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Top 10 MinistryWatch Stories in January: Financial Transparency, Leadership Controversies, and Ministry Challenges

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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 25 stories of 2023, click here.

  1. Salem Media to Delist Stock From NASDAQ, Eyeing OTC Markets

By Shannon Cuthrell. Salem Media Group, a publicly traded Christian media and broadcasting giant, plans to voluntarily remove its stock from the Nasdaq. The move comes after Salem fell out of compliance with the $1 minimum bid price for continued listing on the Nasdaq Global Market.

  1. Churches Face Fines for Providing Warming Shelters During Winter Months

By Brittany Smith. This week, much of the U.S. is experiencing dangerously cold temperatures. Over 120 million people were under wind chill alerts as of Monday, and the National Weather Service issued a warning to “avoid outside activities if possible.” In these conditions, what happens to the unhoused? Many churches are stepping up to provide overnight warming shelters for those experiencing homelessness in their cities. But not without a cost—both financially and, for some, legally.

  1. Editor’s Notebook: Are We Paying Ministry Leaders Too Much?

By Warren Cole Smith. MinistryWatch’s annual lists of highly paid executives (one for Christian ministries and one for colleges and universities), just published, are among our most read posts of the year. They also generate the most questions and comments. I’m going to take this “Editor’s Notebook” column to answer some of these questions, and to ask a few of my own.

  1. Mike Breen Leaves APEX Church Following Sexual Misconduct

By Warren Cole Smith. Author and pastor Mike Breen has resigned from his role as “lead communicator” at APEX Church in Dayton, Ohio. The resignation comes after he confessed to an extended sexual affair with a vulnerable member of their church.

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  1. Bishop T.D. Jakes Preaches at Md. Revival in Wake of Rumors

By Adelle M. Banks. On the stage of First Baptist Church of Glenarden International, Bishop T.D. Jakes didn’t spend much time preaching from the lectern at center stage of the megachurch. But as he expounded on the biblical story of Joshua succeeding Moses, it was not readily apparent that two weeks before, rumors of the kind that might have led to his own succession had gone viral on social media.

  1. American Family Radio Drops Alistair Begg Program

By Daniel Ritchie. American Family Radio (AFR), a broadcast division of American Family Association (AFA), announced Wednesday it will no longer air Alistair Begg’s radio program “Truth For Life” because of remarks Begg made last year about Christians attending LGBTQ weddings. The controversy stems from a September 2023 interview in which Begg promotes his book “The Christian Manifesto.” In the interview, he detailed counsel he had given a grandmother who was asking for advice on attending her grandson’s wedding to someone who identified as transgender.

  1. Can Journalism Save Evangelicalism?

By Warren Cole Smith. If you have been paying attention to the news — and you are journalists, so I know you have — I do not need to tell you that the institutions of civil society are in disrepair. It is distressingly easy to find examples of this disrepair in the evangelical church:  Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek. Bill Gothard. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University. In every case I just mentioned, neither the government, nor the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, nor denominations, nor the boards of these ministries have brought those stories into the open.

  1. 100 Highest Paid Christian College and University Executives — 2024

By Warren Cole Smith. Below is a list of 100 highly paid Christian college and university executives. The information was derived from the latest available Form 990 prepared by the ministry itself. In years past, we have included the executives on this list in our annual list of “Highly Compensated Ministry Executives,” published Tuesday. However, as our database has grown it became obvious that we had enough data for two lists that provide more of an “apples to apples” comparison. Thus this second list.

  1. Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church Pays off $100-M Loan

By Zach Rivas. Joel Osteen, the longtime pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, was brought to tears last Sunday (Jan. 14) as he announced the church had paid off its nearly 20-year debt. “My big announcement today is that as of December 31 of last year we have officially paid off the $100 million loan,” Osteen said to his congregation of nearly 16,000 and millions more watching online.

  1. 100 Highly Paid Ministry Executives — 2024

By Warren Cole Smith. Below is a list of 100 highly paid Christian ministry executives. The information was derived from the latest available 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.

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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