaders around the world. Under the leadership of executive director Ben Peays, we overhauled our website and continue to improve areas such as our resource database so you can easily browse TGC conference messages and sermons from our Council members, among others. That database will be home to an interview series we're launching in 2015 to help teachers understand and share the gospel from various books of the Bible.
This year our Council met in May for a private meeting on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where we discussed and debated how to stay tethered to the gospel when our culture makes it harder to stand firm on the truth of God's Word. We shifted south to Orlando the next month for our second women's conference, always a blessed event because thousands of women come eager to hear God's Word taught with hopes of gospel transformation. At the conference we released our two newest women's group studies: one on Nehemiah by Kathleen Nielson that also features video teaching from Carson and Nancy Guthrie, and another from Jen Wilkin on the Sermon on the Mount. At the end of the year we published Praying with Paul, a study guide for A Call to Spiritual Reformation, by Carson and Brian Tabb. Next year Tabb, also our managing editor for the journal Themelios, will have a study with John Piper that we'll release in time for our 2015 National Conference in Orlando.
We know not everyone in your church will take time to visit our site; that's why we're putting these printed and video resources in your hands to share in churchwide small group and Sunday school settings. Next year we'll release the first two group studies with The Good Book Company to explore the five points of gospel-centered ministry from our Theological Vision of Ministry. Jared Wilson kicks off the series with Gospel-Shaped Worship, and Erik Raymond follows with Gospel-Shaped Outreach. If you're partial toward books we have you covered there as well. In the Cultural Renewal Series I edit with Tim Keller, we published two books by regular TGC contributors: Greg Forster on Joy for the World and Mike Cosper on The Stories We Tell. Next year I'll follow with Blind Spots on how to become a courageous, compassionate, and commissioned church.
With every passing year TGC leaders grow more aware of our responsibility to care for global church leaders asking us for help. TGC International Outreach raised $165,000 in funds for 15 Theological Famine Relief projects in 2014 and sent 90,000 free resources to 77 countries through the Packing Hope program. In nine years, International Outreach has distributed more than half a million resources around the world. Our Spanish site, Coalición por el Evangelio, exploded with growth in 2014 under the exceptional leadership of Jairo Namnún with support from Southern Seminary. Comparing November in 2013 and 2014, the site grew by an astounding 1,300 percent. For next year in Orlando we've planned our first-ever Spanish preconference. TGC Australia gathered for the first time in 2014; their own website with an Australia-based editorial effort is coming in 2015.
According to Carson, events this year in Japan and Geneva were particuluarly blessed by God. But so was a TGC regional event in Hawaii where Carson spoke with Piper and Michael Oh. Among many other regional conferences, New England stood out as Christians gathered amid rumors of serious impending restrictions on religious liberty. And Bay Area believers were hardly daunted by ministry challenges in their region as we prayed together with faith for God to revive his church.
In all these various efforts, our goals at TGC remain the same after nearly 10 years: to raise up a generation of Christian leaders orthodox in our theology, passionate in our affections for Jesus, and compelling in our appeal to unbelievers.
My 10 Favorite Resources
Perhaps my greatest privilege as editorial director of TGC is taking a daily big-picture look at the various resources we're publishing at the site. I benefit from working with exceptional editors and humble writers who consider first how they can honor God and second how they can serve you, our readers, with relevant content. So far this year we've reached almost 12.4 million readers with more than 42 million pageviews. This response affirms us, but it's not the primary metric by which we judge success. From TGC's foundation documents we pray that God would work in and through us to accomplish this aim: “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.”
Judging by that criteria, I have compiled a list of my 10 favorite 2014 resources. Please join me in giving thanks to God for how he always provides for us in a timely fashion with timeless wisdom.
By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
This article idea came from a friend's tip. He indicated the Harris brothers, authors of the widely influential book Do Hard Things, were following through on their admonition—only in very different ways. As the “radical” debates continue with books published on the cost of discipleship, Alex and Brett reveal that even though God issues the same call to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, how we do so depends on gifting and circumstances.
By Elizabeth (Sims) Munn
Maybe you need to live in the Deep South to understand the full implications of this courageous act. And I'm not primarily talking about residual racism. The social power wielded by fraternities and sororities and pull of the status quo make it difficult to buck a system that nearly everyone agrees needs to change. But the system didn't change until Sims stood up for Christ and said no more to back room deals that kept African Americans out of white sororities.
By Jay Sklar
This year we hired two new editors with experience in pastoral ministry and theological education. It will always be The Gospel Coalition's highest priority to encourage gospel-centered biblical teaching in local churches. Sklar served tens of thousands of readers by showing how the much-maligned book of Leviticus inspires Christians to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
By Don Carson and Tim Keller
Our spiritual leaders don't start out that way. They develop over time as they experience God's grace in new and fresh ways. Carson and Keller might not have been inspired to start The Gospel Coalition almost 10 years ago unless they had seen God work in power, both personally and in churches they led. Sharing stories of God's miraculous work tends to prompt others to ask God for a similar blessing in their own devotional life and public ministry.
Review by Michael J. Kruger
Reviewing bad books may not be fun, but it is necessary. The right reviewer knows where and how to poke holes in an author's presentations when many readers don't know any better. That's why I'm thankful that such gifted scholars as Kruger take the time to read and critique misleading books. So long as publishers continue to push books they know will attract a lot of attention for rejecting biblical teaching, we'll continue to need teachers who take the opportunity to shore up any historical and theological weaknesses they expose.
By Evan Burns
They say ignorance is bliss, but not for the missionary. Youthful enthusiasm will only take you so far, and if it's all you take with you to the mission field, you might as well book a one-way flight home. Veteran missionary Evan Burns shared the two key pieces of advice he would share with every missionary candidate. None of what he says out to be exclusive for missionary candidates, either. Any believer looking to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples needs the same challenge. Likewise, this article from missionary Stacy Hare addresses a problem that seems unique to missionaries but actually applies to all of us hoping to lead our children to follow Christ.
George Whitefield's 300th Commemoration and Curriculum: Remembering the Key Evangelist of the Great Awakening
By Thomas S. Kidd
We can still read and personally benefit from the spiritual insight of Jonathan Edwards. I suspect that's the main reason he's far more famous today than his contemporary George Whitefield, even though Whitefield reached far larger crowds in the mid-18th century. Thomas Kidd should be commended for employing his scholarly gifts to show us what we can learn today from perhaps the most accomplished orator in evangelical history.
By Paige Brown
Paige Brown is always one of the most popular speakers at The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference. You'll see her evident teaching gift in this video as she combines remarkable biblical insight with high energy, effective humor, and relatable illustrations. She doesn't speak very often, so we're grateful Paige shares her gift with women at TGC events.
By Bethany Jenkins
This summer we went to the movies. Working with Acton Institute, TGC's Every Square Inch offered free 72-hour rentals for all seven episodes of this wonderful resource that seek to answer the question, “What is our salvation for?” We hope you'll share this series in your small groups and Sunday school classes to help believers see how the same gospel that provides personal salvation also equips them as exiles in this world to nevertheless seek the common good.
By Fabienne Harford
With that kind of title I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that this article counted among our top reader choices for 2014. But this is no mere clickbait. Fabienne Harford directs all of us—male and female, single and married—to seek God alone to satisfy our deepest hungers.
Virtually anything we publish at TGC on sex, singleness, and relationships gets a strong readership. That's why I'm grateful so many writers share their gospel-centered perspectives with us. Jen Wilkin used characteristic wit to explain how Christian parents should intimidate their daughters' suitors. Derek Rishmawy offered some surprising dating advice you actually need. And Betsy Childs reflected on whether she should be content in her singleness. In 2015 I'll be especially eager to share with you the next chapter in Betsy's story.
Our writers and editors at TGC thank God for the opportunity to serve you with these resources, and we greatly appreciate your prayers and partnership. As you consider year-end giving, we would be honored if you helped promote gospel-centered ministry for the next decade by becoming a Friend of TGC.