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Pandemic. Cultural change. Political polarization. Technological disruption. No wonder I always open the Gospelbound podcast about searching for resolute hope in an anxious age—all that was true even before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Mark Sayers doesn’t mince words about these challenges in his new book, A Non-Anxious Presence: How a Changing and Complex World Will Create a Remnant of Renewed Christian Leaders (Moody), but he sees them as a potential prelude to revival. He writes, “We feel the gap between the vision of the church we encounter in Scripture and the reality on the ground. This gives rise to a deep desire for God’s church to be refreshed, empowered, and renewed.”

Revival is no quick fix, however. It’s not a way to avoid hardship and effort. Spiritually renewed leaders need stamina, pain tolerance, and emotional discipline. Early success is one of the worst things that can happen to them. Leaders in an ever-changing, anxious environment must learn to rely on God and not on their own abilities. No one alone is sufficient to the task of Christian leadership in an internet age when we’re everywhere and nowhere at once. This is our reality, whether we like it or not. Sayers writes:

In the networked world, even the most committed believer will consume only a fraction of the information and input from their church compared to what they consume via podcasts, YouTube, and Netflix. The digital network is now our primary formational environment. It shapes our opinions, values, and worldview. Today, the average churchgoer will Google a problem before they approach their pastor. The digital network is the primary shaper of their theological, political, and cultural worldview. . . . A congregation may be physically present within their church, but their primary influence comes from the digital networks to which they are connected.

Sayers serves as senior leader of Red Church in Melbourne, Australia. He’s my first repeat guest on Gospelbound, as he was featured in episode 3. In this episode, we talk about tribalism, anxious systems, maturity, hardship, and more. 

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