By Jerry Harris
Why is the survival of CHRISTIAN STANDARD so important and what does it offer that other magazines don’t?
Other magazines like Relevant, Outreach, and Christianity Today offer lots of good commentary and resourcing for churches and leaders in general, but they represent no actual tribe. CHRISTIAN STANDARD is critical to the Restoration Movement because it serves a vital role unique to us.
We are comprised of about 5,300 churches, all autonomous, without any denominational support to hold us together. It’s one of our greatest strengths, but without something connecting us regularly, we can lose much of the potential of our influence. If we can pull together while maintaining that autonomy, we can be an unstoppable force for the kingdom!
That’s our mission at CHRISTIAN STANDARD . . . to capture the power that comes from our unity. We want to discover the most vibrant ministries, the best innovations, the most accessible resources, the greatest voices, and the best practices God has blessed within the Restoration Movement.
We want to be an encouragement to those caught up in the daily struggle of ministry who feel isolated and alone.
We want to fill the void that can be the dark side of our autonomy with relationships and opportunities that build each other up to give us maximum effectiveness for our Lord.
In order to accomplish this, our work will flow out of five core values:
To present a greater harvest to God, knowing that we accomplish more by working together.
To press for our commonalities while being respectful of our differences.
To push innovation and relevance without compromising our core beliefs.
To pull each other up through reproof, rebuke, and encouragement.
To pass our great heritage on to the next generation.
This is what CHRISTIAN STANDARD was to be from the beginning. It’s original core values were: “1. To turn the world to Jesus Christ. 2. The union of believers in the fellowship of the gospel. 3. The education of Christians into a nobler spiritual life” (from Sketches of our Pioneers by Frederick D. Power and Bradley S. Cobb, 2013, 146).
You’re going to see a different look. We are going to make CHRISTIAN STANDARD more of a leadership journal, concentrating on the “nuts and bolts” of located ministry. We will be inspired by our greatest preachers and leaders, remember great leaders from our storied past, hear the successes of our next generation, learn how to leverage our resources and finances most effectively, press into issues of unity and reconciliation, and celebrate the harvest God is providing. You’ll hear fresh voices and fresh ideas that make sense, and you’ll have lots of opportunities for speaking out yourself.
Sure, God’s doing some awesome things in our megachurches, but we need to hear what’s going on in all our churches across the country. Do you realize that of our 5,300 churches, only 305 report an average of more than 250 in weekly attendance? That means nearly 5,000 of our churches run under 250! These churches have great stories of what God is doing that need to be told! Our movement is full of great stories and leaders who need to be heard. That’s why feedback and conversation will be a critical part of this approach.
We will hear from all of the groups that organize us both nationally and internationally. The NACC, ICOM, CIY, Exponential, Bible colleges and universities, and our extension funds—all helping us to be more than just a collection of churches. CHRISTIAN STANDARD will reflect the voices of our movement so that in each church and from each pulpit, the message of the gospel, fully connected and resourced, will be its most effective and impactful in building the great kingdom of our Lord.
Let other magazines talk about all those things we can’t afford, that don’t apply, and that won’t make a difference. Let’s let our unity, like iron, sharpen the iron of our fellowship until we make the most of every opportunity God lays before us.
Jerry Harris, pastor with The Crossing in Quincy, Illinois, assumes full duties as publisher of CHRISTIAN STANDARD with its July issue.