• Why the US Thinks Restricting International Adoptions Will Save Them

    Experts debate State Department strategy to let the little children come less.
    Last fall, America’s only active accreditor of international adoption agencies quit.
    The Council on Accreditation (COA) protested that the US State Department was requiring “significant changes” that would likely reduce the already record-low number of intercountry adoptions, put small adoption providers out of business, and prohibit prospective parents from pursuing such adoptions.
    However, the Stat
  • Rural Fish Bowl

    Pastor Dad needs to be just Dad.
    Growing up in a rural town, I came to understand the lack of privacy just by picking up the local newspaper. Our local gossip column was called “Out and About.” It kept everyone in the loop of how many ladies made it to bridge club that week and that Ida Hayes was absent due to a cold.
    Holidays were always a little more interesting because of folks coming to visit. Every time my aunt came down from Kansas City, it was big news! I remember reading my p
  • Church-Based Academic Partnerships—How the Church and the Academy Can Better Connect to Raise Up and Train

    Students receive practical ministry training, in context, when church and academia partner.
    Ed Stetzer: Why bring the church and the academy together? Why is that important?
    Colin Smith: Study matters, but so does hands-on experience. So bringing what can best be learned in the classroom together with what can best be learned in the church offers the best way to equip leaders for sustainable ministry.
    Ed: What’s the advantage of doing theological formation while in ministry apprenticeships
  • Christian Parents and Schools Have 529 Reasons to Like New Tax Law

    A Q+A on how college savings plans can now be used to pay for private K-12 tuition.
    Parents now have another way to save for Christian school tuition—and this one comes with tax benefits.
    Thanks to the GOP-led tax reforms, the 529 college savings vehicle—so named for the relevant section of the Internal Revenue Code—can now also be used to save money to pay tuition at any “elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school.”
    CT spoke to George Tryfiates, d
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  • What Made Mental Illness a ‘Sin’? Paganism

    And how psychiatry and psychology came to be seen as anti-God.
    Is suffering from mental illness the result of personal sin?
    Last week, many Christians felt two prominent evangelical ministries affirmed that this was the case.
    At last week’s evangelical women’s conference the IF Gathering, speaker Rebekah Lyons, in telling about her daughter’s anxiety attacks, suggested that mental illness could be healed through prayer.
    The incidents at IF occurred several days after John Piper
  • The Wise Leader: Navigating Ethical Storms

    Former U.S. Attorney contributes to an ongoing series.
    As a young man, I had modest dreams. I wanted to go to law school and then practice law in a medium to large law firm in my beautiful home state of New Mexico. I had no inkling of what was to come. I had no political aspirations and had never considered military service. Rather, I was tempted by the siren’s song of 1980s materialism and was more interested in consumerism and social status.
    The Lord had other plans for me.
    Indeed, these
  • The Olympics Have Begun! What Can We Learn from the Top Athletes?

    Is physical activity, like running, swimming, and dancing, an act of worship unto the Lord?
    Just last week, the torch in Pyeonchang, South Korea, was lit; the 2018 Winter Olympic Games have begun. Over the next week or so, the world will watch as teams compete in a myriad of events from bobsledding to biathlons across the snowy slopes.
    Athletic events like this are an incredible display of human talent and the wondrous works that are our physical bodies. These competitors’ capacity to perf
  • The New View of Heaven Is Too Small

    Our recent emphasis on “kingdom work” misses the real hope of the afterlife.
    Heaven isn’t what it used to be.
    A friend of mine’s favorite Sunday school song growing up was “Dwell in Me, O Blessed Spirit,” the first verse of which goes, “Dwell in me, O Blessed Spirit, Gracious Teacher, Friend Divine. For the home of bliss that waits me, O prepare this heart of mine.” But my friend, Laura Smit, who is now a theology professor at Calvin College, notes
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  • The Hard Truth About Mr. Right

    An excerpt from 'Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness.'
    I don’t know if you feel this way, but one of my largest struggles is that now it seems people are only as valuable as they are marriageable. Some days it feels like once a guy knows you’re not wife material, he decides you’re not worth knowing at all.
    It’s hard enough when it feels as if this whole dating scene is a crazy, drawn-out game of musical chairs. In the beginning, when you’r
  • Shootings, Grace, and the Gospel: An Interview with Pastor Eddie Bevill of Parkridge Church on the Parkland Shooting

    Parkridge Church met in the high school for 7 years—now they're hosting a vigil for those killed in the shooting.
    Another tragedy has struck our nation, this time at a high school in Parkland, Florida. According to reports, it’s one of the nation’s deadliest attacks at a high school. My heart dropped when I heard the news yesterday. Another community, and more families, wrecked by violence. I reached out to Pastor Eddie Bevill of Parkridge Church, which first met at the school,
  • Not an Act of God: Ministries Respond to Surge in Mass Shootings

    Christian counselors once focused on natural disasters now frequently address manmade crises.
    Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) arrived in Parkland, Florida, within hours of Wednesday’s school shooting that killed at least 17 teens.
    This is the fifth deployment this year for the ministry’s rapid response team, trained to provide emotional and spiritual support amid crises.
    Each 2018 deployment has been gun-related.
    “Our hearts break for the parents
  • Love & Marriage… Go Together Like… A Few Comments on the Covenantal Practice Today

    Marriage is a created good, is not a ‘must,’ isn’t easy.
    Less than a year ago, an article was published in Huffington Post entitled “Is Marriage an Outdated Tradition?” As it seems, the authors answer is: yes.
    Sadly, many Americans would agree.
    According to a report issued by the Center for Disease Control in March of 2016, when prompted to respond to the statement “marriage has not worked out for most people I know,” roughly a third of those surveyed an
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  • God’s Message on ‘Ash Valentine’s Day’: True Love Dies

    When the first day of Lent falls on a romantic holiday, love and death meet up.
    Today, on Valentine’s Day, while the world is bedecked with schmaltzy red and pink hearts, I will stand before kneeling members of my congregation and tell them that they are going to die. This, without a doubt, is among the most punk rock things I have ever done.
    For the first time in 45 years, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, a liturgical feast day commemorating not one but two martyrdoms. The ho
  • Getting from ‘Hello’ to ‘I Do’ on a Christian College Campus

    Evangelical students are dating with marriage in mind, but the road to the altar is anything but simple.
    Whether they had a ring by spring, never had a date, or were somewhere in between, alumni of Christian colleges and universities remember their experience of marriage culture on campus. This is likely true whether they graduated recently or as far back as the mid-20th century. Despite massive changes in gender roles, sexuality, and young-adult patterns of employment and family formation, marr
  • Christian Unity in Ashes

    Ash Wednesday is an opportunity for Christians from many traditions to come together and recognize our need for Jesus.
    E. C. is a Presbyterian. I am not. I know that he’d love to make me so. He fits Presbyterianism. He loves the arc of the liturgy, the commitment to ever put God’s grace and covenantal faithfulness in the foreground, and their interpretive lens toward scripture. While I respect his convictions, I am not particularly drawn to the Presbyterian ethos. My friend Bruce is
  • What’s So Unique about Christianity? A Short Apologetic [Gospel Life Podcast]

    Start each week with this encouragement to show and share the love of Jesus.
    What’s So Unique about Christianity? A Short Apologetic
    Jerry Root, professor of evangelism at Wheaton College and director of the Evangelism Initiative at the Billy Graham Center, talks about the major world religions and what makes Christianity different. How can we fix the rift between man and God? The one thing that makes the Christian faith different is that it says we cannot fix our problem, but that God is
  • What to Give Up for Lent 2018? Consider Twitter’s Top 100 Ideas

    Last year, Trump ranked between Facebook and hope.
    Once again, you can follow in real time what Twitter users say they are giving up for Lent, which this year begins Wednesday, February 14.
    Last year, food items were three times as popular to abstain from as technology items or personal habits, according to 73,334 tweets analyzed by OpenBible.info’s Stephen Smith during the week of Ash Wednesday 2017. Alcohol ranked No. 1 for the first time since his project began in 2009.
    This year, the c
  • We Lost Our Baby, but We Didn't Want to Lose Our Marriage

    Men and women tend to grieve differently; understanding those differences helped us make it through.
    My husband and I tried to conceive for a year before seeking medical help. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and we began preliminary fertility treatments. During that time, I was in such a pit of despair. The wait brought out the very worst in me. I balked at the mention of God’s sovereignty and refused to open my mouth to sing of his goodness. Instead I countered, I
  • The Unexpected: A Ministry to Widows in the Ukraine

    The Kiev Symphony Orchestra cares for widows and orphans.
    Wes Jansen and I walked the empty Saturday morning streets of Kiev, turned down Shevchenko Street and into the National Arts building, heading up to the fourth floor. The door opened and we stepped into a room of some 250 women. Most seemed older than my 75 years, but I learned most were younger.
    A tough life can add on its years.
    This was a Saturday morning Bible study, but not your average group. They were widows who were brought togeth
  • The Critical Role of Name-Calling in Our Witness: You Are ‘Beloved’

    Perfectionism is just chronic insecurity in disguise.
    Before the advent of social media, many in the previous generation used their parents’ basements to start rock bands and Fortune 500 companies that would go on to rock the world. The late Steve Jobs started Apple in his parents’ garage in 1987. Apple is now the most valuable company in the world in terms of market capitalization. Ironically, the company has more cash in hand than the entire U.S. government. Pearl Jam started their
  • David Platt Is Ready to Leave the IMB

    After trying to both run a major missions agency and preach on Sundays, the local church won out.
    When David Platt became a teaching pastor at a DC-area megachurch last year, onlookers wondered whether the president of the International Mission Board (IMB) could really do both jobs.
    Platt answered them this morning, announcing that he will end his three-and-a-half-year tenure at the IMB to work at McLean Bible Church as soon as the Southern Baptist missions agency can find his replacement.
    &ldqu
  • Baptism Doesn’t Have to Be Divisive

    Despite our different methods, we’re all immersed in the same Christ.
    The first time I heard the phrase “the waters that divide” as a way of describing baptism, I didn’t get the joke. It had never occurred to me to think that way. Admittedly, I was christened as a baby and then baptized at age 14, so in some ways, my own life embodies this “division.” Yet for all our disagreements on baptism, and for all the draconian ways in which our ancestors sometimes deal
  • Why We Need a Missiological Edge in Church Planting

    Bigger and better AND deeper and further
    North American church planting has grown up a lot since I first planted in 1988 as a 20-year-old who grew a beard to look older.
    You’ll often hear those of us who planted churches 30 years ago lament to church planters today about how little we had in terms of resources and training—especially compared to what’s available to them now.
    It almost seems bizarre to me—I had a series of cassette tapes, a notebook, and some training.
    Tod
  • Studying the Bible in the Ancient Languages [Theology for Life]

    Dr. Graves is Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College.
    Studying the Bible in the Ancient Languages
    In this episode of Theology for Life, Ed and Lynn discuss with Dr. Michael Graves why studying the Bible in the original languages can help our understanding and appreciation of Scripture. Instead of being archaic, the richness of the original languages help us go deeper and allow the words to come to life.
    What about our English translations? Are they any good?
    Dr. Michael Graves is Armer
  • Interview: The Deep Satisfaction of Accomplishing Something Together

    A Christian college president defends institutional life—even the meetings!—as a high calling.
    Many people take a pessimistic view of institutions as inherently corrupt and self-serving, and they decry institutional life as a form of soul-sucking drudgery. But for Gordon T. Smith, president of Ambrose University and Seminary in Canada, serving an institution can be an important avenue of spiritual formation. In his book, Institutional Intelligence: How to Build an Effective Organizat
  • Getting Small Churches on Mission (Part 2)

    Three ways smaller churches can serve their communities
    Numerically, smaller churches dominate U.S. life. They should also be key parts of the mission.
    There is much benefit, therefore, in identifying various ways that smaller churches can reach their communities and beyond for Christ. This chapter will identify and briefly expound a few ways small churches can be mission-minded, both locally and globally. They are in no particular order of preference or importance, and there is certainly no exp
  • Died: James W. Sire, Editor Who Brought Us Francis Schaeffer and Os Guinness

    ‘The Universe Next Door’ author used worldview as a tool for evangelical apologetics.
    James W. Sire, the InterVarsity Press (IVP) editor who introduced Christian readers to works by Francis Schaeffer, Os Guinness, C. Stephen Evans, and Rebecca Manley Pippert, died Tuesday at age 84.
    As chief editor for IVP, Sire advanced the Christian worldview movement through the books he edited and wrote, most famously his 1976 title The Universe Next Door, which was named one of CT’s books
  • Blessed Are the Unsatisfied

    We often assume that loneliness and dissatisfaction are symptoms of spiritual failure. But what if they’re signs of healthy faith?TV preachers like Kenneth Copeland tell us what we often want to hear: “God intends for you to be satisfied in every area of your life.” Christian teacher Joyce Meyer presents a similar formula for Christian living: “God cares about everything about you and everything that concerns you. He wants to be good to you and He will never disappoint yo
  • 250 Child Soldiers in South Sudan Begin Recovery with World Vision

    The world’s newest nation remains its most fragile state.
    With the help of World Vision, more than 250 South Sudanese children will have the chance to return to school, reunite with their families, and receive counseling after years of being forced to serve as soldiers and domestic workers during their country’s civil war.
    The New York Times reported this week that 87 girls and 224 boys were freed in the second-largest release by armed groups since the conflict began, and several hun
  • Giving God the (Olympic) Glory: Christian Athletes to Watch in PyeongChang

    These athletes walked with God along the arduous road to the Olympics.
    Winter Olympic sports take strength, grace, speed, precision, and incredible courage. For many of the athletes we’re about to see in PyeongChang, South Korea, those qualities are bolstered by their faith in God, which has seen them through their darkest hours and hardest struggles. Here are just a few of the athletes who have shared about God’s role in their Olympic journeys.
    Maame Biney, speedskating (USA) @Biney
  • What Evangelicals Can Learn from George Lindbeck

    Here's why one of the leaders of postliberalism believed conservative Protestants would carry the torch.
    George Lindbeck, longtime professor of historical theology at Yale Divinity School, passed away on January 8. In evangelical circles he is best known as the author of The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (Westminster Press, 1984) and as one of the two founding fathers of postliberal thought, the other being Hans Frei.
    One important point of clarification is warra
  • To Defend Mideast Christians, Can Advocates Critique Islam?

    Diaspora leaders in America disagree on how to improve religious freedom back home.
    What’s the best way for Middle Eastern Christians in America to help fellow believers back home? A single misspelled email address inadvertently revealed the breadth of this dilemma for activists in the diaspora.
    The mishap sparked a spat this summer between two prominent US Arab groups: the Arab American Institute (AAI), a polling and policy organization led by James Zogby, and Coptic Solidarity (CS), whic
  • Where Do You Find Safety in a World of Chaos? [Gospel Life Podcast]

    Start each week with this encouragement to show and share the love of Jesus.
    Where Do You Find Safety in a World of Chaos?
    Laurie Nichols, director of marketing and communications for the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, looks at Proverbs 18:10 as a go-to verse for the times we live in. What does it mean that our God is a safe God as life crumbles around us—and others? How can we remind others of the refuge of God as the storms of life rage on?
    Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Dist
  • Understanding God’s Control When You’re a Climate Scientist

    A geophysicist on balancing God’s sovereignty over nature with human understanding of weather.
    Thomas P. Ackerman navigates a world of difficult questions and tense conversations. A geophysicist at the University of Washington and director of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, he is at the forefront of research on geoengineering, a science that focuses on manipulating the environment to, among other ends, combat climate change. Ackerman thinks a lot about ethics
  • The Effective Leader: Five Essential Habits

    Founder of The 4Sight Group is the latest in an ongoing series.
    Have you ever been a part of a winning team? Maybe it was a sports team in high school. Maybe it was a work team that launched a new product. Perhaps it was a ministry that organized an effective outreach program.
    The joy of accomplishing great and meaningful work is a tremendous experience. I’m easily moved by the stories of people who are exceptional at what they do. These stories stand out because they defy the gravitationa
  • Sovereign Grace Disputes Rachael Denhollander’s Remarks

    As former gymnast advocates for victims in the church, SGC calls her take on its past scandal “not true.”
    Comments by Larry Nassar accuser Rachael Denhollander in a Christianity Today interview have revived debate over a dismissed abuse lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) dating back to 2012.
    Last week, Denhollander referred to the SGM saga as “one of the worst, if not the worst, instances of evangelical cover-up of sexual abuse” and “one of the most we
  • Samaritan’s Purse VP Nominated for UN Refugee Role Faces Backlash

    Ken Isaacs apologized for his tweets about Islamic violence.
    The State Department faces backlash for nominating a longtime Samaritan’s Purse leader as the next director general of the United Nations’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) last week.
    Nominee Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs and government relations at Franklin Graham’s evangelical relief ministry, previously posted on social media about Muslims’ propensity for violence and his desire to prio
  • Plenty of the ‘Nones’ Actually Head Back to Church

    Americans who identify as agnostic or “nothing in particular” are four times more likely to change their religious affiliation than Protestants or Catholics.
    In his book Changing Faith, sociologist Darren E. Sherkhat contends that Americans shift their religious identifications more often than any others in the Western world.
    As a researcher focused on religion and politics, I’ve always wanted to explore religious switching in more depth, but never really had the data to do it&
  • One on One with Dino Senesi on Sending Well: A Field Guide to Great Church Planter Coaching

    Every planter needs a coach because every planter needs a lot of help.
    Ed Stetzer: Share a little about your experience with church planting and church planter coaching.
    Dino Senesi: My journey with church planting began in New Orleans in the late 1980s. The church I pastored at the time was in a more urban location and God gave us the opportunity to address the diversity through church planting. We walked beside ten new churches. I was not a church planting expert and do not consider myself one
  • Max Lucado, Beth Moore, and Hundreds of Evangelicals Call for Immigration Reform … Again

    A year after their letter opposing the refugee ban, the biggest names in the church are defending Dreamers, persecuted Christians, and more.
    This time last year, just weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, evangelical leaders spoke out in an unprecedented way against his temporary refugee ban with hundreds signing on to an open letter published in the Washington Post.
    Rallied by World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the group took out another
  • Judges: ICE Can’t Deport 100 Christians to Indonesia (Yet)

    Immigrants in New Hampshire and New Jersey ‘fear persecution and torture’ back home.
    On February 1, a federal judge put a halt to the deportation of about 50 Indonesian Christians living in New Hampshire. The next day, a different judge took the same measure to protect another 50 Indonesian Christians in New Jersey.
    Despite an ongoing crackdown by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on immigrants living in the United States illegally, these 100 Christians from Southeast Asia ca
  • Interview: The Place the Freed Slaves Made

    A think-tank leader and former presidential aide shares his debt of gratitude to the people of Madison Park, Alabama.
    Madison Park, a small community in Alabama not far from Montgomery, was founded in 1880 by a group of 14 freed slaves who wanted a place where they could live, work, and worship together while building a better life for their offspring. Among this community’s native sons is Eric Motley, executive vice president at the Aspen Institute and a former special assistant to Presid
  • God Came to Me in My Cancer

    At a time when I should have felt abandoned by God, I experienced what Augustine called “the sweetness.”
    I am at the office, pacing at my treadmill desk and flipping through my latest research, when my phone rings. “Hello, this is Kate.” It’s Jan from the doctor’s office. She has a little speech prepared, but my mind is zeroing in and out. I can hear that she is talking, but I can’t make out the words. It is not my gallbladder, I catch that much. But now
  • Super Bowl LII Brings Bold Testimonies of Faith and Many Opportunities for Prayer

    NFL players leverage their visibility to fight human trafficking and pediatric cancer.
    Super Bowl LII is today and football fans across the country will gather around their television screens to watch the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles battle it out at U.S. Bank Stadium. Nachos and wings in hand, one thing’s for sure: we’re in for quite a night.
    Athletic events have a real knack for bringing people together—no really, I mean that. Even when the Philly and Pats fan
  • The Spirit-Led Leader

    Part four of a new series
    Early in my ministry, I was discipling a new Christian who had come out of a fairly rough background. He had a dramatic conversion to Christ and was growing well and addressing a lot of the issues he had in his life.
    One day, he came to me and said, “Bob, I need to sell my boat.” “Okay,” I responded, to which he responded with energy, “No, Bob, you don’t understand. I used to go out on that boat and get drunk and do all kinds of thing
  • Six Ways to Support and Challenge Those Who Leave Church

    How churchgoers can journey with their “done” brothers and sisters.
    I met recently with an old friend of mine. We’d gone to church together two decades ago and formed a relationship in the trenches of nursery duty and Vacation Bible School. After running through the menu of family and mutual friend updates, I asked her where she was attending church these days. She paused for a moment, as if to steel herself for the response. “Nowhere,” she said.
    She needn’t h
  • Should Churches Handle Sexual Abuse Allegations Internally?

    The Andy Savage case should lead us to question the way many churches are handling the issue.
    Many observers were troubled when Andy Savage, a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, received a standing ovation from his congregation for his admission of a “sexual incident” with a 17-year-old high-school student when he was a youth leader at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas. They have reason to be troubled.
    Though the congregation was probably unaware that the woman involved d
  • Reflections on the Megachurch

    Making and growing disciples is more important than butts in seats.
    This article originally appeared in Outreach Magazine.
    As former head of LifeWay Research, I did the statistical research for the Outreach 100 Fastest-Growing and Largest Churches lists for a number of years and always noticed two things: First, God was doing amazing things through many of these churches. Hearing stories of how the megachurch reaches a region with the gospel is one reason I loved what I did.
    Second, controversy
  • Puerto Rico: 3,000 Churches Damaged, Fewer Christians Left to Rebuild

    Attendance drops as 400,000 island residents move to the mainland.
    The evangelical church in Puerto Rico won’t be the same after Hurricane Maria.
    Even congregations that have resumed their regular gatherings after repairing buildings and regaining power are still missing a major part of church life: some of their members.
    An estimated 400,000 of the island’s more than 3 million residents have left the US territory for the mainland since the record-setting September storm. Like every
  • Interview: My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness.

    Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander spent years discovering God’s perspective on sexual abuse. Then her advocacy for survivors cost her her church.
    Sixteen years after Larry Nassar first sexually abused her, Rachael Denhollander decided to publicly reveal that she had been one of the many victims of the USA Gymnastics team doctor. The former gymnast, who was a 15-year-old homeschooler when she says Nassar started abusing her, became the first to publicly make allegations against the respec

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