2016 was a banner year for the Missio Alliance Writing Collectives. We’re thrilled with the thoughtful work of our Writing Team and Leading Voices. We also were honored to receive a variety of deep, well written submissions from around the world.
Below you’ll find the 10 most popular Writing Collective articles of the year, arranged by their author. Our publication of, A Confession by American Evangelicals Amid the 2016 Presidential Election, also ranked as one of our most popular pages of the year.
You can learn more about our Writing Collectives or submit a piece here.
I was shocked but not surprised by the outcome of the 2016 election. I knew that Donald Trump could become president even though I honestly did not believe that he would. And to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Marc Antony, friends, Christians, and fellow Americans: lend me your ears: I’ve not come to bury Hillary Clinton or to praise her. I’m not about to argue policies or the relative trustworthiness of the two main candidates. That’s been done ad nauseam.
What I want to do is acknowledge a level of frustration as an African American Christian—who reluctantly allows himself to bear the label “evangelical”—and simultaneously try to remember the bigger picture.
Like the unleashing of a fierce anger from a mild demeanored soul who has remained quiet for months and years, there is no sound rationale for what has just erupted. The Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with a sound rationale for what is best for the country. Donald Trump is an “eruption of the Real” on the field of the American political order revealing what has become of America and its politics. It is a reveal for what lies at the empty core of the American system of politics.
The topic getting the most attention centers on our core identity as evangelicals. What is an evangelical? What do we believe that connects us with Christians throughout history and elsewhere in the world? How do our beliefs impact our political convictions and loyalties? How have American values, politics, and culture wars taken our Christianity hostage and pulled us off mission? More importantly, how do we as individuals and as a body reflect the counter-cultural life, teachings, and mission of Jesus in the public square?
I welcome this development. It can be both healthy and refining for us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves honest questions about who we’ve become and how we’ve lost our way.
As you may surmise, I feel strongly about the importance of gender-accurate translations. The ESVs “gender-exclusive” language obscures an accurate understanding for modern readers that impacts multiple texts in the Bible and can lead to false interpretations. Gender-accurate translations answer legitimate questions women are asking when we read the Bible: “Is this text addressing me? Or am I eavesdropping on a message that only applies to men?”
The history of this church was that in order to stimulate activity, leaders initiated programs and events in order to bring numerical and spiritual growth. But this was not working anymore. However, the church kept doing what it had always done only with increased fervor and better technique. The leader I was talking with was exasperated because he could see that the church had moved beyond the point of minor tweaking and instead needed to embrace deep change. I hear this kind of story often.
Though I’m a conference speaker and have attended a wide-variety of large conferences, I’m a little skeptical about their long-term transformative value. Perhaps 10-20 years ago, large conferences were powerful arenas for God’s purposes. But now with so much available to people in the digital age and with younger people’s needs so different, are they worth the effort and cost?
Most white Americans believe whiteness is normal and preferable. America’s cultural myth is that Caucasians from European descent are the heroes of the American story. It’s what made America great and what some believe will make America great again. Racial and religious minorities are incidental and, by gosh, they oughta thank white-folks for even allowing them to be here (like when Pat Buchanan said “blacks ought to get down on their knees and thank God to live in America…no people anywhere have done more to lift up blacks than whites.”)
Not only was this book a best seller, but it changed the way people started talking about vocational desire. This was injected straight into church planting conversations in ways that went something like this: “What if we had churches that reached the creative class? After all, these will be the people who are shaping culture!”
The missiological question that came to dominate these conversations was essentially, “What if church (in structure, in practice and in ethos), was built to reach this cooler-than-thou group of culture makers that so many suburbanites aspirational?”
What does it mean to truly confess Jesus is Lord in the age of Trump and Hillary? How is this confession to shape our lives? If I were to interview Christians across this nation asking if they believed Jesus Christ is Lord, everyone would enthusiastically agree. Yet, somehow this confession has not penetrated our hearts, our ethics and our public witness. The urgent question of our time is “How do we align this confession with our witness?
Racial justice and reconciliation remain one of the most urgent matters of faith and public witness. One could argue that the primary fruit of the gospel is not going to heaven when you die, but the miraculous new family that is created out of death and resurrection of Jesus.
In this respect, the cross of Christ isn’t just a bridge that gets us to God, it’s a sledge hammer that breaks down walls that separate us.
What does it look like to reflect this reality? Well, it first entails we clarify what we mean when we speak about racial reconciliation. Before I offer some ways forward, let’s examine ways that have led us backwards. Check out the Top 10 @missioalliance articles of 2016. Click To Tweet