Pastors aren’t perfect. They battle with temptation and sin just like the rest of us. But when they fall from grace, they make headlines—and sometimes they drag down whole congregations. So what does it take to be successful in Christian leadership? In his brand-new book, Faithful Leaders: And the Things That Matter Most, author and pastor Rico Tice helps us focus our ambitions on the things that matter to God rather than the things that impress the world. “Hearing your Creator and your Father say, ‘Well done’—that’s all that ultimately matters, isn’t it?” writes Rico, “That’s the measure of a…

Founder of Light Records arranged for Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, and Elvis Presley; scored “The Blob”; developed folk musicals; discovered Andraé Crouch; and believed any style could glorify God. Ralph Carmichael, a composer and record producer who shaped the sound of contemporary Christian music, died on October 18 at age 94. A violin prodigy with perfect pitch and a love for jazz chords, Carmichael built his reputation in Los Angeles TV and film studios before turning to Christian music and throwing open the doors for a new generation to use any and every style to sing about Jesus. When…

Q&A with Mission Aviation Fellowship President David Holsten on the challenges of reaching the most isolated villages in the world. In a remote village on the side of a mountain in Papua, a man has been writing letters. “I’ve written so many letters asking for teachers to come,” he says. “I’ve written so many letters, my pens have all run out of ink. I don’t have any more pens to write with. But then all of the sudden I heard you guys were coming. I was so happy hearing that I could not sleep at all last night.” A new…

The Christian life is not a series of a few special performances; it is steady persistence for a lifetime. Many of us can produce a burst of enthusiasm now and then. That’s not particularly difficult. The real challenge is to stay the course over the long haul—not a flash in the pan but steady, stable, and persevering in the essentials of maturing faith. The second half of Hebrews 12 presents us with a to-do list of sorts for the Christian life. It’s not a quick-fix, three-easy-steps-to-success kind of list, but it does offer us six important ways to walk in…

How polarizing narratives corrupt our hearts and redefine our faith. After touring the United States in the early 1830s, the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville concluded that “the organization and establishment of democracy among Christians is the great political problem of our time.” Nearly two centuries later, the problem in the United States has evolved from establishing to sustaining democracy, but the underlying challenge for American Christians remains unchanged. As citizens of a democratic republic, we are called to think Christianly about democracy, respond rightly to it, and live faithfully within it. Among other things, this means figuring out what…

“This Present Darkness” and other bestsellers show us the history of evangelicalism—and how it could be different. Danyell didn’t like This Present Darkness. In fact, she hated it. The 1986 novel by Frank Peretti tells the story of demons invading a classic American small town until the local Christians are roused to prayer. The book was wildly popular when it came out, and after more than 30 years, it still sells about 8,000 new copies annually. There are a lot of readers who really love This Present Darkness. For some, it’s changed the way they pray. It has shaped their…

After a recent outbreak, leaders say they’re prioritizing parental decision-making over county protocols on masking and social distancing. When students at Resurrection Christian School in Loveland, Colorado, returned on Wednesday from a four-day Labor Day weekend, school leaders were there at the entrances to welcome them, masked and unmasked, and to keep an eye out for county health officials. Last week, following a COVID-19 outbreak that infected around 35 of 1,600 students, the health department directed Resurrection Christian to adopt a universal mask mandate and social distancing for at least 14 days, but the school—which required masks last school year…

It has never been easy to be a college student. You face pressure from every side to answer the perennial question: So, what are you going to do with the rest of your life? That’s not to mention the social stressors of figuring out where you belong, and perhaps of being away from home for the first time. Your years at university can be thrilling, yes, but they can also be daunting. In addition to all the challenges of self-discovery and finding your footing in God’s world, for many, college comes with threats to the core principle of education itself….

Not all who profess faith in Christ actually follow Him. Not all who give lip service to Christianity necessarily know its truth. Various warning passages (e.g., Heb. 2:1–4; 3:7–4:13; 1 John 2:19), along with Jesus’ own words in the Gospels (e.g., Matt. 7:23; 25:41; Luke 13:27), alert us to the possibility that we can appear to have a relationship with Jesus and even enjoy the fellowship of close Christian community without finding a home in heaven in the end. When Self-Effort Strikes Some of us have been awakened to the truth about who Jesus is. We’ve seen the seriousness of…

Liberation from injustice starts with obedience to God and his moral order. In the early 1980s, Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh established a commune called Rajneeshpuram and embarked on a search for utopia in the wilderness of Wasco County, Oregon. (The Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country recounts the story.) The cult sought to create the perfect city by deconstructing the social norms and religious strictures that in their view suppress one’s true self. Rajneesh taught that free love and dynamic meditation were the key to liberating the individual and reaching “superconsciousness.” The group bought 80,000 acres and indulged all their…

Legal experts suggest churches should be cautious about providing documentation to help people get around mask and vaccine rules. Some Christian leaders have spoken out alongside the public officials, doctors, and other community figures who are helping people circumvent COVID-19 precautions. An Oregon school superintendent is telling parents they can get their children out of wearing masks by citing federal disability law. A pastor at a California megachurch is offering religious exemptions for anyone morally conflicted over vaccine requirements. And Louisiana’s attorney general has posted sample letters on his office’s Facebook page for those seeking to get around the governor’s…

World Relief joins five fellow refugee resettlement groups in lamenting the “devastating” impact of problems with the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa process. As most Americans absorbed the shock of the Taliban’s full takeover of Afghanistan over the weekend, officials at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service followed the rapidly deteriorating situation with resignation, knowing it could have gone differently. In May, leaders at LIRS, one of several faith-based agencies contracted with the US government to resettle refugees in the United States, sent a letter to the Biden administration requesting it remove Afghan civilians (and their families) who have worked with…

US forces are withdrawing after 20 years, but the story of Christian aid work goes far beyond military conflict. Our September issue went to press before the stunningly rapid fall of Afghanistan’s government. This month’s cover honors the history of faithful, unseen service in Afghanistan on the part of local believers and Christian aid workers. With US troops largely gone from the country and the Taliban now firmly in control, it’s easy to forget that the church was at work there long before America’s “forever war” began—and will remain at work there, in whatever form it takes, now that the…

While a baker from the same state won his challenge, court upholds Colorado anti-discrimination requirements for the owner of a creative agency. A US appeals court has ruled against a Christian web designer who didn’t want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples and sued to challenge Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, another twist in a series of court rulings nationwide about whether businesses denying services to LGBTQ people amounts to bias or freedom of speech. A three-judge panel of the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday denied Lorie Smith’s attempt to overturn a lower court ruling throwing…

Meet the women and men who make their faith a priority as they compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Opening Ceremonies have just commenced, but the 2020 Tokyo Games already feel weird. The Japanese government made a last-minute decision to bar spectators, and a number of athletes had to drop out after testing positive for COVID-19 or quarantine after being exposed to those who have tested positive. Like their fellow Olympians, Christian athletes have made sacrifices, worked through mental health crises, and pushed themselves to their physical limits to make it to the Games. But they’ve been able to…

World Evangelical Alliance and Nahdlatul Ulama sign “The Nation’s Mosque Statement” on sidelines of 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit, seeking a “harmonious world order.” The world’s largest Muslim organization accepts that Christians will try to convert its members. A new partnership with evangelicals seeks to ensure this does not lead to conflict. Last week, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) signed a statement of cooperation with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), an Indonesian association with an estimated 30 million to 50 million members. Established in 1926 to counter Wahhabi trends issuing from the Arabian Peninsula, its name means “Revival of the Religious Scholars.”…

For churches that take the Bible seriously, doctrine can be dangerous. Where theology is appreciated and taught, the hazard is not vagueness, compromise, or fellowship based on the lowest common denominator; it’s just the opposite. When people begin to take doctrine seriously (which we all ought to), they may also become rigid and demand too much of others—and sometimes even of themselves. In other words, we risk making essential what is actually nonessential. Doctrine Matters We must state plainly up front that even though doctrinal rigidness is a danger, doctrinal indifference is a mistake. Paul says clearly to Titus that…

CCCU schools are facing intense pressure. But it’s an opportunity, not a siege. “Please note:” the announcement for the protest vigil warned, “Prayers will be offered and certain testimonies may include dimensions of God and religion. If this is triggering for you, take any precautions you need.” The protest was led by students at a Christian college, where one would hope that “dimensions of God and religion” would be both commonplace and triggering (of reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness). Student protests are not reliable indicators of institutional health. But in this case, the fliers and tweets promoting the student…

What does it look like to become a Christian? For some, it’s easy to answer this question by reflecting on their personal experience of salvation—something every believer should do for encouragement from time to time. But others don’t have a frame of reference that allows them to answer with any real sense of confidence. Surprisingly, one of the best ways to see what it looks like to become a Christian is by considering a true, two-thousand-year-old tale about Jesus Christ and a man with leprosy. Whether you want a helpful reminder from Scripture or you find yourself here because you’re…

Devastating deflation means evangelical and Catholic schools can barely pay teachers and keep classes open. Yet it’s cheaper than ever for the global church to support them. The 2021 graduating class of the National Evangelical School in Nabatieh (NESN) is entirely Shiite Muslim. While certainly not the image of a typical Christian school in the United States, it is hardly an outlier in Lebanon, where 35 evangelical schools average student bodies that are two-thirds Muslim. Located 35 miles south of Beirut, Nabatieh originally had a 10 percent Christian population when American Presbyterian missionary Lewis Loe founded the school in 1925….

One court yields keys to colonial-era worship site, while another issues verdict for prominent pastor facing proselytism charges. Algerian Christians finally have something to celebrate. Amid a rash of church closures the past two years, the North African nation’s Council of State returned a historic worship site in Mostaganem, a port city on the Mediterranean coast, to the Algerian Protestant Church (EPA). The EPA loaned the building, which dates to the French colonial era, to the Ministry of Health in 1976. But in 2012, when the site’s medical clinic changed locations, the local governor gave the facility to an Islamic…