CT Makers p. 40

Surprised by a wonderfully eccentric list of Christian creatives and innovators featured in the recent @CTmagazine.


Great to see followers of Christ being creative in all realms of culture!


I’m a sucker for top 20 lists and this one does not disappoint,
excellent reporting per usual by @kateshellnutt.


Who Gets to Count That Convert? p. 20

“Who Gets to Count That Convert?” reveals a historical pattern of distorted motivation and measure of mission agencies’ success. Comity agreements of the early 20th century broke down as diverse organizations moved into areas of responsiveness, seeking to claim a portion of the harvest. Reports of conversions, baptisms, and churches planted were necessary to keep support flowing from churches at home.

This resulted in publicized metrics that were suspect, pride in statistics that exceeded what others were doing, and pressure to maintain a perceived pattern of growth and success. Mission agencies became guilty of what Paul characterized as “measuring themselves by themselves and commending themselves with themselves” (2 Cor. 10:12). Of greater consequence was neglect of the harder, resistant fields of unreached and unevangelized peoples where statistics were not forthcoming.

The “bean-counters” and research agencies were the ones perplexed in trying to sort the overlapping reports when movements emerged beyond the clear delineation of denominational identity. However, two positive developments have brought missions to the new paradigm of counting finally reflected by the IMB and others:

Partnership between evangelical mission agencies grew out of a realization that the potential for fulfilling the Great Commission and engaging all peoples with the gospel would happen not through individual strategies but through working together. There was no longer concern about who got credit, but whether unique strategic gifts and resources were being used to glorify God and advance his kingdom.

The second factor was an unprecedented global harvest that emerged as we moved into the 21st century. Movements to Christ in areas where there were no church networks were quickly growing to the point that would defy the ability of Western agencies to track and report.

Discrepancies in what various groups report as “conversions” and how they define what a church is miss the point. Mission agencies are more concerned about being driven by a passion to penetrate lostness and measuring success in terms of diminishing the number of those who remain without access to the gospel.

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Jerry Rankin

President Emeritus

International Mission Board, SBC

Clinton, MS

Manny Pacquiao: Fighter for the Ages p. 26

Manny Pacquiao’s testimony is the answer to “How would Jesus live?” He would live in such way that most people around him would want him crucified.

Roy Mayfield

Carnation, WA

The Myth of ‘Engaging the Culture’ p. 33

Andy Crouch presents a less daunting and more fruitful alternative to engaging “the culture.”


@ahc rightly argues that churches need to be much more careful in their use of “culture” language.


Differentiating between “national ethos” and “culture” is a helpful distinction, I think. Thanks @ahc.


Great piece by @ahc. It’s no more possible to “engage the culture” than to be a “global citizen.” Place matters.


It seems like much of the discussion about engaging the culture is limited to the culture of a certain demographic: middle class, “hipster” millennials. I don’t see the same emphasis on engaging senior citizens, the homeless, or the working poor.

Vanessa Loy

The Porn Paradox p. 38

Porn is an addiction. Fleeing temptation when it “is only a Google search away” may seem easy for those who are not addicted to porn, but impossible for those who are. There is hope in 12-step programs in which we declare ourselves powerless over addiction and turn to the One who is sovereign. These programs bring God to the forefront of life and bring us into a one-on-one relationship with a sponsor who helps guide us through more than a typical church would or could.

As the church embraces addicts, it will find that those who are looked down upon are often the ones who know their need for Christ and embrace him, even in their weaknesses.

Chris Miller

Lake Worth, FL

Creating a Culture of Resilience p. 56

Mark Sayers provides insightful analysis of Western cultural trends, and the essay deserves to be reflected on by contemporary Christians. We need to heed his caution about attempts to be “culturally relevant.” Going forward, resilience rather than relevance will be the preferred path for both the church and individual Christians as the norms of the “third culture” become more pervasive.

George Harrison

Upland, IN

Sayers’s analysis of this new progressivism was striking and informative. I found especially valuable his diagnosis of societal sin in failing to recognize a person’s “self-determined identity,” coupled with radical liberalism’s increasing belief in the “emotional fragility in human beings.” There is a subtle irony here: Our freedom of speech—even while undergirded by pluralist ideological values—clashes with the new progressive decrying of language. I find it to be a paradox of paranoia: dreading we might lose our freedom of expression, while at the same time deeply fearing the critique we might receive when we exercise that freedom.

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Part of the church’s resilience that Sayers speaks of is sustaining confidence in the gospel, which drives out all fear, giving true, lasting freedom. The gospel that promises this liberty is probably the most beautiful relevance the church could adopt.

Derek Hiebert

Bellevue, WA

Married With Benefits p. 72

Interesting. Always fascinating to see the wisdom behind God’s commandments and precepts. They are always for the good of mankind and born out of his unconditional love for us.

Drew Toh

The Gift of Fear p. 76

Thanks @lkoturner—as one who struggles w/ anxiety, your redemptive experience is encouraging!


I usually dislike personal essays/spirituality, so @lkoturner’s essay speaks to her quality as a writer.


A Hillbilly’s Lament p. 83

I agree with J. D. Vance that hard work is required for anyone to get out of spiritual and material poverty, but hard work is not enough. We need help from outside. To get out of spiritual poverty, we need God’s help. To get out of material poverty, we need opportunities and help from our community to take advantage of those opportunities. And sometimes, even hard work, opportunities, and help from outside are not enough; there is never a guarantee of success.

I found reviewer Hannah Anderson’s questions about the church to be equally applicable to schools: The education system is premised on stability at home, and course requirements assume a certain educational level at entry.

Elizabeth Kerr

Ontario, CA

Soccer Was My God p. 96

Here’s a worthy read for anyone who worships professional sports or athletes.


Correction: In our interview with neuroscientist Curt Thompson (“The Loneliness of Shame,” p. 62), we reversed an explanation: the sympathetic drive is “the fight or flight system,” and the parasympathetic drive is “our relaxed state.”

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