When I tell people I work for The Gospel Coalition, they almost always ask me if that's a full-time job. I don't think they intend to insult me. They just don't know what we do.
That's fair, because sometimes I lose track of everything we're planning and preparing. It's a good idea, then, to spend some time at the end of the year to reflect on how we've seen God at work through our daily editorial content, international outreach, national and regional conferences, print publishing, and special projects. We have a great staff and team of teachers who contribute their considerable time and talent to serve Christians by producing and promoting gospel-centered resources.
This year we followed up our Spanish outreach by collaborating with a sharp, ambitious team to launch a French site. Look for many more translations and international writers to come as TGC International Outreach builds on the more than 63,000 physical resources distributed in 2013 in 11 languages to 40 countries. To further God's remarkable work in local church music we recorded Songs for the Book of Luke, an award-winning album written by church musicians and intended to serve their peers in worship leading. We also dedicated a blog to asking and answering questions of particular concern to church musicians. Partnering with Keith and Kristyn Getty we recorded an album of modern and traditional hymns sung live at TGC's 2013 National Conference. Near the end of the year we released "Exult in the Saviour's Birth," a special Advent hymn written by TGC president D. A. Carson and TGC Worship editor Matt Boswell. And to help your children learn theology, we're streaming 111 Songs for Saplings adapted from the Westminster Shorter Catechism and incorporated into the New City Catechism app. Behind these any many other special projects you'll usually find TGC executive director Ben Peays. For another example see the Storyframes Collective, which celebrates the extraordinary work of God in the lives of ordinary people through excellence in the art of storytelling.
During 2013 TGC also expanded our print publishing in partnership with Crossway. In the coming years you will begin to see more books written specifically by women addressing cultural issues, as well as unique resources focused on faith and work. This cooperative effort expanded our editorial team with new gifted writers and thinkers, including Gloria Furman and Bethany Jenkins. In time for TGC's 2014 National Women's Conference we will release our next LifeWay Bible study curriculum, written by Kathleen Nielson. We started this trend in 2013 with the release of The Gospel of Luke from the Outside In, written by David Morlan and edited by Carson. Other LifeWay projects are in the works for 2014 and beyond. Speaking of curriculum, we have contracted with The Good Book Company to produce a series of five guides intended to help pastors and other ministry leaders orient their churches around the marks of gospel-centered ministry outlined in TGC's theological vision of ministry.
As always TGC events connected like-minded believers and equipped churches to make the gospel of Jesus Christ central in everything they say and do. You could devote months to watching and listening to free media from our 2013 national conference in Orlando (translated into five languages). As our staff fanned out around the world, I represented TGC by speaking at regional conferences in such diverse religious contexts as Boston and Birmingham, Alabama, not to mention an international outreach trip through Italy. Next year's most anticipated international event for us will convene in Geneva with TGC co-founders Carson and Tim Keller. So long as God continues to open doors for the gospel we'll continue to pray for discernment and walk through them in faith.
My 10 Favorite Resources
Perhaps my greatest privilege as editorial director of TGC is taking a daily big-picture look at the various resources we're publishing at the site. I benefit from working with exceptional editors and humble writers who consider first how they can honor God and second how they can serve you, our readers, with relevant content. So far this year we've reached nearly 9.4 million readers with a 31 percent increase in pageviews compared to 2012. And we're hopeful that a new website look early in 2014 will aid in this growth. This response affirms us, but it's not the primary metric by which we judge success. From TGC's foundation documents we pray that God would work in and through us to accomplish this aim: "to renew the contemporary church in the ancient gospel of Christ so that we truly speak and live for him in a way that clearly communicates to our age."
Judging by that criteria, I have compiled a list of my 10 favorite 2013 resources. Please join me in giving thanks to God for how he always provides for us in a timely fashion with timeless wisdom.
Review by Joni Eareckson Tada
I have already commended this Tim Keller book to anyone who has suffered or may someday suffer—that is, all of us. And the interview I recorded with Keller goes into details about how he organized the book and what he hopes to accomplish. The review by Joni Eareckson Tada, though, will truly reveal the importance of this work. As someone who has suffered a great deal, she admits skepticism about books on this topic. But she says Keller has given us the most comprehensive book on suffering, a volume that will "wake us up out of our spiritual slumber and get us thinking rightly about the character and compassion of God in these dark, difficult times."
By Philip G. Ryken
If Ryken, TGC Council member and president of Wheaton College, had written the positive angle on this story—"How to Encourage Artists in the Church"—I can guarantee the reaction would have been fairly negative. That's because most of us struggle to relate to artists, so we unwittingly discourage them in our dismissive words and actions. Clearly the overwhelming response to this article reveals some tension over the arts in the church. As a pastor committed to the centrality of God's Word in preaching, Ryken helps bridge the divide between artists and other ministry leaders.
By M. Connor
Last year we published a widely read article from M. Connor about why she walked away before her wedding day. Talking with this new believer I realized she was not just holding out for a better offer. She understood God may never provide her with a husband and children. But she chose to side with her Savior rather than marry a man who did not share her dedication to trust Christ above all. This year we rejoiced to share the beautiful conclusion to the story as she married a godly man she met on the very day last year she was supposed to get married.
By Matt Smethurst
If you visit TGC's site with any regularity then you owe associate editor Matt Smethurst more thanks than you probably know. In this provocative reflection on Michael Jordan on the occasion of his 50th birthday, Smethurst combines a childhood love for basketball with a mature concern for the superstar's spirit. We have no greater parable of a man who has gained the world but seems to have lost his soul.
By Mark Dever
I said at the time we published this article that it was perhaps the most helpful and encouraging resource I've ever edited for TGC. I stand by that judgment today. Christians rack our brains and wrings our hands over cultural engagement in a changing and discouraging world. But Mark Dever, TGC Council member and senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., offers such profoundly sensible and biblical counsel that I wonder if we often try to substitute complexity for unfaithfulness. Read and re-read the seven principles he offers in this article.
Interview by Collin Hansen
Nearly every day I speak with pastors around the world who look up to men like John Piper but only know his life from his sermons, conference messages, and books. They don't know about his struggles and regrets. They don't know about his day-to-day pastoral care. We covered those topics and much more in an interview recorded shortly after Piper, a TGC Council member, stepped down as senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
By Jen Wilkin
Even when she's writing on topics such as parenting, where I don't have any experience, I always enjoy reading Wilkin. She sees challenges and opportunities in the church that I overlook. Such is the case in this article that encourages us who believe only men should serve as elders in the church to still pursue women and employ their gifts. We can't just permit women to serve in the church if that means we're unwittingly passive and dismissive toward their service. This line still sticks with me today: "End the culture of permission and you will dispel the stigma of submission."
By Betsy Childs
Believe it or not we heard from a number of concerned readers who did not realize this piece is satire. To be clear, I don't think satire is the main or even the most helpful way to open the eyes of our neighbors to the horrors of abortion. But neither does Betsy Childs, who works down the hall from me at Beeson Divinity School. She often volunteers to counsel mothers headed to the abortion clinic down the street from her apartment in Birmingham, Alabama. And she's a strong advocate for adoption so mothers understand they have a viable option to abortion. By various means may God sear our consciences and end this every-day tragedy.
Review by Douglas J. Moo
Only a renowned New Testament scholar such as Moo could so quickly and diligently read and review N. T. Wright's definitive work on the apostle to the Gentiles. Wright has stirred up no little controversy over the years in debates over the New Perspective and the relationship between justification by faith and judgment according to works. In this review Moo identified the core concerns of Wright's critics without dredging up all the old antipathy.
Video with David Platt, John Piper, and Matt Chandler
You may notice we talk a lot about pain and suffering at TGC. That's because the Western world seems so reluctant to do so. And you might wonder what such young and seemingly successful ministers like David Platt and Matt Chandler could know about suffering. That's because much of the church seems to assume that if you love God and do the right things you can probably avoid the hard stuff in life. Sooner or later every one of us will suffer, because every one of us will die and lose the ones we love. Thanks be to God in Christ that he even though he does not promise us good circumstances he guarantees us his loving-kindness and everlasting rest.
God's Goodness in Your Pain from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.