Donald McGavran is not a household name. Yet over the past 50 years, few have worked so hard to apply strategy to world evangelization. Statistics, careful documentation, and sociological theorizing have all played a part in his principles of church growth. But, as Tim Stafford writes in his cover story (p. 19ff.), at the heart of all the charts and graphs is McGavran’s tireless “love for the lost.”
This is Tim’s second missions-related profile for CT in the last year-and-a-half. His first (“Ralph Winter: An Unlikely Revolutionary,” Sept. 6, 1984) gave us an intensely personal—and, at times, downright humorous—look at a bookish, mild-mannered iconoclast whose passion for the world’s hidden peoples “has shaken the missions community to the core.”
Once again, Tim uses telling anecdotes and the reactions of contemporaries to give us an insider’s look at a complex man. The story of McGavran’s presentation at a Fourth of July rally sponsored by Fuller Seminary (“It was not the kind of talk familiar to listeners to the ‘Old Fashioned Revival Hour’ ”) is a case in point.
Tim is a natural for this kind of assignment. Not only is he an accomplished writer, but he has a passion for missions—a passion that sent him to Kenya for four years to develop the youth magazine Step. He’ll be returning to Kenya in June to check on Step’s progress and, I assume, to show off pictures of his third child—who is expected to arrive in April.
Complementing Tim’s piece is the artwork of Paul Turnbaugh. His cover illustration of McGavran is the first caricature to grace a CT cover since—you guessed it—his caricature of Ralph Winter.
HAROLD SMITH, Managing Editor1
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