MinistryWatch’s Top 10 Stories for the Month of January
The following stories had the most page views at the MinistryWatch website during the month of January. We present them here in a “countdown” format, from 10 to 1. The first few sentences of each story are reproduced below. To read the entire story, click on the link. To read the Top 15 stories of 2021, click here.
The Bible translation industry takes in about $500 million per year in donations. With all that money, it only produces about 15 completed Bible translations each year…Still, Bible translation organizations continue to raise money making ambitious claims that are either verifiably false, or – more often – impossible to verify because of a lack of transparency in the industry. These are some of the reasons an effort by Strategic Resource Group (SRG) caught my attention. They have embarked on an experiment to see if a secular company – a Translation Service Providers, or TSPs – can translate the Bible. The project leader for this initiative is Jane Schoen, the director of Strategic Initiatives for SRG…They are starting with three languages – two in Saudi Arabia and one in Pakistan. I wrote an article about the beginning of this effort in August of 2021, and now, almost six months later, I check in with Jane Schoen for an update. I plan to continue checking in periodically to see how the project is going.
A Chicago circuit court has dismissed an appeal from a former pastor in an Evangelical Covenant-connected church who said he lost his position after the ECC took too long to investigate a sexual abuse claim against him that was eventually dismissed. Neil Taylor was suspended as pastor of Jesus People in 2017 after an individual he and his wife had cared for as a child accused him of sexual abuse in the 1970s, before he became a pastor. Taylor was credentialed as an ECC pastor in 1989 and ordained in 2004. According to court records, Taylor reported the accusation to the ECC in June 2017 and was subsequently told he was not allowed to preach, teach, or attend church until the matter was resolved, leading Jesus People USA to hire a different pastor.
The Point Church, a prominent multi-site church near Raleigh, N.C., announced this week that it would be moving away from its multi-site model, and that its Lead Pastor Chris Hankins would be transitioning out of that role into part-time “Lead Missionary” role. In a letter to the church, Hankins said, “I have become overwhelmed with doing tasks that are outside of the specific calling God has placed on my life. I have been increasingly consumed with the administrative side of church governance and trying to keep our large and complicated church organized, aligned and running properly.” Hankins said he believed the new role would allow him to “be much closer to God’s calling on my life and allow me to be a champion of our church pastors rather than a supervisor.”
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Allegations of sexual misconduct began surfacing against televangelist Perry Stone last year. His Cleveland, Tennessee-based ministry, Voice of Evangelism, announced in July that he had taken a leave of absence after admitting that he had acted inappropriately with female employees…But a few months later, Stone was back in the pulpit. Now, new accusations have been made public, and – according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press – the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been questioning people in connection with Stone’s behavior.
Tennessee megachurch pastor Tavner Smith said he is taking a month’s sabbatical to “spend some time with God” and get counseling after several staff members quit his church amid allegations he was having an affair with an employee. Smith, who leads Venue Church in Chattanooga, said in an Instagram post January 6 he would be back in February after taking time to “fill up” so he could come back “rested, refreshed and ready for the rest of the year.” “I love you and I’ll see you in February,” he said. Eight church employees quit the week before Christmas after confronting Smith about a video that surfaced allegedly showing the pastor kissing a woman who is not his wife, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
I have always been fascinated by obituaries, and my experience as a journalist tells me I’m not alone. I used to think it was because they reminded me of my mortality. Even the Bible says it is better to go to a funeral than to a banquet (Ecclesiastes 7:2), because it sets our minds on eternal things. I think the obituaries of famous people add an even deeper understanding to this verse. John Calvin famously said the human heart is an idol-making factory. Remembering that we are all subject to physical death – all of us, even the mighty — is a partial antidote to the kind of idol-making Calvin described. On the other hand, it’s also important to remember what C.S. Lewis once wrote: “You have never met a mere mortal?” What he meant by that is that we all live forever.
This is a list of the Top 15 stories of the year, as ranked by the number of page views at the MinistryWatch website, plus a bit of description and commentary for each story. To hear Warren Cole Smith and Christina Darnell discuss this list, click here. To see the Top 10 Stories of 2020, click here.
Proverbs 31 Ministries founder and president Lysa TerKeurst announced on social media Jan. 1 that she and her husband Art are getting divorced. “I now believe the wisest (and hardest) choice I can make is to stop fighting to save my marriage of 29 years and, instead, accept reality,” she said in an Instagram post. TerKeurst is the bestselling author of 22 books, including 2018’s “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered,” in which she detailed the aftermath of discovering her husband’s infidelity, the process of grief and healing she went through during their separation, and their seeming relational restoration…But TerKeurst said in her Instagram post that although she and her husband had renewed their wedding vows three years ago, the marriage could not survive “the devastation of what consistent deception of one spouse does to the other.”
On New Year’s Day, 43 congregations of the Reformed Church in America split from the national denomination, one of the oldest Protestant bodies in the United States, in part over theological differences regarding same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy. The departure of the theologically conservative congregations to the new group, the Alliance of Reformed Churches, leaves some who remain in the RCA concerned for the denomination’s survival. Before the split, the nearly 400-year-old denomination had fewer than 200,000 members and 1,000 churches. At least 125 churches from various denominations are in conversation with ARC leaders about joining.
This is a list of 100 highly paid Christian ministry executives. The information was derived from the Form 990 prepared by the ministry itself. We are not calling this list the “Highest Paid Christian Ministry Executives” because we know that many pastors and other church leaders who might make more are not on this list, because churches are not required to make their Form 990s available to the public.