The state of the church today is a matter of perspective. It’s easy to find evidence of decline. We’re bombarded by false hopes that deceive Christians and divide the church. We need a digital reformation that will shine the light of the gospel, in all its truth and beauty, on all of life.
Just bemoaning these trends, though, won’t make much difference. It’s time for Christians to go on the offensive. And that’s what The Gospel Coalition has done in 2019 with our emphasis on evangelism, including this year’s national conference. Working with Crossway we published the award-winning Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin. We also published the thought-provoking Evangelism as Exiles by Elliot Clark, because a church in exile doesn’t need to be a church in retreat. We designed Lost and Found: How Jesus Helped Us Discover Our True Selves, featuring contributions from Joni Eareckson Tada and Sam Allberry among many others, so your unbelieving friends could see how we find our life when we lose our life, for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. We’ve already seen enthusiastic response to our new video series One Minute Apologetics.
In the past God has often used famous evangelists and innovative programs to spread the gospel. And he might do so again. But we’re more inclined to think he’ll use churches with a culture of evangelism, where you can’t help but tell others about why you love Jesus. Even in this secular age, wandering souls are finding their way home.
God is raising up a new generation of gospel-centered churches. This year at TGC we have sought to connect you with these churches and with resources so you can join in this movement. Thank you for reading and sharing and—above all—telling others how to find hope and peace in Jesus.
By Sam Allberry
This is the next pressing issue our churches must face. For far too long we’ve tolerated this kind of leadership that should plainly disqualify pastors by several standards in Titus 1:7–8. Why do we think it’s okay for pastors to abuse their members and fellow leaders so long as they don’t steal money or have sex outside marriage?
Interview by Collin Hansen with Costi Hinn
In nearly a decade of The Gospel Coalition Podcast, Hinn might be the most articulate and compelling guest we’ve ever featured. If you care about the poor and powerless, then you should care about stopping the spread of the prosperity gospel. “I want people to see that the prosperity gospel is damning and abusive,” Hinn says. “It exploits the poor and ruins the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
At any given time we can barely understand God’s purposes. Who would have thought that while The Falls Church lost its high-profile battle to keep its property, the church’s gospel witness would flourish in planting church after church?
By Fred Sanders
Live the kind of life that makes someone like Fred Sanders want to write this kind of tribute. And learn to distinguish between the kinds of things that don’t matter in the end (being the smartest person in the room) and the things that do (trusting God in humility).
By Trevin Wax
If you want to become popular, you need to become hated. Just pick a side, blame everything on the other side, and watch your profile grow. That seems to be the preferred path to prominence for many Christian leaders today. It’s not the way of Jesus, though, and it’s the not the kind of multidirectional leadership we need today.
By Stephen Witmer
Yes, I had to look up “bespoke” in the dictionary. But it’s the perfect term for this message from Witmer, who’s become a champion of small-town ministry. Don’t be distracted by the people who aren’t listening to your sermons; consider the blessing of bringing God’s Word to the 10, 20, or 80 who are.
By Jen Oshman
Somehow the most popular “Christian” book of the year has nothing to do with Jesus. I guess that makes sense, though, in a world where the most popular “Christian” website is run by a cult. The world may call it self-care or self-empowerment. But it’s the same old law that brings death. Choose the way of grace and life instead.
By Reed DePace
I don’t want to give away the ending if you haven’t yet read the article. But the story left me in tears of both kinds: agony for sin, and joy for grace. We must insist the world knows these stories, so we do not make light of sin, and so that we do not lose sight of grace.
By Don Carson and Ligon Duncan
You spend all this time learning what the biblical text means in its context. But now you have to figure out how to explain and apply it to people today! Two especially gifted preachers help the rest of us develop these necessary instincts.
By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
Probably no article we published this year has been more important. You’ll find out what keeps college and university presidents awake at night. Elections matter maybe nowhere today more clearly than when it comes to religious liberty.
Interview by Brett McCracken
When you survey the polls, you can see that younger Christians in the West struggle with aspects of God’s sexual ethic. Yet God continues to woo sinners with grace. Don’t shy away from speaking the truth in love! Trust God to save.
By Philip Jenkins
This is the biggest story that not enough people are talking about. What happens when we stop getting married and stop having kids? Nothing good, and we’ve hardly begun to feel the effects, which include many Christian colleges and universities closing. Jenkins helps us see that religious institutions, which have played such a central role in life transitions, will change in light of this unprecedented change.
By Andrew Wilson
I know it’s not likely that we’ll see many expository series on 2 Chronicles. How can we ensure, then, that we do not overlook the lesser-known counsel of God? Maybe this article will inspire pastors and Sunday school teachers to venture off the well-worn paths. Never before has God’s church been gifted with so many resources to teach the whole counsel of God with knowledge and confidence.
By Joe Carter
You’ve heard the stories of touring bands that make outlandish demands. But what if there’s method to this madness? And what if pastors can learn from this practice? No, not by acting like rock stars. Instead, learn to test your congregation and yourself by preaching difficult texts so you might discern your willingness to follow God together, no matter the cost.
Interview by Collin Hansen with Vermon Pierre
A church that looks like a country club will definitely appeal to some people. Think of it as an aspirational church, the kind of place people want to join in order to make the right kinds of friends and contacts. But to the outside world, it’s not going to look distinct as a church; it’s going to look like a country club. And you don’t need the resurrection of Jesus to start or sustain a country club. In this podcast, Vermon Pierre addresses maybe the most provocative or controversial section of TGC’s Theological Vision for Ministry.
Review by Michael McClymond
Is universalism biblically supported? No. Can you make sound theological or philosophical arguments for it? No, though many have tried, most recently the truculent David Bentley Hart. Universalism is like a cult that eschews sex and childbearing: there’s never any future, though few seem to learn the lesson.
By Michael Niebauer
We’ve never before had so many big churches. And yet we have declining overall church attendance. Coincidence? Maybe not, if we’re mistaking transfer growth from smaller churches to bigger churches as an unqualified win for the kingdom of God.