All posts by Ben Peays

Ben Peays is the executive director of The Gospel Coalition and a PhD candidate at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

TGC Hires Seth Magnuson and Expands Translation Efforts

The Gospel Coalition is pleased to announce the addition of Seth Magnuson to our team. Seth will serve as the director for translated content strategies for our new expanded translation initiative, which significantly increases our bandwidth in resourcing the global church. Seth is an incredible answer to prayer for TGC.

MagnusonSethSeth spent the previous six years at Desiring God developing their content strategy and managing their translation teams. He also coordinated international events, managed global partnerships, and oversaw logistics for resource distribution. In the spirit of gospel partnership, TGC intends to serve Desiring God by continuing to provide professional translations of John Piper resources for various multimedia platforms. The need around the world is staggering for this sort of work. The global church faces a profound theological famine. Seth will be a great aid to help us resource the global church who so desperately desire to hear from God.

Seth will expand the translation teams to include more translators, working in more languages, and translating a broader collection of voices. We will be building an international, multi-language database of the world's best resources—working hard to not just translate U.S. voices, but to also provide a platform for the great teachers around the world already serving a particular language or people group. We will also be able to expand the editorial teams for our French and Spanish websites and increase the number of live translations at our conferences.

The addition of Seth will also increase our ability to produce more translated physical books for distribution to places around the globe that do not yet have reliable access to the internet. Last year, TGC International Outreach, under the leadership of director Bill Walsh and thanks to your generosity, completed a remarkable number of projects allowing us to distribute more than 63,000 physical resources in 11 languages to 40 countries (read the stories)—with thousands more still available for free through our Packing Hope program.

These are exciting times, and we are grateful to God for his grace and provision. We are excited that God would provide us with Seth, and we wanted you to join us in welcoming him to the team.

New Music Project Helps Kids Learn Theology

The Gospel Coalition is excited to announce a new music project aimed at helping kids learn about God. In partnership with James and Dana Dirksen and their Songs for Saplings collection, we have made 111 songs adapted from the Westminster Shorter Catechism available for free streaming on TGC's website. We hope you can use these songs to help teach your kids important truths about God.

Listen to a couple songs to get a feel for the entire collection:

Who is God?

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What is sin?

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As a parent of four, I am always looking for great teaching resources for my kids. I met James and Dana at our last national conference in Orlando and received some of their music. By the time our road trip home was over, my kids were actually singing good theology. I asked them if we could incorporate their music into a special web project for The Gospel Coalition as well as the New City Catechism app.

dirksen-4Songs for Saplings is a ministry from the Dirksen family. They live in Portland, Oregon, with their six children, and the entire family contributes to these projects.

I asked Dana to share why she started this Songs for Saplings:

Kids are really smart. They soak up everything they hear and see. What we really wanted to do was create fun, interesting music that would be saturated with Bible verses and theology. The question-and-answer method is an old and beautiful method for teaching kids. How many times has your 6-year-old asked you a question about how something works or why something is? It happened every hour with my babies.

We're finished all six volumes now, and my prayer is that the lyrics will sink down deep in kids' hearts so they will be able to remember the truths they learned there for the rest of their lives. And not just in English. We've started translating the songs into other languages. We have albums recorded in Chichewa (the language in Malawi), French, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, and I'm actually in Quito, Ecuador, right now recording our first volume in Spanish.

James added:

This partnership with The Gospel Coalition is really a gift from God to us. We're doing what we think brings glory to God by using the limited gifts we have, and since we've finished this series our main goal is to get the music to people any way we can. Having the music available for free for anyone to listen to on The Gospel Coalition's site it a great way to do that—and clearly is an answer to our prayers.

We hope you find this new project to be helpful. This is just another way TGC is trying to serve the local church by providing free theological resources. Please take some time to listen to a few of the songs and check out the Songs for Saplings website. This could also make a great stocking stuffer for your kids.

Luke Album Named 'Best of Best'

TGC LukeThe Gospel Coalition is excited to announce that Worship Leader magazine awarded our Songs for the Book of Luke album their 2013 Editor's Pick award as the Best of the Best selection in the Indie category. This is an annual selection by their editorial team of the top album that influenced worship services in the past calendar year.

Thank you to everyone who has listened to the album and even led these songs in your churches! You can listen the entire album for free here. On this site you can also download free chord charts and sheet music, and watch video instructions on how to play the songs. These are all original songs inspired by the book of Luke and aimed at being sung congregationally.

Chan and Platt Reflect from the Korean DMZ

Just a few hours ago David Platt and Francis Chan were standing at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)—a strip of land serving as a buffer between North and South Korea. They recorded this short, candid video reflecting on the realities of a closed country with little or no access to the gospel.

They offer a challenge for church to be more active in helping North Korea rather than simply observing the situation like a tourist. Let us pray more fervently for Kim Jong Un and the people of North Korea, and act with greater urgency to bring them the gospel.

Pray, Work, Wait: Dave Blanchard on Gospel-Minded Entrepreneurs

For many years the faith and work movement largely focused on helping Christians maintain their beliefs in the workplace and share the gospel when possible. But now we see an encouraging trend where new organizations and initiatives explore the broader dimensions of vocation and human flourishing. Praxis, for example, is a fascinating organization leading the effort to support Christian entrepreneurs compelled by their faith to advance the common good.

Dave Blanchard is the co-founder and president of Praxis, and I asked him to help us understand this developing trend among Christians in the marketplace. Praxis offers an accelerator fellowship program to advance the work of high-growth, pre-scale nonprofits and businesses led by Christ-followers. Applications for the 2014 Praxis Fellowship close on July 1 and can be completed at www.praxislabs.org. Follow them on Twitter @praxislabs and @dave_blanchard.

Why is entrepreneurship important for the church right now?

In a 2011 Kauffmann study, a stunning 54 percent of millennials said they want to start or join a startup. And as Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, noted recently on the cover of Fortune, "The most efficient means to spread an idea today is corporate structure." From Scott Harrison at charity: water to Jeff Skoll at Participant Media to Dov Charney at American Apparel, these founders are leaning on their core beliefs to shape our world, for better and for worse. Given this increasing influence and platform, we believe the future of culture depends largely on the worldview of entrepreneurs. This is nothing less than a massive opportunity for the church—not to "take over" but instead to demonstrate our faith in action—our orthopraxis. At Praxis, we often talk about gospel-minded entrepreneurship as an important apologetic for the 21st century.

What is a gospel-minded organization anyway? Praxis talks about wanting business leaders to embody the gospel in their work. What does this mean? How does it practically play out?

This is an important question. While the gospel is the good news of God's saving grace in the life of an individual, how does that message actually relate to an organization? When we receive God's Spirit, we are made new; we become a new creation with new life. As a result, we cannot help but live differently. Fundamentally, we experience a shift in our motivations, goals, and methods for achieving these things. Just as a gospel-minded person wakes up each day working out of that new mindset—they have been made new to reflect the glory of God—the same can be true for a gospel-minded organization. This entity—any organization is really the sum of its people—must think about what it wants to accomplish in light of God's regenerative work on earth and organize its operations in order to reflect those priorities. The gospel itself is a message, but its implications for business are rich with virtue.

Along with Josh Kwan and our mentor, friend, and board member Steve Graves, I authored a book entitled From Concept to Scale: Building a Gospel-Minded Organization that attempts offer some practical ideas and exercises for application as you construct your venture. From supply chain practices, to the worldview you market, to your concept itself, we think our faith is not only relevant but even essential to every component of the organization's activities. I'm also a big fan of Peter Kreeft's profound work Back to Virtue. In it, he outlines the four ancient virtues (wisdom, courage, justice, and moderation), the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and love), and a beautiful contrast of the eight beatitudes and the seven deadly sins. Read through an entrepreneurial lens, his content provides a fascinating way for every entrepreneur to think about creating a God-honoring organization that benefits our world.

What is Praxis, and how did it come to be?

In 2010, I was working at innovation firm IDEO, and God brought me together with Josh Kwan, a venture philanthropist. We shared interest in supporting high-impact entrepreneurs in their work and noticed a considerable gap around accelerating the faith-motivated entrepreneur's path to creating a scalable organization. From that insight, we created Praxis in an effort to help Christ-following entrepreneurs advance their work into the world. We currently run two annual fellowship programs, one for nonprofits and one for businesses. The program is focused on preparing both the venture and also the leader for the demands of rapid growth, and is based on four core offerings: providing world-class mentorship, a shared-faith peer community, access to capital sources, and significant hands-on support from our core Praxis team. More on the program details and application process is available here. Application, which closes July 1, is highly competitive, but once you are in, there's a truly incredible of community of people ready to pour into you and your work.

When you say "world-class" mentors, what does that look like?

We are incredibly blessed to have more than 25 volunteer mentors spend focused, one-on-one discussion time in person with our fellows at our events. In our business program, we have mentors such as Chi Hua Chien, partner at Kleiner Perkins; Greg Spencer, founder of Paradigm Project; and Nancy Duarte, founder of Duarte Design, the top presentation design firm in the world. For our non-profit program, we are grateful to have mentors ranging from Peter Greer, CEO of HOPE International; to Fred Smith, president of The Gathering; to David Weekley, founder of David Weekley Homes and the David Weekley Family Foundation. We are fortunate to have a group of remarkable people deep in both competency and also faith and put them around the next generation of Christian leaders.

Can you give us an example of the type of ventures Praxis fellows lead?

Jason Locy of FiveStone, a Praxis core mentor focused on story and design, says our fellows "look a lot like the body of Christ exposing the kingdom of God on earth." They are inspiring to work with and diverse. Sajan George of Matchbook Learning is turning around our nation's worst-performing public schools. Chris and Will Haughey of Tegu make high-end toys (read: job creation) in Honduras. Jimmy Lin of Rare Genomics is helping children with rare diseases use gene sequencing to discover what's wrong. Hannah Song and Justin Wheeler lead Liberty in North Korea, a group focused on reshaping the public perception of an oppressed country.

What do you look for in entrepreneurs you support?

First and foremost, we look for high-potential entrepreneurs who have a real interest in pursuing what it means to integrate their faith and their work. We're looking for leaders who feel called to their work, and typically have some sort of big idea they are expressing through their venture. They want to go to scale, to have big impact, and are on a high-growth trajectory that suggests they have a shot at it. When we started, some people asked us if there were really enough high-quality Christians out there involved in work at this level. Two years in, it has been amazing to uncover so many Christ-followers with incredible talent who are pouring their lives out to build these gospel-minded organizations.

If you could give advice to the Christ-following entrepreneur, what would it be?

There's much that could be said, but three things stand out. First, use the gospel as a generative construct, not simply a retro-fitting values device or ethics manual. We have an incredible opportunity to create radically different organizations that upend societal norms, transform and renew culture, and popularize important ideas from generosity and charity to using business as a vehicle to free the oppressed. Second, don't lose track of yourself in the entrepreneurial process. Our fellows' only prescribed homework is Gordon MacDonald's Ordering Your Private World. The taxing roller coaster of entrepreneurship can be stabilized with a structured life, healthy perspective, and disciplined practices like taking a Sabbath. Last, remember that God's version of success is not the world's. We are called to pray, work hard, be faithful and leave the results—much of which you cannot see nor will ever know—up to God. 

Showcase the Gospel in Living Color

"Showcase the Gospel in Living Color" follows the Chen couple as they meet their adopted son, Jacob, for the first time. This remarkably powerful and quality film shows the intimate moments when a couple becomes a family as the Chens hold Jacob for the first time. As you will see, adoption can be an outward witness to and expression of worship for God's adoption of us—and a way to showcase the gospel in living color to the world (Gal. 4:4-7).

Austin Stone Church has launched an incredible adoption campaign to try and adopt all 244 kids needing adoption in the city of Austin, Texas. They have also created an extensive foster care initiative to provide Christian homes to children who need a family.

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The Storyframes Collective is a collaborative effort between The Gospel Coalition and the Austin Stone Church for the purpose of celebrating the extraordinary work of God in the lives of ordinary people. Through excellence in the art of storytelling (film, photojournalism, spoken word, and writing), this project aims to recount God's redemptive, transforming work in the lives of our brothers and sisters. In form, this website collects encouraging stories about God's grace. In function, we want these stories to inspire you to praise God.

As a collective, we hope that people from around the world will join us in collecting and telling the amazing stories of God's grace and the power of the gospel. We hope this project will increase your faith, encourage your spirit, and open your eyes to the extraordinary work of God every day in your life and in the lives of others around you.

While these stories differ in characters, formats, and locations, they share the same hero: God. Whether highlighting addiction recovery, healing, renewal, transformation, or any other form of good news, they testify to God's power and grace, made available to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

We hope you not only enjoy reading, hearing, and seeing these stories, but also take time to observe the stories of those around you. Tell others the story of what God has done for the world in Jesus Christ, and tell us your story—what God has done in you.

God's Goodness in the Deepest Pain

The Storyframes Collective is a collaborative effort between The Gospel Coalition and the Austin Stone Church for the purpose of celebrating the extraordinary work of God in the lives of ordinary people. Through excellence in the art of storytelling (film, photojournalism, spoken word, and writing), this project aims to recount God's redemptive, transforming work in the lives of our brothers and sisters. In form, this website collects encouraging stories about God's grace. In function, we want these stories to inspire you to praise God.

As a collective, we hope that people from around the world will join us in collecting and telling the amazing stories of God's grace and the power of the gospel. We hope this project will increase your faith, encourage your spirit, and open your eyes to the extraordinary work of God every day in your life and in the lives of others around you.

While these stories differ in characters, formats, and locations, they share the same hero: God. Whether highlighting addiction recovery, healing, renewal, transformation, or any other form of good news, they testify to God's power and grace, made available to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

We hope you not only enjoy reading, hearing, and seeing these stories, but also take time to observe the stories of those around you. Tell others the story of what God has done for the world in Jesus Christ, and tell us your story—what God has done in you.

Treasure the Promise

In this powerful video, part of The Journey's Stories of Change project, Matthew and Sarah Harms recount their experience of learning to trust God's goodness through a deeply painful loss. Raising a daughter with disabilities and losing another have led them to treasure the promise that God is working all things together for their good and his glory (Rom. 8:28).

Whether I Live or Die, God Wins

The Storyframes Collective is a collaborative effort between The Gospel Coalition and the Austin Stone Church for the purpose of celebrating the extraordinary work of God in the lives of ordinary people. Through excellence in the art of storytelling (film, photojournalism, spoken word, and writing), this project aims to recount God's redemptive, transforming work in the lives of our brothers and sisters. In form, this website collects encouraging stories about God's grace. In function, we want these stories to inspire you to praise God.

As a collective, we hope that people from around the world will join us in collecting and telling the amazing stories of God's grace and the power of the gospel. We hope this project will increase your faith, encourage your spirit, and open your eyes to the extraordinary work of God every day in your life and in the lives of others around you.

While these stories differ in characters, formats, and locations, they share the same hero: God. Whether highlighting addiction recovery, healing, renewal, transformation, or any other form of good news, they testify to God's power and grace, made available to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

We hope you not only enjoy reading, hearing, and seeing these stories, but also take time to observe the stories of those around you. Tell others the story of what God has done for the world in Jesus Christ, and tell us your story—what God has done in you.

Real Life

Ever since Jen McManus was first diagnosed with a malignant tumor, she's been fighting—fighting against cancer, and fighting for hope. However, far from being rooted in the vagueness of wishful thinking, Jen's hope is anchored in the certainty of Christ's love.

"Cancer has made death more real—and the gospel more real," she says in this narrated gallery. "I'm joyful because of the gospel and because of the story God is telling through my life."

Songs for the Book of Luke: Music By the Church, for the Church

This year, in conjunction with our National Conference, The Gospel Coalition has released Songs for the Book of Luke, a collection of songs written and recorded by church musicians from across the country.

What's held out as the "Gold Standard" of contemporary worship is often far from theologically sound. At its best, it's emotional, contemporary, and relevant; at its worst, it's divorced from both Scripture and also the heritage of hymn-singing and psalm-singing that has shaped Christian worship for a couple of millennia.

Fortunately, that's not the whole story in Christian music these days. Many gifted songwriters, pastors, and artists serve local congregations with an eye toward both beauty and truth. They care about congregational singing. They care about content that can strengthen the weak and comfort the suffering. They care about creativity, embodying the psalmists' call to "sing a new song."

We want to highlight and encourage that work. After a nation-wide call for entries, more than 200 songs were submitted. Those were narrowed down to this collection of 13 songs, all rooted in the scriptures, all written for local congregations. The album was recorded last fall by Mike Cosper (of Sojourn Music) and a band assembled with church musicians from Florida, New England, Seattle, and many places in between. These artists have played with national touring acts and jazz legends, but more importantly, they are musicians who regularly get up in while it's still dark on Sunday mornings to serve local congregations. It's truly music by the church, for the church.

In just a couple of weeks, we'll be gathering at our National Conference, spending these days together meditating on the Book of Luke. On Tuesday night, April 9, we'll have a special concert to release this record. Part of the reason that TGC exists is to seek out and highlight the good work being done at local churches. I think this record accomplishes that purpose beautifully, and I think you'll agree.

Check out the record hereYou can preorder it now and receive the full record as a digital download immediately at our bandcamp page.

The album will be available nationwide (and pre-orders will ship) on Tuesday, April 9—the same day as our concert at the National Conference.

Just Announced: TGC13 Post-Conference on Faith and Work

The Gospel Coalition is excited to announce a post-conference at the 2013 National Conference at Rosen Shingle Creek. This free event will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10. Tim Keller and several other leaders in the church, marketplace, and broader culture will focus on a variety of issues related to the Christian faith and its role in our work and vocation.

More details, including a full schedule and lineup of speakers, will be available soon. So make your travel arrangements accordingly or adjust them if you can. There is no need to register separately for this event.