Recently, we highlighted the 10 posts from 2015 with the most online views. This week, we thought we would focus on our 10 favorite articles this past year from the magazine.
Here are the 10 best Facts & Trends articles from 2015 as chosen by our staff.
This is a Q&A with two individuals with extensive hands-on experience combating poverty — Jeff Palmer is executive director of Baptist Global Response, and Jerry Daniel leads the LoveLoud team for the North American Mission Board
Everywhere you look, the poor seem to be falling farther behind, and average families are finding it harder to make ends meet. Yet new high-end subdivisions keep springing up, and luxury car dealerships seem to be thriving.
With so much wealth in the world, why do so many people subsist in dire poverty? What can Christians and congregations do to make a difference?
According to a study on mental health and faith, co-sponsored by Lifeway Research and Focus on the Family, ministering to those with mental illness remains a challenge. This is the cover story for our mental health issue.
That’s partly because dealing with mental illness, like other chronic conditions, can feel overwhelming. Patients often feel as if their diagnosis defines their life, while counselors and even pastors can forget that people with mental illness still have a spiritual life.
As a result, churches sometimes miss the chance to minister to those with mental illness.
“Because of the way we have ignored mental illness, we are hurting people,” says Ed Stetzer, executive director of Lifeway Research. “We’ve created a stigma.”
Claude King, coauthor of Experiencing God, shares how churches and individuals can become devoted to prayer.
Prayer is not simply a religious activity to check off your to-do list or a slot in your order of worship. Prayer is a relationship with God, and your prayer life reflects the measure of your dependence on Him.
God is our only hope for the crises we are facing in our homes and marriages, our churches, our cities, our nation, and the world. Is your prayer life up to the task of seeing transformation in these areas? Would God describe your church as a clear example of a house of prayer for the nations?
The cover story of our church revitalization issue spoke with people who have seen a church, in essence, come back from the dead.
For years, Galilee Baptist Church was a vibrant evangelical presence on Chicago’s North Side. The 500-member strong congregation had one of the largest Sunday schools in the city and a thriving missionary program overseas.
Then, a little at a time, the church slowly declined. New people stopped showing up. Old members died off or moved away.
By the late 1990s, Galilee was a church full of empty pews, with a handful of people hanging on.
As the cover story for our leadership development issue, this dealt with the reality of leadership in churches and how to develop the next generation of leaders.
“When I ask pastors, ‘What’s your leadership development strategy for your church?’ I only get two answers,” says church leadership consultant Mac Lake. “One answer is, ‘Well, Mac, we don’t have one.’ And the other answer is, ‘Well, ours is organic’—which means they don’t have one.”
Ruth Moon discusses the shift in what churches are doing in their programs and architecture to reach young adults.
It turns out I am not alone: researchers agree that my generation—the millennials—overwhelmingly values relationships and authenticity in church. And those two things often come in small spaces.
Many churches often struggle with reaching and involving single adults. Lore Ferguson Wilbert shares from her own experience why churches and singles need each other.
She’s been single for centuries and watched hundreds of thousands of her friends marry. She’s been groaning for two millennia, aching for her groom to come and wed her in an eternal marriage. She is the ultimate single.
The Church, more than any entity, understands the ache of singleness, the longing for Christ’s return. Kathy Keller says, “Singles have in many ways more of an opportunity to display what it means to be Christ’s spouse in their singleness [than married people].”
How can Christians go beyond merely having a “quiet time” to developing a quiet life? In the cover story for our devotional life issue, Jared Wilson describes what it would look like to be engaged in “active passivity.”
I firmly believe every Christian should set apart a special time each day in which to spend with God in prayer and Bible reading. But when I do my due diligence in the quiet time, I end up reading things like “Pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and “I have treasured Your word in my heart” (Psalm 119:11). These don’t sound like quiet time. If anything, they sound like a quiet life.
Isn’t this really what we want? To live out our faith in such a way that spending time with God isn’t a checklist item but somehow the quality of our every waking minute? Wouldn’t we want to feel like the so-called “spiritual disciplines” are ways of being, and not just things we do?
In a culture obsessed with comic book movies, how can the church evaluate these films and point viewers to a Hero beyond the screen?
Superhero movies can be used to present truth, but they, like us, need to be redeemed. Using these stories, we can understand our neighbors and community, while recognizing how best to be salt and light in a superhero-obsessed culture.
God has given us the ability to take part in these immensely popular stories. With that great power, we have a great responsibility to proclaim and live out the message of One who sacrificed Himself to save us and who will make everything right by the end.
Amy Simpson shares her family’s struggle with mental illness and how the church can better respond to both the individual suffering and his or her family.
People who live with mental illness, whether their own or someone else’s, need to break the silence. They need to speak and be heard in the church and elsewhere. They need the church to break its own silence as well.
So many have allowed stigma and fear to prevent acknowledgment that mental illness exists within the walls of churches. The silence sends a clear message that God is not interested in their suffering, serious problems have no place in the church, and our faith has no answer for hardships like theirs.
Is there a story you enjoyed last year that we missed? Do you have a favorite on our top 10 list?