By Michael C. Mack
In June at the North American Christian Convention in Kansas City, I met Marshall Hayden, retired minister of Worthington (Ohio) Christian Church. We stood in front of our Christian Standard Media booth and talked about his dad, Edwin Hayden, editor from 1957 to 1977, and the newly designed July issue. Like Sam Stone, editor from 1978 to 2003, and Mark Taylor, 2003 to 2017, two men I’ve known and respected for many years, Marshall strongly encouraged me in my new role.
These three men—Edwin, Sam, and Mark—and the eight editors before them have left a legacy in this magazine and our movement. I’m indebted to them and, to be honest, I’m feeling inadequate, too.
I believe this sense of inadequacy is a good thing. It reminds us of people like Gideon, Moses, and Mary who also felt unqualified when initially called into God’s work. It reminds us that in our weakness, God is strong.
Bob Cherry recently spoke at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, the church he planted 40 years ago and from which he retired last year. He reminded us that “God never calls us to a comfortable life. He calls us to what is hard.” Feeling inadequate when we hear God’s call is a natural initial response to a commitment that demands more than our natural abilities can muster. We need God’s power. We need prayer. We need to trust him. After all, spiritual leadership is not about us; it’s simply the overflow of what God pours into our lives from his limitless resources for his glory.
In this issue, you’ll read about people who have taken bold, risky steps of faith, especially in urban ministry settings like Charleston, South Carolina; North St. Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana; Phoenix, Arizona; and Joliet, Illinois. Each of these leaders came to a crossroads in their stories where I’m sure they too felt inadequate in their own power for the task before them. Yet they chose to move forward, trusting God to do what only he can do—and that’s one of the main principles I hope every reader takes away from this issue. These leaders are examples and encouragers for us to, like them, be strong and courageous, to not be afraid or discouraged, because we know our God will be with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9).
On a personal note, I appreciate the many words of encouragement Jerry Harris and I have received about our July and August issues, our first two as publisher and editor. I believe the articles in this one will inform and inspire you as well. I hope you read it from cover to cover. Be ready to be encouraged . . . and challenged . . . and changed!