Editor’s Choice: The Best MinistryWatch Stories of 2022
Sometimes the stories with the most page views, or “clicks,” are not the most important stories of the year.
So it is here at MinistryWatch. Some of the most significant stories we did in 2022 flew under the radar, so to speak. Because they were not personality or “celebrity” driven, they might have gone unnoticed.
So here is a list of the stories we here at MinistryWatch consider to be our best stories of the year, not because they broke news or got the most page views or featured a celebrity, but because they shed important light on issues shaping the evangelical church and served donors who want to be more effective stewards of the resources God has entrusted to them.
They are presented here chronologically, beginning with January 2022.
Outsourcing Bible Translation by Warren Cole Smith (January 17, 2022)
The Bible translation industry takes in about $500 million per year in donations. With all that money, it produces about 15 completed Bible translations each year. That comes to more than $30 million per completed Bible translation. At this pace, it will take $60-billion and more than 130 years to translate the Bible into the remaining languages that do not yet have a translation. Is there a better way to accomplish this vital task? This interview with Strategic Resource Group’s Jane Schoen explores that question — and provides answers.
Balancing Security and Transparency In the Work of Christian Aid and Missions by Kim Roberts (January 25, 2022)
Christians sometimes must operate in dangerous parts of the world. For these missionaries, security is a real concern. But should those concerns be an excuse for a lack of transparency on the part of the parent organizations operating in the United States? This article examines important questions related to security and transparency.
IRS Backlog Is A Blow To Transparency Efforts by Shannon Cuthrell (April 11, 2022)
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service continues to experience delays in processing last year’s tax returns. Millions of tax returns and filings are still backlogged, including those in the Form 990 series, an annual reporting obligation by tax-exempt entities, including Christian ministries. Like the operational bottlenecks impacting bureaucracies everywhere, the root issues behind these delays trace back to early 2020 when the IRS shut most of its offices and taxpayer assistance centers, discontinued face-to-face interactions, and suspended its phone help lines. Operations have mostly resumed since then, but the agency still isn’t caught up.
Pro-life Speaker’s Career Unravels Over Unverified Rape Claim by Steve Rabey (June 2, 2022)
2022 was supposed to be a big year for Jennifer Christie and her ministry Love Louder. Her story of giving birth to a child conceived through rape was set to be published in a book from Focus on the Family and Tyndale House, and she signed a contract with Ambassador Speakers Bureau. Now, the book and speaking contract have been cancelled, and Abby Johnson, the pro-life speaker and author whose story was told in the 2019 movie Unplanned, has switched from being one of Christie’s most visible supporters to publicly criticizing her and warning people away from supporting her financially. This story is a cautionary tale about the “star-making machinery” of the evangelical church.
The Top Six Risky Habits Of Pastors in Trouble by Phil Cooke (June 3, 2022)
We don’t publish a lot of opinion pieces here at MinistryWatch. News is our “brand,” not punditry. But occasionally an opinion piece comes along that is right up our alley, and this article by Phil Cooke is one of them. Many of you thought so, too, as this article was one of our most read and most shared articles of the year.
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Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers Outnumber Abortion Clinics While Offering Compassion and Tangible Help by Kim Roberts (August 1, 2022)
While there has been a prevailing narrative since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June that pro-lifers don’t care about women, the facts tell a different story. For over 50 years, even preceding the Roe v. Wade decision, Christians have been serving women in unexpected or crisis pregnancies.
ARP Nears Closure of $8.5 Million Retirement Fund Deficit by Shannon Cuthrell (August 15, 2022)
The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, a small denomination of about 264 churches, narrowly averted a crisis last year when it raided every fund it could find to cover an $8.5 million shortfall in its retirement fund. After discovering the extent of the deficit a few years ago, the South Carolina-headquartered organization moved to reallocate its assets and transition its defined-benefit (pension) plan to a defined-contribution model.
From Shoeboxes To War Zones: How Samaritan’s Purse Became A Billion-Dollar Humanitarian Aid Powerhouse by Yonat Shimron (September 12, 2022)
The war in Ukraine has focused attention on Samaritan’s Purse. The Christian relief organization estimates it has helped 5.5 million Ukrainians with medicine, food and water. Earlier in the conflict, it also operated an emergency field hospital and outpatient clinic in Lviv, treating an estimated 17,758 patients. It now supports 30 medical facilities across the war-ravaged country. This story explains how they are able to deploy so much so quickly to far-flung regions of the world.
Sagamore Institute Study Attempts To Quantify The Cost of Bible Translation by Warren Cole Smith (September 14, 2022)
Bible translation organizations in the United States receive more than $500-million in donations per year. So how many Bibles actually get translated? And how much does a Bible translation cost? Remarkably, the answer to that question is: Nobody really knows. That’s why the Sagamore Institute, an Indiana-based think tank, recently did a study to analyze the cost and use of funds in Bible translation. You might think that was a step in the right direction, but the bad news is that even after the study, we still don’t know.
Turning Point Faith Ups Political Pressure on America’s Pastors by Steve Rabey (September 28, 2022)
Charlie Kirk was 18 in 2012 when he founded Turning Point USA, a secular, politically conservative nonprofit that is endorsed by many Christian ministries, with a $10,000 donation. A decade later, Kirk remains youthful-looking but TPUSA has matured into a $55 million, 450-employee organization that, through its subsidiary Turning Point Faith targets Christian leaders in a battle to address the “crisis of faith in America,” meaning the loss of faith in American founding principles, not a crisis of theology.
Examining the Practice of Mission Support-Raising and Expense Reporting by Shannon Cuthrell (October 28, 2022)
One of the many factors distinguishing much missions-related work from the average job – even the average ministry job — is the expectation of fundraising your own salary. The support-raising model raises questions about reciprocity and transparency, but has largely gone unexamined for decades. This story asks whether that model best serves the mission of the church today.
A $100-M Ad Campaign Wants to Fix Jesus’ Image, But Will It Work? By Warren Cole Smith (November 1, 2022)
This story both highlights one of the most expensive evangelistic campaigns in history, and asks whether such campaigns are effective.
Bob Jones University Alumni Rally Around Embattled President by Steve Rabey (November 9, 2022)
Christian institutions face a never-ending challenge: Which cultural changes should we embrace as we prepare for the future? The challenge is starker at Bob Jones University, the bastion of American fundamentalism for nearly a century. Disagreements over changes made at the school during the eight-year tenure of Steve Pettit, the school’s fifth president and first from outside the Jones family, broke out following an October 4 board meeting in which some board members said they would let Pettit go rather than renew his current contract.