The year was 2006, the month, October. And Christianity Today was pulling out all the stops to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
I was knee-deep in the program planning with my mentors Harold Myra and Paul Robbins, then the ministry’s executive chair and president, respectively. But behind the chaos I was also wrestling with whether to add my name to the short list of candidates for possible 2007 successors to the dynamic publishing duo.
Truth be told, I had no interest in the “corner office.” (Think of an Olympic gymnast performing immediately after the perfection of Simone Biles.) Indeed, I had turned down its pursuit at least twice. But evidently God would have none of it, and I resigned myself to being considered.
Whether it was God’s anointing or his sense of humor (or both!), I do not know. But I was called into this uncomfortable role—one that has since taken me and this ministry on a ceaseless rollercoaster ride complete with the exhilarating ups and excruciating downs that have defined the past 10-plus years of publishing.
By God’s grace alone—demonstrated in his working through a gifted team of men and women—Christianity Today is still here, now 60 years strong.
Championing the cause of Beautiful Orthodoxy (see editor Mark Galli’s cover story on page 34), CT continues to clearly and compellingly confirm gospel truth while showcasing its practical expression in stories that speak of Christ’s love for all. And who can argue against the need for such stories now?
Upward of 5 million readers access our essays, reporting, and testimonies in print or via social media and the web each month, with 30 percent of these readers coming from outside the United States. Never before have we been privileged to reach so many people.
Our founder, Billy Graham, prayed for such a reach when the first issue of CT rolled off the presses in 1956. Today, I am humbled to say, his prayer is being answered. Daily. And in ways the visionary evangelist could never have foreseen. But such are the continuing surprises of our great God—to which I stand as only the latest witness.
And what about the next ten years? Will CT continue to weather the industry storms and financial downturns that have left the publishing landscape looking nothing like it did when I entered this office?
Obviously, the answer to that question is in our God’s good and gracious hands. But judging from the challenges, opportunities, and optimism he has sent our way just this past year, I see CT’s calling as being far from over. In fact, I’d say the church needs CT’s voice and presence now more than ever.
That’s why you can expect to see the continuing expansion of CT over the coming months in the form of sites targeting select demographic groups and interest areas. The debut of CT Pastors this August and CT Women last month are just two exciting cases in point.
Led by CT executive editor Andy Crouch, our Culture, Diversity, and Innovation initiative launched this past year will add a much-needed boost to this targeted effort not only by identifying underserved communities within the church, but by bringing gifted individuals from those communities into our ministry to help shape CT content. This effort will ensure that our communications ministry better showcases the wondrous variety and fullness of Christ’s church worldwide.
Underlying all of this, of course, will be our core distinctive of Beautiful Orthodoxy, which continues to reach the hearts and minds of individuals and churches alike. More and more of you are not only expressing your support for this needed witness in emails and on social media, but are partnering with us in our efforts to make this message known throughout our various offerings. (If you would like to know how you can support this cause, please check out ChristianityToday.org and visit the “Partner with Us” page.)
Such gifts will be increasingly essential as we continue “equipping Christians to renew their minds, serve the church, and create culture to the glory of God.”
That, of course, was the mission that set our ministry into motion all those years ago. It is the mission I have tried to tirelessly keynote over the course of my unlikely administration.
And such will ever be the mission delivering CT’s award-winning offerings into more hands and in front of more eyes in the years to come.
All to the glory of our triune God alone.
Harold B. Smith is the president and CEO of Christianity Today.
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