The Trust Protocol | Book Review


How much do you trust an institution to do what is right? Not much, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer. “The U.S. is enduring the worst collapse ever recorded in the history of the [report],” writes Daniel Edelman. “This is led by a decline in trust in government, which is down 30 points among the informed public and 14 points among the general population, while for the informed public trust in each of the other institutions sank by 20 or more points.” The “other institutions” are business, media and nongovernmental organizations (such as charities and churches). Though Edelman fingers … Continue reading The Trust Protocol | Book Review

Leadership Lessons of the Apostle Paul | Influence Podcast


In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I talk to Ryan Lokkesmoe about leadership lessons we can learn from the New Testament church. Lokkesmoe is lead pastor of Real Hope Community Church in Houston, Texas. He has a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Denver, and he is author, most recently, of Paul and His Team, published in 2017 by Moody. Here’s my review of his book: Ryan Lokkesmoe is the lead pastor of Real Hope Community Church in Houston, and has a Ph.D. in New Testament studies. In Paul and His Team:What the Early Church Can Teach Us About … Continue reading Leadership Lessons of the Apostle Paul | Influence Podcast

America’s Pastor: Billy Graham (1918-2018)


The Rev. Billy Graham passed away this morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. For decades, Billy Graham was the face of evangelical Christianity, not merely in the United States, but around the world. His death is an occasion for mourning, but his life is an instructive example to Christian ministers today. In August 2015, I wrote the following book review of Grant Wacker’s excellent book, America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation. Rereading it more than two years later, it strikes me as a good summary of the lessons we can learn from the life and … Continue reading America’s Pastor: Billy Graham (1918-2018)

When Harry Became Sally | Book Review


“America is in the midst of what has been called a ‘transgender moment,’” writes Ryan T. Anderson in When Harry Became Sally. “Not long ago, most Americans had never heard of transgender identity, but within the space of a year it became a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights.” The inflection point was probably Diane Sawyer’s April 2015 interview with Bruce Jenner, in which he said, “for all intents and purposes I’m a woman,” taking the name Caitlyn a few months later. A judge legally approved Jenner’s name and gender change in September of that year. In October, Glamour … Continue reading When Harry Became Sally | Book Review

Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough | Influence Magazine


Note: The following column will appear in the March/April 2018 issue of Influence magazine. I wrote it prior to yesterday’s deadly shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Its purpose is to encourage local congregations to respond holistically to people’s needs when tragedy strikes their community. ***** The deadliest mass shooting in the United States took place the night of October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, leaving 58 dead and 851 injured. In the aftermath of that shooting, people across America took … Continue reading Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough | Influence Magazine

Frederick Douglass: America’s Prophet | Book Review


Today is the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass. Born a slave in 1818 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Douglass escaped slavery in 1838, fleeing to New York but eventually settling in Massachusetts. Three years later, he began his lifelong work as an abolitionist and civil rights activist. There are many excellent biographies of Douglass, including three autobiographical works. D. H. Dilbeck’s Frederick Douglass is valuable because it is a “religious biography,” the goal of which is “to explain the substance of Douglass’s faith and show how it shaped his public career.” In Dilbeck’s judgment, Douglass was “the most significant … Continue reading Frederick Douglass: America’s Prophet | Book Review

Five Resources on Generation Z*


Generation Z is the demographic cohort that follows the millennials. Demographers disagree on the year this generation was born, but common estimates run from as early as 1995 to as late as 2015. Depending on how you count it, Generation Z constitutes nearly 25 percent of the American populace. Every generation presents unique challenges and opportunities for ministry, so understanding the forces that shape each one is a pastoral necessity. The August/September 2016 issue of Influence magazine featured an award-winning cover story about Generation Z by Tim Elmore: “Homelanders: The Next Generation.” I recommend that you start there if you … Continue reading Five Resources on Generation Z*

The Creed of Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words


Today is Abraham Lincoln’s 209th birthday, in honor of which, according to the custom of my blog, I re-post this post about Lincoln’s religious beliefs, such as they were. Enjoy! ***** In 1920, William E. Barton published The Soul of Abraham Lincoln, a now classic study of the development of Lincoln’s faith. “Lincoln’s religious was an evolution,” Barton wrote, “both in its intellectual and spiritual qualities.” Lincoln’s religious identity seems to have moved through three stages: (1) a Calvinist Baptist in childhood; (2) a skeptical, freethinker in young adulthood; and (3) and a not-altogether-orthodox Christian in mature adulthood. “Too much of … Continue reading The Creed of Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words

The Lost History of Christianity | Book Review


“Religions die,” writes Philip Jenkins in The Lost History of Christianity. “Over the course of history, some religions vanish altogether, while others are reduced from great world faiths to a handful of adherents” (p. 1). While contemporary Christians might like to think that this statement applies to other religions—after all, who worships the Greek pantheon today?—the sobering truth is in history, Christianity has experienced reduction in the historic heartlands of its faith. As Jenkins shows, for a thousand years, Christianity was the dominant religion in the Middle East, North Africa, and western Asia, but now it is at best a … Continue reading The Lost History of Christianity | Book Review