I couldn’t be more thrilled with the thoughtful work coming out of our Writing Collectives in 2018. This year’s articles reflect a deep engagement with issues essential to the mission of the church, such as the dangers of nationalism, how the politics of Jesus interrupts the politics of our age, why God’s people must embody racial justice (and how), what the current sexual abuse crisis means about our ecclesiology and theology of leadership, and much more. We also were honored to publish a variety of profound, well-written submissions from around the world.
In case you missed them, or even if you’d just like to digest them again, below you’ll find the 20 most popular Writing Collective articles from 2018, arranged by title.
Our Open Letter to Women in the Church was one of our most viewed articles of the year, and more importantly, a collaborative project every single one of us at Missio Alliance stood proudly behind. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to view and share the video once more.
Special thanks to Deb Gregory for the production of this video!
You can learn more about our Writing Collectives or submit an article for our consideration here. Have you read each of Missio Alliance's top 20 articles from 2018? Catch up on them here! Click To Tweet
Top 20 Articles from 2018 (in alphabetical order by title)
As a pastor of color who leads a very multi-ethnic and multi-cultural church, I often get asked by other pastors and leaders around the country how white, homogeneous churches can embody the gospel’s claim that a new communal identity is possible in a setting not given to reconciliation. I want to suggest that while not every church is going to reflect multi-ethnicity, predominantly white churches in predominantly white neighborhoods can still do their part in connecting the gospel to race.
In the face of tragic stories and historic collapses of institutions and powerful leaders, the first impulse we have is to look outward to locate blame and offer judgment. I recognize this impulse in me, especially after the great fall of Bill Hybels. But my task, first and foremost, is to locate myself in all of this.
Christian nationalism might be defined as the belief that Christians have been called by God to create a Christian nation … Christian nationalism is not only behind how some Christians understand the book of Revelation; it impacts their politics as well as their views of other human beings. The genocide perpetrated against Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, the fear of those who did not grow up Christian (especially Muslims at this point in history), debasement of women, as well as ongoing discrimination of various ethnic minorities, is linked to Christian nationalism.
Women from our Missio Alliance writing team and other women ministers from around the nation collaborated on a letter: a message of hope to all women in the Church. Because in a world where women are all too often silenced, undermined, excluded, objectified or violated, we commit ourselves anew to proclaiming a message of truth, hope, and understanding.
by Kyuboem Lee
We just endured a midterm election. The Catholic Church is in a deep crisis over the abuse victims coming forward after spiritual leaders used their powers to engage in a decades-long cover up. As a result, the Catholic community has been getting rent asunder. Evangelicals (or at least the ones who tend to be older, white, rural to suburban) have come to be known in this country as the demographic that will most reliably side with the power that promises to look out for their interests—no matter how that leadership exercises its power, its personal moral conduct, or its policies towards orphans, widows, strangers. “We need a strong leader in times like this,” I hear many say. But was Jesus a “strong leader”?
Though ‘spiritual formation’ has gone from heretical to accepted in most evangelical contexts, it is still often misunderstood. Here’s how spiritual formation relates to evangelism and discipleship.
On the 4th of July, especially on social media, we will see a wide array of memes, articles, tweets, and heated debates. As a pastor, I’m entrusted with the challenging task of helping others (online and offline) understand each other in a way that leads to healing, mutuality, truth, and love … This piece serves as a pastoral word to grasp some of the common ways people go about thinking through this holiday.
How should Christians think theologically and Christianly about these highly complex and endemically polarizing issues of guns, their use, and their restrictions? I’d like to offer at least three convictions that can guide our conversation.
Learning to distinguish between the categories of dogma, doctrine, and opinion is vital if we are to disagree without hostility, without letting our differences get in the way of serving a hurting world and sharing the good news.
by Ryan Kuja
If Mary lived in our country today, she’d be a 14-year-old black girl struggling to get by in Flint or an adolescent Latina eking out an existence with her immigrant parents in gentrifying El Paso. And her song of praise to the anti-racist and anti-nationalist, pro-poor, and pro-human rights God she worships might read something like this.
The important question being overlooked isn’t one about definitions; i.e., what is the Gospel? What is justice? What is racism? Et cetera. The question at stake is one of power. Biblical interpretation is an act of power and in America, that power has been vested in white Protestant men for as long as the country has existed.
That we find ourselves fussing and fretting over such a needless articulation of a narrowed theological vision is evidence that we have, perhaps, internalized the centrality of the white, male voice in our common hermeneutics.
by Andrew Arndt
I grieve with our culture over the abuses we have seen—the serial disrespect of women, the growing scourge that is child sex trafficking, the many forms of pornography masquerading as entertainment. I hate it all. And I rejoice that with the #MeToo movement we are seeing at least the beginnings of a reckoning—of society’s attempt to say, with a unified voice, “This we will not tolerate.”
But is #MeToo enough?
If Christians assume the Enneagram is the only tool for spiritual transformation on the road of following Jesus, then this tool could be ultimately unhelpful. However, if we turn to Jesus, in faith and repentance, and come through the waters of baptism into God’s new world, if we are intentional about following Jesus as a disciple and we use the Enneagram as a tool of self-awareness—in addition to many other spiritual practices—then it can be extremely helpful.
by Joy Craun
The most inaccurate lesson we could learn from Willow Creek is that one morally failed person made some mistakes—but everything is generally fine … We need to prayerfully examine our churches’ structures, cultures, and ideologies that might be enabling abuse.
Some men are feeling tentative in their interaction with women … But when men avoid relationships with women altogether, for fear of what others may misconstrue, this also undercuts God’s design for gender-related reconciliation and mutuality in leadership. More than ever, men and women need to be working together—in work, in social spaces, and in the Church—in order to contribute to the growth of God’s reign.
Tragically, this crisis has been brewing for generations in the American evangelical church. We’ve been hearing #MeToo stories here and there—whispered in the shadows of big steeple churches, revealed in painful phone calls and emails of despair. It has taken much too long for the truth to break out in the open. Women of faith are recognizing the opportunity—indeed their responsibility—to seize the moment. They are doing exactly that.
Salvation is not found by asking Jesus into our lives, but by entering the life of Jesus where, as a disciple, we find ourselves immersed in God’s rescue plan.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “If Bill Hybels had only followed the Billy Graham rule, this would have never happened.” And now, nearly every response I’ve seen and read has been a call for men to build bigger walls against women so it doesn’t happen again. Of course. That is, after all, a seemingly safe place to be. But in a culture of strict boundaries and bigger walls, we communicate to women that they are untrustworthy, tempting, and shameful simply because of the shape of their body.
Perhaps if I had learned from a woman seminary professor, I would have had an even better seminary education, and would today be an even better pastor.
It can hardly have come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the pronouncements of John Piper that when he was asked recently, “Is there a place for female professors at seminary?” his unequivocal answer was, “No.” … Piper’s controversial admonition actually provides Christian seminaries a crucial opportunity to ask what is lacking in the preparation they’re offering future church and ministry leaders. Could at least part of the problem be the fact that it’s possible for men to complete their seminary education without significant input and influence from a female point of view?