THE WOMBATS | DONALD MILLER | WAVVES | 2016 PREDICTIONS | LANGHORNE SLIM | MUTEMATH | STEPHEN COLBERT FAITH, CULTURE & INTENTIONAL LIVING
R E L E VA N T M A G A Z I N E . C O M
JON ACUFF ON
BEATING YOUR QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS
S E X , D RU G S A N D T HE R EDEMP T ION O F O N E O F H I PHOP’S BIG GEST NA MES ISSUE 79 | JAN_FEB 2016 | $4.95
THE MAGA ZINE ON FAITH, CULTURE & INTENTIONAL LIVING
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016, ISSUE 79 This ish crae
Publisher & CEO | CAMERON STRANG Senior Account Manager | MATT BLAHNIK Account Manager | RACHEL DOUGLASS Editorial Director | AARON CLINE HANBURY Senior Editor | JESSE CAREY Associate Editor | DARGAN THOMPSON Editorial Coordinator | LINDSEY STATON Social Media Coordinator | TIFFANIE BRUNSON Contributing Writers: Jon Acuff, John Brandon, Matt Conner, Debra Fileta, Josh Hayes, Tyler Huckabee, Michael Mahan, John Maxwell, Scot McKnight, David Roark, Scott Sauls, C. Christopher Smith, Laura Studarus, Kate Tracy, Eric VanValin Contributing Photographers: Patrick Chin, Matilda Finn, Cat Roif Contributing Designer: Angel Acevedo Designer | JOHN DAVID HARRIS Designer | DANIEL BARCELO Videographer | DOUG JACKSON Photographer | ABBY COX Audio Producer | JEREMIAH DUNLAP Digital Development Director | STEVEN LINN Project Manager | NIKKI GRAHAM Circulation & User Experience Manager | AME LYNN DUNN Customer Experience Coordinator | CAROLINE COLE Finance Manager | MERCEDES SIMON Facilities Coordinator | ERIC WARD Operations Assistant | JESSICA COLLINS Systems Administrator | JOSH STROHM ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: www.RELEVANTmagazine.com/advertise
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A LET TER FROM THE EDITOR
WE CAN DO BETTER BY CAMERON STR ANG
2016. You know what this means, right? (Other than time is clearly speeding up.) It’s another insane/stressful/chaotic/divisive election year—which, aside from the whole “democracy is awesome and we should all be participatory citizens” thing, is pretty much the worst thing ever. Especially if you’re a thinking Christian. Every year, as magazines are wont to do, we like to poll RELEVANT readers. We ask how we’re doing, and what they want to see in the magazine. Then we sneak in my favorite question: “What do you think of RELEVANT’s political content?” Pretty much every year, 11 If you have a biblical perpercent of the respondents say spective, you won’t be in full we’re too conservative for their tastes. And 11 percent say we’re agreement with either party. too liberal. Seventy-eight percent say we’re balanced. To me, that is the goal. There will always be a fringe you can’t reason with. But as long as most of us are engaged in thoughtful dialogue, meaningful change can happen. When it comes to politics in the magazine, we try to steer clear of specific policy or partisan rhetoric to talk about the bigger issues and ideas facing our world. We want to engage civil discourse from a biblical perspective. When you do that, you’re always going to tick off the fringes, and I’m OK with that. I’m sure when some people flip a few pages forward in this issue and see the lead slice about the Christian response to the Syrian refugee crisis (and problems when it gets entangled with partisan policy), they’ll have an opinion before even reading it. But we’ll talk about it anyway—not to advocate for any one political solution, but to hold up the light of what the Bible says about how Christians should treat immigrants and
refugees. Do with that what you will. If you’re wondering where RELEVANT leans politically, it’s pretty simple: We’re pro-life, and we stand for human dignity. We believe God cares about His creation and has a purpose for it. Everything stems from those core values. So that means we care about the defense of innocents, from the womb and beyond. We care about poverty. We care about preventable disease and environmental stewardship. We care about violence. All of these are life issues—life and human dignity. They’re about honoring God’s creation and allowing humanity to thrive. Unfortunately, if you have a biblical perspective on all of these issues, you won’t be in full agreement with either political party. So, that’s the stance we take on politics. All political platforms get some stuff right and some stuff wrong. Let’s be humble enough to acknowledge that and talk about the issues that can bridge the divide. Let’s talk about the important stuff that will promote life and human dignity. And let’s be OK respectfully disagreeing on the stuff that’s less important. If that makes you label us, that’s OK with me. You can find fringe editorial that suits your tastes all over the Internet. Thankfully, the majority of RELEVANT’s readers agree we can do better than divisive politics. We may disagree on tax programs and the size of government, but we can unite around the fact that our faith mandates we stand for things that are right. In this political year, our generation has the opportunity to chart a new course. Let’s stay away from divisive bickering, especially with other believers. Let’s push ourselves to understand those we disagree with (can we agree no one has it completely figured out?) and seek productive, meaningful discourse. This election year can be radically different. The vast majority of us want it to be. As citizens and believers, let’s engage the political process thoughtfully and intentionally this year. Let’s let our voices be heard. And let’s stop letting the 11 percent dictate the tone.
CAMERON STR ANG is the founder and publisher of RELEVANT. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @cameronstrang.
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NOV/DEC 2015 ISSUE 78
BOKO HARAM Thank you for covering some of the most complex issues facing us today, including the devastation caused in Africa by Boko Haram. My son saw the cover of the magazine, and it was an incredible moment for me to grasp that children around the age of my son are being massacred. My son and I now pray every day for the little girl in the picture and those she represents. Thanks for keeping these images in the forefront of our minds. KERI LEWIS / Via email
I’m so grateful for the well-made, meaningful, and dare I say “relevant” publication you’ve put together. Unlike many Christian news outlets, I feel like I can share your articles with my non-Christian friends, but I also appreciate that your content is not watered down, but clings to Scriptural truths.
I really appreciated the letter from the editor in this month’s RELEVANT, “Do Stuff Because It Matters.” I agree with your stand, and biblically, I believe it is always the right thing to promote social justice issues. The truth is never popular, and doing what is right is never popular. But we need to know what is happening around the world that is out of alignment with God’s plan for humanity and what on earth we can do about it.
EMILY BAUMHOER / Via email
HARMONY DAWSON / Via email
Louie Giglio’s article [“The Keys to Your Comeback”] was really encouraging. I’ve been feeling like I need a fresh start. Glad I’m not alone.
T W E E T N E S S
@ AR C H85LA
@RELEVANT This Nigerian is grateful to you for highlighting Boko Haram’s campaign against Christians in Northern Nigeria. @ CAR L SON K IT
Thanks, @RELEVANT, for living up to your name with your coverage of people and issues that matter. @ SON OF J OB
@RELEVANT magazine for my coffee break. @RELEVANTpodcast for my lunch break. RELEVANT is the best cure for #mondayitis.
@ DAD P ON D E R IN G S
@RobFee Referencing the Papa Shongo/Ultimate Warrior feud in @RELEVANT made me crack up. @ DAN N YD E L OSR E YE S
@CameronStrang Great editorial note in the newest issue of @RELEVANT. It matters to be a voice for the voiceless.
MICHELLE KELLY / Via Facebook
@ C HE E K YC Z Y
The article on how not to talk about politics is brilliant and hilarious. I was both amused and slightly depressed to recognize a lot of my Facebook friends in the descriptions. I’m doing my best to keep my political discussions civil and mostly face-to-face.
I was in tears reading Seth Haines’ story in the latest issue. I struggled with addiction for a long time, and I only truly found God when I hit rock bottom. I’m several years sober, but, like Haines, I still have to take it a day at a time and keep surrendering it all to God. It was so good to read a redemptive story about addiction that was also honest about what a diﬃcult and fragile thing recovery can be.
JASON GIBBENS / Via email
DANIEL MARSH / RELEVANTmagazine.com
Thank you, @RELEVANT, for all the learnings from your articles! I’m so enlightened today and you deserve to be credited. @ K E L LIC OR D ON
@RELEVANT is always solid on the music suggestions. I cannot stop listening to JR JR after reading about them in the latest issue.
SLICES P H O T O C R E D I T: S I M O N C A R D W E L L
A B I-M O N TH LY LO O K AT FA IT H, LIF E + C ULT URE
DO AMERICAN CHRISTIANS HAVE A REFUGEE PROBLEM? A
fter the devastating ISIS attacks in Paris this inalienable human dignity of persecuted people, fall—which began with terrorists allegedly whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Yazidi, esposing as Syrian refugees in order to get into pecially those fleeing from genocidal Islamic terFrance—the United States found itself in a raging rorists,” said ethicist Russell Moore, reacting to the debate about accepting refugees on domestic soil. It political outcry. revealed a country deeply divided, especially along This same conviction caused groups like World political lines. Relief, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops An NBC poll a few days after the attack revealed and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to a number of partisan divides. Almost 80 percent speak out publicly in support of helping refugees. of Republicans want And at least one group, to suspend accepting Catholic Charities of Almost 80 percent of Repub- Dallas, announced it will more Syrian refugees, and some 64 percent continue placing refulicans don’t want to accept “strongly disapprove” gees from Syria—in spite more Syrian refugees. of accepting more. On of the Texas governor’s the other side of the call to the opposite. aisle, nearly two-thirds of Democrats support Pres“We are called by the Gospel to reach out to all ident Obama’s call to accept 10,000 refugees. those in need,” the organization said in a statement. Many Christians—who statistically comprise a “Catholic Charities of Dallas will continue to serve hefty portion of the GOP base—are finding their all refugees.” political view out of line with Christian teaching Moore said the bottom line is the Christian call to on refugees. love our neighbors. “We cannot love our neighbors “[Christians] should be the ones calling the rest at the same time we’re standing aside and watching of the world to remember the image of God and them be slaughtered.”
HOW CROWDFUNDING IS HELPING REFUGEE FAMILIES A young mother from California, Cristal Logothetis, was so moved by the plight of refugee families fleeing violence that she decided to take action. With the help of an Indiegogo campaign, she founded Carry the Future, a nonprofit that provides refugee parents with baby carriers. In the first three months, she raised nearly $90,000 and distributed more than 10,000 of the carriers to families, many of whom will travel through Europe on foot.
Ask the right questions. Gain crucial ministry skills. Impact your city for Christ.
MASTER OF ARTS IN MINISTRY
rom Maryland to South Carolina to Texas, stories of black citizens killed unjustly by police officers have become some of the most common events on the evening news. Not surprisingly, racial tensions across America are at their highest levels since the late 1960s— and many Americans believe race relations are worsening. According to a recent survey from The New
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M I S C
AMERICANS ARE LOSING THEIR FAITH IN GOD
They say breaking up is hard to do, but “they” obviously haven’t heard of The Breakup Shop. For somewhere in the range of $10 to $30 (depending on the method), this Canada-based company will break up with your signifi cant other for you via email, text, phone call or even a letter.
Nearly two decades aft er his tragic death, never-released material from singer Jeff Buckley will be released in March. The 10 songs on You and I are mostly covers, but there are also early versions of Buckley originals.
“I have so much binge-watching to do.”
SCIENCE CONFIRMS TV MAKES YOU A BETTER PERSON
ood news: Society needs you to binge on Netflix. A recent study suggests that watching TV dramas can increase your emotional intelligence, which means watching TV might actually help make you a better person. The study, published in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, asked about 100 people to watch either a television drama (Mad Men or The West Wing) or a nonfiction show (How the Universe Works or Shark Week: Jaws Strikes Back). Then the participants took an emotional intelligence (EQ) test. The people who watched the fictionalized shows performed better on the test. Even when researchers changed up the shows, their results showed higher empathy in the fiction viewers. The study suggests that complex narratives force viewers to think through problems from multiple perspectives, which helps them choose the perspective that seems most reasonable.
WE ALREADY KNEW Americans are losing their religion, but recent data shows that the national lack of religious aﬃliation is bleeding into foundational beliefs as well. According to Pew, a growing minority of Americans now say they don’t believe in God at all. And when it comes to certainty about God, the changes have even affected some Christian groups. Evangelicals and historically black churches strengthened their certainty in their belief, but other religious groups have become more doubtful:
THE NUMBERS GENERAL BELIEF IN GOD 0%
89% of U.S. adults believe in “God or a universal spirit” (not necessarily the God of the Bible), down from 92% in 2007 CERTAINTY OF GOD
63% of Americans are absolutely certain that God exists, down 8 percentage points (71%) from 2007 PROTESTANT BELIEF
Humanitarian group Amnesty International wants U.N. oﬃcials to preemptively ban autonomous machines designed for war. Because if sci-fi movies have taught us anything, it’s that making killer robots is a terrible idea.
ADELE TAKES BACK THE THRONE WHEN TAYLOR SWIFT SOLD 1.3 MILLION
albums in the first week after 1989 released in 2014, the music world chalked it up as unique. And then, hello, there was Adele. Her much-anticipated third album, 25, which released in late November, passed that number easily—shattering all digital single-week sales records. Combining CDs and digital sales, the new queen of pop moved 2.5 million copies in the U.S. the first week, passing even the all-time record holder, NSYNC’s No Strings Attached.
66% of mainline Protestants are “absolutely certain” God exists, down from 73% in 2007 CATHOLIC BELIEF
64% of Roman Catholics expressed an absolutely certain belief in God in 2014, compared with 72% in 2007
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CBS IS TURNING ‘LIVING BIBLICALLY’ INTO A SITCOM WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO live as
“biblically” as possible for an entire year? Well, that’s the premise of a forthcoming TV comedy produced by The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki (Leonard). The show is based on a 2007 experiment from author A.J. Jacobs—chronicled in his book The Year of Living Biblically—in which the writer attempted to follow every command in the Bible as literally as possible for 365 consecutive days. And by “literally as possible,” we do mean as literally as possible: This includes dressing, eating, talking and grooming only as the Bible describes. There’s no word yet on a release date for the show.
CHRISTIAN YOUNG ADULTS ACTUALLY SHARE THEIR FAITH
bout a quarter of religious adults in the U.S. tell others about their faith at least once a week, which is up since 2007, according to a new study by Pew Research Center. And while
older Americans are more engaged in practices such as church membership and private devotions, Pew found younger adults are “slightly more likely” to share their faith. Here’s how it breaks down:
PERCENTAGE OF ADULTS WHO SHARE THEIR FAITH AT LEAST MONTHLY:
43% 56% 18
OF ALL CHRISTIAN MILLENNIALS
A separate study found that young adults were more likely than older groups to share their faith online.
OF EVANGELICAL MILLENNIALS
Barna Group studies show that millennial Christians may be more committed to faith.
THE JIMMY FALLON RIDE YOU ALWAYS WANTED IS REAL UNIVERSAL STUDIOS IN ORL ANDO
OF CHRISTIANS OF ALL AGES
Those in non-Christian faiths were much less likely to share their faith with nonbelievers.
OF EVANGELICALS OF ALL AGES
Those from historically black churches were the most likely to share frequently.
is finally making that late-night comedy theme park ride you’ve always wanted. In 2017, the amusement park will open “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon,” a ride featuring the cast of The Tonight Show and all the excitement associated with sitting on the couch watching TV. Who needs Harry Potter when you can experience Thank You Notes in 4D?
INTRODUCING THE ALL-NEW
The interactive higher education directory from RELEVANT
Whether youâ€™re looking for a great college, seminary, grad school or gap year program, RELEVANT U will help you find the right fit.
WHY THE GIRL BEHIND @SOCALITYBARBIE CALLED IT QUITS T
M I S C. Good news: equal pay for women is coming. The bad news: it might take about 118 years to get here. The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2015 revealed that if current trends continue, men and women won’t start receiving equal pay until the year 2133. Yikes.
he Instagram account @socalitybarbie blew up last year, as Portland-based photographer Darby Cisneros anonymously posted stereotypical “hipster” photos posed with a Barbie—making an unstated but clear satirical dig at the idea of #liveauthentic. The account started as a parody of the Christian organization Socality, but it soon gained a much wider following. Then, after garnering an insane 1.3 million followers, Cisneros revealed her identity and shuttered the account. We asked her why.
Val Kilmer, who played Tom Cruise’s foil in the 1986 classic Top Gun, has revealed that a sequel is in the works. There are few details available, but let’s hope the jorts-clad beach volleyball scene stays in the ’80s.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR ORIGINAL INTENT WAS AIMED AT SPOOFING THE CHRISTIAN HIPSTER THING SPECIFICALLY?
It’s the big reason I started the account. I know Socality is full of Jesus-loving people with good intentions, and I’ve had some good conversations with people in Socality. But I feel like their overall message was lost amongst the pretty landscape images, inspiring quotes and product promotions. One of the issues I wanted to address was the way many of us Christians were using social media. It sometimes came across as a very shallow view of faith and could give off the wrong idea about what it’s like to follow Jesus. It’s more than just inspiring Scriptures paired with pretty images. Being a follower of Jesus is hard work, and there are a lot of ugly and diﬃcult things we encounter in our walks with Christ. WHAT DO YOU THINK LIVING AUTHENTICALLY ACTUALLY MEANS?
Maybe not curating every image. It’s completely obvious when photos are staged, and I think photos would come across as more authentic if they didn’t use the “live authentic” hashtag. THE ACCOUNT BLEW UP. OVER 1 MILLION FOLLOWERS. NEWS COVERAGE. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO CALL IT QUITS?
I think I’ve said all that I’ve wanted to say with SB. It was just a project to me. I never wanted to do this long-term, even though it gained a huge following.
Some of @socalitybarbie’s popular posts, which featured captions like ”Wherever you are, be all there ... but take a picture first” and “Could I be any more authentic?”
Recent numbers from the RIAA show that vinyl record sales are at their highest levels in nearly 25 years, and millennials are largely to thank. It’s almost like more eﬃcient, updated technology was never invented.
THE H T LIST RELEVANT ’S BI-MONTHLY CULTURE POWER RANKINGS
ADELE [HOT TEST] Something tells us this “Adele” person is going to be pretty big.
TRUE CRIME [HOT TER] Netflix’s Making a Murderer, HBO’s The Jinx and even a drama based on the Serial podcast are all evidence of America’s new cultural fixation: actual murder.
DAD DANCING [HOT] Drake’s “Hotline Bling” has made awkwardly moving your hips and limbs in completely non-rhythmic ways cool for everyone.
BACON [COLD] Thanks to its links to cancer, the Internet’s love affair with bacon is now on the rocks.
PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES [COLDER] All the of shouting, name-calling and drama of reality TV with none of the entertainment value. CANDY HEARTS [COLDEST] Let’s face it, emojis have eliminated the need to use chalky candies to say affectionate, cutesy things to our loved ones.
Modest is hottest
PLAYBOY DROPS NUDITY BECAUSE, WELL, PORN IS ALREADY EVERYWHERE
layboy magazine—one of the most recognizable brands in the world—recently announced that it will stop publishing nude photos. In an interview with The New York Times, the magazine’s CEO said, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so [nudity is] just passé at this juncture.” The market Playboy
created is now essentially consuming it, so the magazine that helped build a consumeristic sex culture in America is moving toward less explicit, more “PG13” images. This new strategy doesn’t change Playboy’s fundamental ethic in the least: Dropping nudity, according to its CEO, is just brand positioning for a porn-saturated world.
HOW FAITH CHANGED THE CAREER OF NATALIE PORTMAN With the premiere of her directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness, Natalie Portman tells the story of the State of Israel, which illuminates a topic deeply important to Portman: her Jewish faith. Her faith is even challenging Portman’s idea of what it means to be successful in Hollywood. For example, she recently told The Hollywood Reporter why she doesn’t display the Oscar she won for Black Swan. “I was reading the story of Abraham to my child and talking about, like, not worshipping false idols. And [Oscar trophies are] literally, like, gold men. This is literally worshipping gold idols—if you worship it. ... It’s a false idol.”
TRUTHINESS SHALL SET YOU FREE HOW STEPHEN COLBERT IS BRINGING HIS CHRISTIAN FAITH TO CBS’ ‘THE LATE SHOW’
hen Stephen Colbert made the jump from Comedy Central to CBS this fall, he promised to drop the faux-outraged political persona he crafted on The Colbert Report and present a more authentic version of himself. And since he’s taken over for David Letterman as the host of The Late Show, there’s one element of Colbert’s identity that’s been a fixture of his network TV presence: his strong Catholic faith. Here’s a look at four of the times Colbert brought Christianity to late night.
ATTEMPTING TO CONVERT BILL MAHER
“Come on back, Bill. The door is always open. Golden ticket, right before you. All you have to do is humble yourself in the presence of the Lord and admit there are things greater than you in the universe that you do not understand, and salvation awaits you.”
SHARING HIS FAITH IN INTERVIEWS
“That’s my context for my existence, is that I am here to know God, love God, serve God, that we might be happy with each other in this world and with Him in the next—the catechism. That makes a lot of sense to me.”
TELLING OPRAH HIS FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE:
“[My favorite] is from Matthew. I like it because Jesus says, ‘So I say to you, do not worry.’ ... It’s not like, try not to worry. ‘So I say to you: Do. Not. Worry.’ So if you worry, you’re being disobedient.”
QUOTING SCRIPTURE WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE REFUGEE CONTROVERSY:
“If you want to know if somebody’s a Christian, just ask them to complete this sentence: ‘Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you…”’ If they don’t say, ‘welcomed me in,’ then they are either a terrorist or they’re running for president.”
MILLENNIALS WANT THEIR FRIENDS TO MARRY THEM THE NUMBER OF AMERICANS getting
MAKING THE SWITCH TO ETHICAL CONSUMERISM
married by priests is down more than 60 percent since 1970, with more couples asking friends to do the honors. True to form, most buddy-officiants are certified online. One of the sites, Universal Life Church, ordained 250,000 people in 2014 and expects a 30 percent increase this year. The site ordains “fast, free and easy” with “no experience necessary.” Because that’s legit.
IT MAY COST A LITTLE MORE, BUT THESE 4 SWAPS CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
CHOCOLATE W H AT T O AVO I D : B I G B R A N D NA M E S
Several of the world’s biggest brands are facing lawsuits for deceiving consumers into supporting illegal practices, including child labor. W H AT T O B U Y I N S T E A D :
Fair trade and direct trade brands including Rogue Chocolatier, Taza Chocolate, Askinosie and Dandelion Chocolate monitor where their products come from.
COFFEE W H AT T O AVO I D : K- C U P S
The disposable coffee pods are essentially unrecyclable. W H AT T O B U Y I N S T E A D :
TOMS, Intelligentsia, Ethical Bean, Blue Tiger and other artisan brands make traditionally brewed coffee through fair trade and direct trade relationships.
JEWELRY W H AT T O AVO I D : G O L D A N D D I A M O N D S
“Conflict” gold and diamonds mined using forced labor remain a major problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. W H AT T O B U Y I N S T E A D :
Artisan jewelry makers like Kicheko Goods, Rose & Fitzgerald and The Giving Keys offer products that actually give back to the regions where they are made.
CLOTHES W H AT T O AVO I D : FA S T FA S H I O N
To keep margins up, inexpensive fashion items are often made in unsafe factories where workers are paid extremely low wages. W H AT T O B U Y I N S T E A D :
Brands like Everlane, Tellason, Patagonia and others offer quality products that are made under fair conditions.
MEET HGTV’S CHRISTIAN FIXER UPPERS THE SECOND SEASON OF HGTV’S
reality series Fixer Upper was a hit, attracting 24 million viewers. In it, Chip and Joanna Gaines help families find houses, and then fix them up. The show is known for its wholesome emphasis on family, and the Gaines say that comes from their faith: “Our family has made a commitment to put Christ ﬁrst, a lifestyle our parents modeled for us. They showed us how to keep our marriage and family centered around God. We have been surprised at the impact of our faith through the show. We haven’t been overtly evangelical, but the rich feedback we have received on family and love all source from our faith.”
YOU’RE ALREADY STARTING THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT
Keep the new year vibes rolling with a new subscription to RELEVANT. It’s one resolution that keeps itself.
R E L E VA N T M A G A Z I N E . C O M / S U B S C R I B E
I . C .Y. M . I . IN C ASE YOU MISSED IT
ENTERTAINMENT ACTUALLY WORTH YOUR TIME
F IL M /T V AUDIO B O O KS
Pete Holmes, director Judd Apatow and comedian Artie Lange on the set of ‘Crashing’
1 G R I ME S , A RT A NGE L S
The mix of subversive lyrics and power-pop dance melodies makes Grimes’ Art Angels an album as layered as it is catchy. 2 ROOM
Despite its unsettling premise (it’s about a woman who has been abducted) the film is really about the unwavering love of a mother and her son. 3 O UT O F SORTS
Known for her unfiltered thoughts on faith, Sarah Bessey discusses what it’s like to wrestle with truth.
PETE HOLMES AND JUDD APATOW TEAM UP FOR DIVORCE SITCOM C
omedian and podcast host Pete Holmes is teaming with super-producer Judd Apatow (Girls, Freaks and Geeks) for a new sitcom on HBO. The show Crashing is based on Holmes’ real-life experience of staying on friends’ couches as he attempted to put his life back together after his wife left him. Holmes will both star in and write Crashing, with Apatow onboard as a director and co-executive producer. Holmes says his divorce served as the turning point in his life. Though he initially wanted to be a youth pastor, the broken marriage caused him to abandon his faith, only to come back eventually to a more authentic version of it. He told RELEVANT, “I’m not burdened with the label of ‘pastor.’ But I still see comedy as an opportunity to sometimes inject some positivity. So, the Christian in me likes to consider comedy a ministry.”
4 AUSTIN STONE WORSHIP, THIS GL O RIO U S GRACE:
The collective of songwriters and musicians combines various influences into a single, moving album.
5 A RMO R OF LI G HT
A thoughtful documentary that looks at the complicated relationship between Christians, guns and the NRA.
6 MA STER OF NONE
Aziz Ansari’s frequently irreverent sitcom explores the awkwardness of being a modern-day millennial.
MILLENNIAL CHRISTIANS ARE WORRIED ABOUT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMONG ALL AGE DEMOGRAPHICS FOR Christians, millennials are now most concerned about religious freedom. In fact, the Barna Group found that three years ago, one-third of millennial Christians (32 percent) said religious freedom had worsened. Today, that number is at 55 percent—a jump of more than 20 percentage points from 2012. Millennial Christians also are the most worried of any age group about the future of religious freedom. More than half (56 percent) say they are concerned about it, compared to just one in five (19 percent) in 2012.
THE NUMBERS IS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM GETTING WORSE?
say religious freedom has lessened
worry about the future of religious freedom
We believe Jesus changes everything He touches, and that He uses us, His people, to do it. What is your part? InFaith offers unique mission opportunities to serve in your local community. Or dream a littleâ€” create your own. [ Watch the commercial. Follow your call. Start here: infaith.org ]
THE YEAR IN PREVIEW THE 10 TRENDS THAT WILL DEFINITIVELY DEFINE 2016
very year, the editors of RELEVANT combine their collective powers of cultural insight, knowledge of current events, and impeccable sense of style to predict trends that will define the coming year. In the many years we’ve been doing this, we have never been wrong about a single one of them. We present to you, with complete and utter confidence, 10 things that will absolutely happen in the year 2016.
JNCOS AND H&M WILL DEBUT A PHAT COLLABORATION
The makers of the awesomely baggy ’90s dungarees will team up with the designers behind the mall’s best-selling skinny jeans for a phat new line of normalwidth pants.
02 iPINKYRINGS TO SHRINK DOWN BULKY INTERFACE OF OBSOLETE APPLE WATCH Apple will take the next step in the wearable tech revolution, phasing out the touchscreen watch for the sleeker, even smaller iPinky ring. Wearing the piece of smart jewelry will make answering a phone call literally as easy as lifting a finger—then holding it to your mouth and ear.
TAYLOR SWIFT’S BBF SQUAD WILL GROW TO INCLUDE EVERY SINGLE PERSON BORN IN THE YEAR 1989 > THE BALLOONING LIST of individuals that are part of the pop star’s “squad” will soon include every single individual born from Jan. 1, 1989 - Dec. 31, 1989. They will all regularly join her in music videos that will last approximately 75 hours.
THE EMOJI BIBLE TRANSLATION WILL FINALLY RELEASE
> ONLINE EMOJI PASSWORDS and even an emoji movie are both on the horizon, and in 2016, Bible publishers will reach a new generation with their emoji Bible translation, meticulously adapted for readers who simply don’t have time to process things like words and sentences.
SWAGBOARDS WILL BECOME THE PRIMARY FORM OF HUMAN TRANSPORTATION All of humanity will come to the realization that short-distance, leisurely paced travel should always involve high levels of swag.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP WILL NAME VIDAL SASSOON THE HEAD OF HIS BATHROOM CABINET
> Now ensconced in the American political process, in the coming year, President Donald Trump will begin his process of “making America great again” with the help from his closest political ally—several cans of Vidal Sassoon hair mousse from his bathroom Cabinet.
08 HAVING TAKEN DOWN THE NSA AND ASHLEY MADISON, HACKER ACTIVIST GROUPS WILL TURN THEIR ATTENTION TO PEOPLE WHO STILL AREN’T SHOOTING VIDEOS IN LANDSCAPE
THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY WILL SIMPLY BECOME KNOWN AS ‘REVERSE SELFIES’
Outwardly pointing camera lenses will just become novelty items and weird things your grandparents used to own.
JAY-Z WILL RELEASE A SURPRISE ALBUM FOR THAT ONE GUY STILL USING TIDAL
10 UPDATED, GRITTY MCGEE AND ME! WILL JOIN ’90S SITCOM REBOOTS > IN THE UPDATED, MOCUMENTARY format of the popular ’90s Christian cartoon, McGee will play a troubled former child actor attempting a comeback—while balancing life as an inner-city substitute teacher.
THE BRITISH BAND IS BRINGING THEIR BRAND OF DANCE-INFUSED POP TO THE MASSES
the middle of a world tour, The Wombats found themselves playing at Byron Bay, Australia’s Splendour in the Grass music festival in front of about 20,000 people. “It was just, like, one hour of the most intense feelings,” Wombats drummer Dan Haggis recalls. “The crowd was singing along the whole time so loud that we could barely hear ourselves. Everyone was just dancing and partying. We all had goosebumps for like half an hour after the show.” Even in a year jam-packed with headline tours and festival performances, that show stood out. “That’s what you’re aiming for with music,”
“That’s what you’re aiming for with music. You find yourself in a different state.” 32
MUSIC THAT MATTERS
Haggis says. “You find yourself in a different state, almost, or a different world. It was very surreal. That was probably the highlight of the year.” In times like those, the band sees their 12 years of hard work paying off. Originally a sort of “scrappy indie rock band,” The Wombats have since developed into a “very weird pop band,” as lead singer Matthew Murphy puts it. “[When] our albums start off, we just want to do sort of a ’90s grunge album, and then we realize that’s not happening and the synthesizers come out,” he says, laughing. “For us, if a great lyric is accompanied by a great hook, then that’s kind of the best of both worlds.” The Wombats are definitely part of the huge indie synth/dance resurgence happening right now, but regardless of genre, they just hope everyone can take away something positive from their music. “Hopefully it puts people in a good mood and gives people energy,” Haggis says.
W H Y W E L OV E T HEM:
The Wombats’ latest album, Glitterbug, is full of ’80s-inspired, upbeat pop. They have an ear for the kind of catchy hooks and beats that will keep you coming back for more. F OR FA NS OF:
Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club, The Kooks, Blur
arriving May 2016 Pre-Order today to get • Exclusive song from Lecr ae • Ltd. ed. Unashamed t-shirt • a n d m o re After January 1, visit UNASHAMEDBOOK.COM to claim
ARTISTS TO WATCH
THE NORWEGIAN SINGER-SONGWRITER IS CAPTIVATING AUDIENCES WITH HER OTHERWORLDLY VOCALS ineteen-year-old Aurora Aksnes’ twisted electro-pop confections are equal parts playful and mercurial. They’re reaching for the otherworldly, even though their central players are often the marginalized members of society—runaways, outcasts and murderers included. Her wise-beyond-her-years lyrics and sound has gained Aurora radio plays and attention from stars like Katy Perry (who tweeted about her single “Runaway,” “Finally. New music that makes my heart aflutter.”) But while there might be something a bit
“I don’t need to escape. If I want to escape, I’ll read a book.”
MUSIC THAT MATTERS
otherworldly about Aurora’s singles and the starry-eyed tracks on her debut EP, Running With the Wolves, rest assured—all the emotions are coming from a very real place. The Norwegian singer-songwriter has been writing songs since she was 10 years old. For her, songwriting has always been more about processing real life than escaping into fantasy. “I don’t need to escape,” she says from her home in Bergen, Norway. “If I want to escape, I’ll read a book. I mainly write songs to digest things that have happened, and to understand things, and to kind of become an organized thinker. “I think a lot about everything,” she continues. “Writing songs is a good thing if you want to make space and save a thought for the future. You have to put the things you have thought into something. It’s quite good to write songs, because you can use the time to think about things and write about them before you can let it go.”
W H Y W E L OV E HER :
All of us need a reminder to look at the world through a more fanciful, childlike gaze. Aurora’s music may be based in real-life experiences, but it inspires the imagination. F OR FA NS OF:
Chvrches, Susanne Sundfør, Joanna Newsom
NOW S T R E A MING
These albums (& tons more) are streaming on The Drop at RELEVANTmagazine.com. Listen in!
AS FLAME EXPLAINS IT, hip-hop is a genre tailor-
made for talking about what matters. With his latest album, Forward, Flame is looking to do just that, aiming to help listeners think through engaging culture with the Gospel. “I want us to rally together and encourage one another to stand firm,” he says. At the same time, Flame holds his music to the same standards as any mainstream artist. He mentions J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Wale, saying all three are giving social commentary, and he wants to join the conversation. “I want to be able to sit at the table the other artists are sitting at and be a part of the discussion. Hip-hop has always been an outlet for that.”
R E L E VA N T
A very RELEVANT Christmas Vol. 5 - Part 1
WHY WE LOVE HIM:
Flame’s version of hip-hop is intelligent, important and faith-filled. It’s also just really good.
R E L E VA N T
A very RELEVANT Christmas Vol. 5 - Part 2
FOR FANS OF:
Lecrea, Tedashii, Trip Lee, Derek Minor
DAWN & HAWKES
Yours & Mine
WA S H A
The Bright, Part II
MY BROTHERS AND I
Don’t Dream Alone
W E BU Y GOLD
Playdough & Sean Patrick
GEMS GEMS MAY HAVE RECENTLY RELOCATED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. TO LOS ANGELES,
WHY WE LOVE THEM:
but the songs on the duo’s debut album, Kill the One You Love, are far from sunny. The duo’s twisty music exists in a twilight land full of surprises and drama, crafted out of cascades of ones and zeros accompanied by frontwoman Lindsay Pitts’ haunted soprano. They’re not out to offer any answers. “The number one keystone phrase we kept between us was this idea, a sense of existential longing,” explains Gems’ Cliff Usher. “We both just knew exactly what that meant right away. That’s something we both really like in songs—a lot of our favorite songs have that sense of existential longing.”
Ordinary feelings placed into an extraordinary world, Gems’ songs give us permission to feel— and to feel deeply. FOR FANS OF:
The xx, Beach House
JOHN MARK MCMILLAN ON WORSHIP CULTURE, CYNICISM AND STAYING VULNERABLE ohn Mark McMillan has been in the music business for more than a decade. Last year, he established his own record label, on which he released his fifth full-length album, Borderland. This summer, he and his wife, Sarah, released their first EP together, You Are the Avalanche, which he says focuses on “finding glory in the mundane, finding that there is more beauty actually in the common things sometimes than in the novel.”
YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE WORSHIP MUSIC SCENE FOR A LONG TIME. HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THINGS CHANGE?
When I first started, there was not really this idea that you could do worship as a job. But now, especially in big cities in the South, there’s a whole culture, full of hundreds of people who make a living doing worship. In one sense, that’s really cool. But in another sense, you have a bunch of people whose passion has become their job. All of a sudden, you find people who can’t stop doing it, because they need it for a living, but their heart’s not in it anymore. There’s this interesting worship culture that didn’t exist when I was growing up. DO YOU THINK WE’VE LOST SOMETHING IN THIS NEW SORT OF WORSHIP CULTURE?
It’s actually easier to go to church and do the big production thing—and I’m not putting lights and smoke machines down, but it’s so easy to hide behind the hype and to convince ourselves that we’re doing the hype because we’re helping God out. When the truth is, we’re actually doing the hype because it’s easier to do the hype than to be vulnerable and put your heart out there—but the real goodness is in that. We keep ourselves two or three clicks away from the real goodness sometimes, because it’s painful
MUSIC THAT MATTERS
“It’s easier to do the hype than to be vulnerable and put your heart out there—but the real goodness is in that.”
to get there. For me, it’s not even about the aesthetic of church, it’s more about “What are we hiding behind, and are we willing to come out from behind that?” HOW DO YOU GUARD AGAINST HIDING BEHIND THE HYPE? HOW DO YOU STAY VULNERABLE?
I try to maintain that vulnerability with the people I work with. And I try to remind myself every night that this is an absolute gift. It’s a gift that I get to do this for a living, but there’s an even greater gift, and that’s the fact that I get to do it at all. My goal is to not lose that. I try to remind myself every single night that I’m about to walk out and have an incredible experience with people who are a lot like me. We’re about to share something that’s going to be incredible. WHAT DO YOU HOPE THIS ALBUM MAKES PEOPLE THINK ABOUT OR FEEL?
I think we’re so saturated with irony and cynicism. I’d like for people to rediscover a genuine part of themselves. I’ve definitely been incredibly cynical, and I’m really tired of it. I’m ready to be a part of something genuine again in my own heart and in my own life. I hope people hear that in this record.
HOW TO FIND MORE
MEANING AT WORK BY MICHAEL MAHAN
hether it’s in a traditional office, a work-from-home space or office share, most people spend almost a third of their week at work. And with smartphones constantly keeping us just one click away from work email inboxes, a lot of people spend even more time than that thinking about their job. With so much of our life dedicated to our jobs, shouldn’t they be a focus of how we try to make a difference in this world? A survey conducted by Lynne Lancaster and David Stillman (authors of The
CREATE. INNOVATE. LEAD.
M-Factor) found that meaning in the workplace is beyond important for most employees. More than 90 percent of millennials said being able to give back through their work was essential when deciding on a job. Making a difference is key. According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index, many younger workers would take a lower-paying, harder or more banal job if it gave them a clear sense of meaning. However, a recent Gallup poll found that 70 percent of Americans either hate their job or are not engaged in their
work. If you’re having a hard time finding meaning at work, you are not alone. The challenge to find meaning in work dates back at least to the writing of Ecclesiastes. True meaning is important. And discovering the significance of those 40 hours we spend each week in the office can be fundamental to our sense of well-being. Studies in leadership (which often curiously echo Scriptural values) can provide some insight into finding meaning in the workplace. Here are three suggestions that might just make a huge difference.
leader uses moral love, humility, altruism, vision for the followers, trust and empowerment in order to serve others. Not everyone is in a leadership position, but everyone does influence others. Choose to influence others through service. Jesus Himself wasn’t too good to serve, so we shouldn’t be too good, either. Serving may not be the easiest road, but it could be the most filled with meaning. Dan Sanders (executive vice president of Sprouts Farmers Market and former CEO of United Supermarkets) concludes that any job, whether as a pilot for a national airline or as a clerk at a grocery store, is fulfilling when it is linked to service. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, serve others as serving Him, and some sense of meaning cannot evade you.
RELATING YOUR PERSONAL MISSION TO YOUR JOB IS FUNDAMENTAL TO FINDING MEANING AT WORK. many.” Jesus knew why He was on this earth. Follow His example and know what you are about. With a bit of honesty, you can find your own mission with just a few questions. What one idea permeates your existence? What guides all that you do? Relating your mission to your job is fundamental to finding meaning at work. If the job is only a means to financial stability, it may be time to find a job that relates to your purpose.
UNDERSTAND YOUR ROLE IN A HOLISTIC PERSPECTIVE
DISCOVER YOUR PERSONAL MEANING AND RELATE IT TO YOUR JOB Discovering what you are about is essential for finding any sense of significance. Kevin Cashman, author of Leadership from the Inside Out, asks a simple question: “What is your unique, meaningful contribution?” What is it that makes you different from everyone else? Jesus was clear about His mission. As He took on the role of Savior, He formulated a clear sense of purpose: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for
There is always some product or service ultimately linked to any job. Practically every role contributes to some good or service. That end product can actually be the answer to your meaning. Consider the case of medical device manufacturer Medtronic. Workers man assembly lines, constructing tiny devices in a tedious environment. Long shifts and zero-error tolerance exacerbate the situation. Yet employees not only tend to stay at the company, they also find meaning and satisfaction in their work there. Medtronic produces heart valves. Every employee knows he or she isn’t just making devices—they are saving human lives. It’s a job that matters. Medtronic ensures that employees get the big picture. Every year, a party with the recipients of the heart valves provides an opportunity to know and see the actual lives saved. This example—of seeing the outcomes of the workplace—is a great one to follow. If you want to know how your contribution changes the world, look at the faces your job touches. Meet the people you help and connect your job to that perspective. Leadership expert Kathleen Patterson describes a servant leader as one who focuses on others, so that they “are the primary concern and the organizational concerns are secondary.” The servant
ENJOY THE RIDE Many of us in corporate settings tend to value accomplishments—at times beyond anything else. We are achievers. We like to meet deadlines and exceed expectations. We become task-oriented. But if we only experience joy when we finish a job, according to Kevin Cashman, we have a problem with personal mastery. After all, getting to the goal is not all that exists. Sometimes, the trip is just as great as the destination. If vacation was only composed of the arrival at a destination and getting back home, what rest would it give? Vacation is about the trip, and work can be the same, if we choose to find meaning in the process rather than just the product. Finding meaning in the workplace isn’t easy, but it is probably among the most important things we can do. While there is no simple plan to seeing significance in the workplace, these points can give us a start: Relate your own purpose to your job. See the big picture. When all else fails, serve. Enjoy the ride. And remember, in the long run, it’s not really the job itself that matters. MICHAEL MAHAN is an independent leadership consultant and an adjunct professor at Regent University.
YOUR LIFE CAN BE A GREAT STORY IT STARTS BY LIVING EACH DAY WITH INTENTIONALITY BY JOHN MA XW ELL
hen I meet people for the first time, as soon as the introductions are out of the way, I ask them to share their story—to tell me who they are and where they’re from, where they’ve been and where they’re going. I want to understand what matters to them. Maybe you do the same. The telling of our stories becomes an emotional connecting point for us. It bridges the gap between us. Why is that? Everyone loves a good story—we always have. Stories tell us who we are. They inspire us, connect with us, animate our reasoning process, give us permission to act, fire our emotions and give us pictures of who we aspire to be. Stories are us. Every day, millions of people watch movies, read novels and search the Internet for stories that inspire them or make them laugh. Every day, we listen to our friends tell us about the dramatic or funny things that happen to them. Every day, people take out their smartphones to show pictures and share stories. Stories are how we relate to others, learn and remember. So I’ll ask you again: What’s your story? I want you to think about your story so far. What kind of story is it? We all have a bit of humor in our stories, as well as some drama. We all have our ups and downs, wins and losses. There’s a bit of comedy, tragedy and history in all of us. But overall, each
CREATE. INNOVATE. LEAD.
of our lives tells a larger story. What do you want yours to say? I believe that no matter what “plot” our story may follow, deep down, we all want one thing: We want our life to matter. We want our story to be one of significance. Nobody wants to feel like the world wouldn’t miss him if he’d never lived. Are you with me? Have you thought about what you want your life story to be? Do you believe you can live a life of significance, that you can do things that really matter? Can you make your story great? With all my heart, I believe the answer to these questions is yes. You have it within your power to make your life a great story, one of significance. Every person can. Regardless of nationality, opportunity, ethnicity or capacity, each of us can live lives of significance. We can do things that matter and that can make the world a better place. I hope you believe that. Don’t let the word “significance” intimidate you. Don’t let it stop you from pursuing a life that matters. When I talk about significance, I’m not talking about being famous. I’m not talking about getting rich. I’m not talking about being a huge celebrity or winning a Nobel Prize or becoming the president of the United States. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but you don’t have to accomplish any of them to be significant. To be significant, all you have to do is make a difference with others wherever you are, with whatever you have, day by day. So what’s the secret of filling the pages of your life? What’s the key to a life that matters? Living each day with intentionality. When you live each day with intentionality, there’s almost no limit to what you can do. You can transform yourself, your family, your community and your nation. When enough people do that, they can change the world. When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you begin to live a life that matters.
JOHN MAXWELL is a speaker and best-selling author who has written many books on leadership, including Intentional Living, from which this article is adapted.
EXTREME POVERTY IS REACHING AN ALL-TIME LOW or the first time ever, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty fell below 10 percent in 2015. Projections from the World Bank show the poverty rate falling to single digits— from 12.8 percent in 2012 to 9.6 percent. This means the world is making strides toward ending extreme poverty by 2030, which is a part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. “Extreme poverty” refers to conditions where people lack basic necessities—as opposed to “relative poverty,” where someone’s income falls below the general standard of living. According to the report, the “international extreme poverty line” is now a
SUSTAINABLE CHANGE. INTENTIONAL LIVING.
whopping $1.90 a day, which is up from a previous standard of $1.25 a day in 2005 in order reflect rising food costs, as well as clothing and shelter needs.
The extreme poverty rate is falling to single digits—from 12.8 percent in 2012 to 9.6 percent—for the first time. Dramatic victories in the fight against poverty are happening all around the world. In East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank estimates that the rate fell from 7.2 percent to 4.1 percent; in South
Asia, poverty fell from 18.8 percent to 13.5 percent; and in sub-Saharan Africa, it fell from 42.6 percent to 35.2 percent. Still, parts of the world—like the Middle East—are so impoverished that the World Bank couldn’t make projections because of a lack of information. And while this report shows significant progress, the World Bank’s report is clear that extreme poverty is an ongoing and complex problem—particularly in Africa. For example, in parts of Africa, the rich population is growing, but most Africans still make less than $10 a day, and the poorest people are kept from the middle class. And with about half of the world’s poor concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, the continent as a whole lags behind the rest of the world.
OOFFAALLLLTTHHEELLI FI FEEI SI SSSUUEESSFAC FACI N I NGGAAFFRRI C I CAA——PPOV OVEERRTTY,Y, DDI SI SEEAASSEE, ,VVI O I OLLEENNCCEE——I SI STTHHEEMMOOSSTTI M I MPPOORRTA TANNTT OONNEEAC ACTTUA UALLLY LYAALLAC ACKKOOFFEELLEECCTTRRI C I CI T I TYY? ?
SUSTAINABLE CHANGE. INTENTIONAL LIVING.
B Y K AT E T R A C Y
dong Christine lives in rural northern Uganda, 10 km. outside the town of Gulu. She has five children, three of whom she sends to school. Their home is a small hut with a grass-thatched roof. It already caught on fire once, and the family lives in constant fear of a fire happening again. Christine’s hut burned because her family had to use an open fire for cooking and heating. On top of that, she had to seek medical care for her children who developed respiratory illnesses from constant smoke and kerosene fumes in their home. When the hut wasn’t dangerously occupied by flame and fume, it was inadequate. Christine’s oldest son wasn’t doing well in school because he couldn’t study at night —not without electricity. This is the all-too-common reality for many people in sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately seven out of 10 people do not have electricity. According to the International Energy Agency, that means more than 620 million people—more than the combined populations of the United States, Russia and Japan—live their daily lives without power, a commodity Americans and the rest of the developed world take for granted.
THE IMPACT OF POWER The daily routine of the average American—waking up to an alarm on a charging iPhone, heating leftovers in the microwave and stepping into an airconditioned office—is a foreign experience for many Africans. According to the ONE Campaign, 30 percent of health centers and more than one-third of primary
schools run without power. But in the developing world, a lack of electricity is not just inconvenient. It can actually be a matter of life and death. The World Health Organization estimates that 4 million people have died from kerosene and smoke fumes in their homes—a higher number than deaths from malaria and HIV/AIDs combined. In addition, women going into labor are expected to bring their own flashlights or gas lamps to the hospital, an unsettling fact considering 70 percent of maternal and infant deaths can be eliminated simply by the provision of electricity. “Most of us don’t know how detrimen-
electronic thermometers?” Waddle asks. “I think it really brought home the importance of ensuring that power systems are not only available, but they’re reliable and well-run.”
GLIMPSES OF LIGHT The facts about the impact of electricity have prompted government organizations, nonprofits, private companies and individuals to take action and advocate to solve energy poverty in Africa. President Barack Obama recognized the problem and enacted the Power Africa initiative, which provides $7 billion in U.S. commitment, as well as $9 billion in
MORE THAN 620 MILLION PEOPLE—MORE THAN THE COMBINED POPULATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, RUSSIA AND JAPAN—LIVE THEIR DAILY LIVES WITHOUT POWER. tal this is,” says Matt Leffingwell, ONE’s senior director of U.S. and Canada government relations. “We want energy access to be as affordable and effective as possible.” Beyond the daily need, what happens during times of crisis? Dan Waddle, senior vice president for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International, says 2014’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa showed how essential power can be in providing adequate care to eradicate epidemics. “When you think about it, what kind of service can a health center provide to a sick population if they don’t have lights, if they don’t have water, if they don’t have an autoclave to sterilize operating equipment, if they don’t have batteries for their
commitments from the private sector, to provide increased access to power in subSaharan Africa. Leffingwell says the great need in subSaharan Africa is why the ONE Campaign is advocating for the Electrify Africa Act, a bill that will reportedly provide 20,000 megawatts of power and bring electricity to 50 million Africans. The goal of the bill, which failed in the Senate once and is being reintroduced, is to provide electricity to Africa through U.S. private sector investment to support national development plans. While methods and strategies vary, the impact these organizations are having is often quite tangible. The NRECA, for example, has provided electricity to
110 million people in 42 countries in its 80-year history. The organization operates under an electric co-op system, where the consumers also have ownership of the power. In rural Tanzania, where the electrification rate is around 8 percent, NRECA is working to provide 7,256 people with electricity for the first time. The success of projects like those NRECA takes on would not happen without the partnership with local communities, Waddle says. When NRECA helped create three utilities in Sudan in 2005, they trained and educated local members of the community to take care of the electrical systems. “These utilities were formed with the direct engagement of local community leadership, and community members were trained on how to manage the utilities as community-owned institutions,” Waddle says. Meanwhile, in Uganda, one missionary has provided 15,000 rural Ugandans with solar power. Thomas Bell’s business, Lumi, uses a pay-to-own formula, which increases the affordability of solar power from 15 percent of Ugandans to 80 percent. Odong Christine, for example, was able to save enough money from her solar panel to send another child to school. And all of her children are performing better in school, thanks to the increase of light in their home. She’s also stopped using kerosene lamps for lighting, eliminating the risk of respiratory illnesses for her children. “All of these people are saving money,” Bell says. “That’s really the thing that has the potential to have the biggest impact.” With increased lighting from these solar units, Ugandans have the capacity to stay up later, taking on various side jobs to increase their income. They have more opportunities for farming, cooking and even charging their neighbors’ phones for a price. Kenya Connect, an organization that aims to strengthen education in rural communities in Kenya, hosts one of the only education centers with electricity in a county of 55 Kenyan schools. The organization’s learning center partly operates on solar energy, as it was the most costeffective for that particular location. “If there are more schools that have
SUSTAINABLE CHANGE. INTENTIONAL LIVING.
electricity, it’s better for the students when they’re learning, because they can actually have brighter classrooms when they’re reading textbooks. And it eventu-
“WE HAVE GOT TO CHANGE THE PARADIGM IN HOW WE VIEW AFRICA, RATHER THAN BEING A RECIPIENT OF AID, AS BEING AN OPPORTUNITY FOR INVESTMENT.” —Thomas Bell ally means computers can go into those classrooms,” says Sharon Runge, executive director for Kenya Connect.
QUESTIONS OF STRATEGY John Dallmann, CEO of Engineering Ministries International, has spent many years living in Africa, suffering through the heat in Niger, where he remembers how the lack of electricity and air conditioning prevented work productivity. His organization has provided electrical designs and improvements for more than 50 Christian entities in Africa—from mission hospitals to orphanages. Dallmann has seen how electricity revolutionizes African businesses. And unlike some projects Westerners try to start in Africa, Dallmann knows electricity is a very “felt need.” “I’ve been in a lot of rural African villages where we talk about their greatest needs, and electricity comes up right toward the top,” he says. “I think it addresses a really key component that could unleash Africa to move out of the bottom economic status of the world.” And yet, Dallmann is concerned with some of the strategies of the Electrify Africa Act, particularly in its commitment to sustainability. “I’ve just seen time and time again that systems are not sustainable, and it doesn’t really help in the long-term, because things crumble. The system falls apart,” he says. Bell agrees, saying greater emphasis needs to land on the training and education of local Africans, as well as investment and partnership. “We have got to change the paradigm in how we view Africa, rather than being a recipient of aid, as being an opportunity for investment,” Bell says. “When you’re investing in it and you’re seeking a return, you become a partner in a way
Lumi increases the affordability of solar panels like this one for Ugandan families.
that you’re not when you simply have a one-way relationship.” In addition, Bell and Dallmann see greater risk for corruption when electricity gets distributed through bigger channels. When production is happening on a large scale, power is less likely to reach the poorest of the poor, they say. “What will happen, most likely, in most African countries is the rich, connected and more well-to-do will be the ones that get the power in their region, and the desperately poor will be overpassed,” Dallmann says. Waddle has seen corruption in many projects, and that’s why he firmly advocates for members owning the infrastructure through a co-op, where the local power consumers also govern the operation and benefit from the revenue, instead of distant stockholders. “We believe that involving communities in the governance and decision-making is essential,” he says. At the same time, there’s only so much that faith-based and smaller organizations can do to provide electricity to mass amounts of people, according to Leffingwell. He and Runge say partnerships between African leaders and U.S. firms providing the power are also crucial to the success of electricity projects. “It’s really working within that community and what infrastructure they have,” Runge says. “It’s more working in partnership.”
POWER AND BASIC HUMAN NEEDS For Christians in the West, bringing physical light to the needy through electricity may not be on the forefront of their minds. For years, basic human needs have been the focus of compassion ministries. But the provision of electricity is intimately connected to issues such as clean water, poverty and hunger. Everyone wants to build wells in Africa, but without electricity, wells can only run as deep as 90 meters, Dallmann says. That eliminates many parts of rural Africa, where electrical pumps are necessary to reach the deeper water tables. In addition, the provision of physical light in Africa will only increase the ability to spread the light of Christ, as well. That’s why many people of faith who
GET INVOLVED YO U R T I M E VOLUNTEER: Use your skills to
serve with an organization like Engineering Ministries International or Kenya Connect. YO U R VO I C E ADVOCATE: Sign the petition asking
Congress to pass the Electrify Africa Act, and contact your representative to encourage them to support similar initiatives. YO U R R E S O U R C E S DONATE: Give to organizations
such as Solar Aid, We Care Solar or others who are providing solutions for electricity in Africa.
advocate for electricity say it’s paramount for Christians to care about brightening Africa. For ministries already functioning in Africa, electricity can greatly improve how Christians and missionaries are already helping the poor and needy. At Bongolo Hospital, which is run by the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Gabon, a group from Engineering Ministries International provided the campus with improved access to electricity, including power backups in case of blackouts. The result is improved care for patients who traveled hundreds of miles for medical attention at the hospital, where they also hear the Gospel from doctors, staff and nurses. “It’s just transformed and made a huge difference in the lives of the people there at Bongolo Hospital,” Dallmann says. “There are a lot of reasons—the hunger for electricity and the felt needs the African people have for it, the impact it can have on them, and the economic benefits—this is something we should all be concerned about, as Christians, to help as much as possible.” K ATE TR AC Y is a writer and editor living in Denver, Colorado. Follow her on Twitter at @KateTracy3.
SHOULD CHRISTIANS BOYCOTT? ‘TAKING A STAND’ DOESN’T MAKE PEOPLE LOVE JESUS B Y S C O T T S AU L S
ack in November, an evangelist posted a viral video to Facebook calling for Christians to boycott Starbucks after the coffee chain unveiled a holiday cup that didn’t directly reference Christmas. While the video elicited nothing more than an eye roll from the vast majority of Christians, it brought up an interesting question: Should Christians publicly withdraw support when a company has policies or practices they find offensive? In some instances, Christian participation in boycotts has proven virtuous and fruitful; in other instances, not so much. Consider the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, for example. The boycott was a key event in the civil rights movement. With peaceful yet prophetic zeal, participants confronted, and eventually overcame, racial injustices in the Montgomery transit system. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the national stage to expose systemic injustices against people of color perpetrated by an all-white establishment. Now, some 60 years later, there is still significant progress that must be made before we can truly call ourselves a “post-racial” nation, yet few would challenge the claim that progress has been made from the civil rights era to now. And we have the many protesters, freedom riders and boycotters to thank for it. However, there is another kind of boycotting today, one in which many Christians participate, that I believe hurts the cause of Christ more than it helps. This kind of boycotting, rather than seeking to uphold the dignity of all persons as the civil rights movement did, targets those whose ethics don’t line up with historic Christian teaching.
SUSTAINABLE CHANGE. INTENTIONAL LIVING.
For example, Christians have boycotted Abercrombie & Fitch for sexually gratuitous advertising. Others have boycotted companies like Disney, Home Depot, Starbucks, Costco and Target for policies that show support for LGBTQ concerns. But whenever Jesus encountered people whose sexual ethics contradicted Scripture—the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery, for example—He never scolded them. Rather, He treated them with compassion and emphasized that, with Him, grace was their starting point. “I do not condemn you,” Jesus said to the adulteress, “now leave your life of sin.” The order of these two sentences means everything. Reverse the order and you lose Christianity. You lose grace. You lose Jesus. How many people have you met who fell in love with Jesus because Christians scolded or boycotted them because of their ethics? I have been a Christian for 25 years and a minister for 17. I have never met one. It is God’s kindness that leads people to repent, not people’s repentance that leads God to be kind. More times than not, this message gets lost when Christians replace gestures of love and friendship with protests, boycotts and “taking a stand.” The Apostle Paul told Christians in Corinth that sexual immorality outside the Church is God’s business, not theirs. It is sexual immorality inside the Church that Christians should be concerned about: adultery, pornography, loveless marriages, no-fault divorce. These are all sins in the Church that command our care, attention and repentance. For unless and until we take steps to heal sin inside the Church, any boycotts and protests against sin “out there” will fall on deaf ears—and rightly so. As Madeleine L’Engle said in Walking on Water: “We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” Let’s start there, shall we?
SCOTT SAULS is senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville and author of Jesus Outside the Lines. Follow him on Twitter at @scottsauls.
J UST 8 PERCEN T OF PEOPL E ACH IE V E T H EIR R E S O L U T I O N S . I F Y O U WA N T T O B E O N E O F T H E M , S TA R T W I T H R E A L IZI NG YOU’R E A R E A L HUM A N.
December, but you might be able to run that first marathon.
SKIP THE GIMMICKS If the ticket to washboard abs seems just a little too low-committal, the method to wipe out tens of thousands of dollars of student loans seems a little too simple or the ability to speak fluent Swahili seems curiously easy, then, unfortunately, it probably is.
FOCUS ON THINGS YOU ACTUALLY LIKE DOING
BY J E S S E C A R E Y
ew Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. Sure, they’re a little cliché. They don’t carry any real consequences. And they often either involve giving up something you enjoy or starting something you don’t. Your previous attempts at becoming a multilingual, clean-eating, daily Biblereading, Crossfit pro who watches less TV may have sputtered out after a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make changes in the New Year that stick. Here’s a our guide to making resolutions you’ll actually want—and be able—to keep.
BE REALISTIC There’s nothing wrong with wanting to launch a successful tech startup, write a best-selling novel or complete an Ironman Triathlon. But it’s easy to forget that most successful people dedicate their entire lives to accomplishing their goals. Ambition is a good thing, but if you set the goal so high that it’s nearly impossible to reach, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead of trying to cram a decade’s worth of accomplishments into a single year, start by setting achievable milestones. You may not be qualifying for the Olympics in distance running by
No one likes giving up chocolate, watching less Netflix or going to bed earlier every night. Unless you’re some kind of monk who enjoys acts of extreme self-discipline— like limiting yourself to just two episodes of House of Cards at a time—then a better strategy may be to focus on doing things you enjoy instead of just on depriving yourself. Resolve to read more books you like, spend more time in face-to-face conversation, get outdoors more, meet your neighbors, and so on. Resolutions don’t have to feel like some sort of sadistic David Blaine feat of endurance (an entire year without soda!).
REMEMBER THAT RESOLUTIONS ARE NOT LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACTS We’ve got good news: Despite misconceptions, there are not actually any legal ramifications for consuming a donut or missing an evening devotional reading, despite having verbally resolved to do otherwise. In most scenarios, law enforcement will likely not be contacted if you decide not to wake up extra early to run three miles.
DON’T TREAT A RESOLUTION LIKE A REALITY TV COMPETITION Thankfully, most New Year’s resolutions don’t require you to publicly stand on a giant scale in spandex while your week’s weight loss results are broadcast to America. So there’s no reason to treat personal fitness goals like a competition. Sure, during those first few weeks in January, you may be motivated to spend irrational amounts of time on the treadmill or do those weird rope-pulling exercises like $1 million is on the line. But by the time March rolls around, you’ll be so burned out that your weight bench will end up becoming a very expensive clothing rack. The only thing worse than feeling like a New Year’s resolution failure is feeling like
a New Year’s resolution failure who also injured their lower back while attempting to flip a comically large tire up a hill.
GET TECHNICAL A key to keeping your resolution might be in your pocket. Want to read the Bible in a year? Download the YouVersion app on your phone and get a reading emailed to you every day. Want to stay on budget? Check out a personal finance site like Mint. com. Trying to lose weight? Put a few calorie counting apps on your iPad. Most of the resources you need to keep your resolutions are free and can be taken with you wherever you go. All you have to do is use them.
BE ACCOUNTABLE—NOT OBLIGATED Boldly posting a detailed list of all of your ambitious resolutions for each of your Facebook friends to see may seem like a good idea on December 30. But when it turns out that you underestimated the time commitment required to live-tweet your reading of the entire Bible in both Greek and Hebrew, you might feel a little embarrassed when your project starts to taper off in February. Staying accountable to a friend can be a positive way stay on track, sure, but be careful about being so jazzed about your life-changing resolutions that you make public promises you can’t keep.
RESOLVE TO DO THINGS THAT IMPROVE OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES, NOT JUST YOUR OWN Try committing to more charity work. Talk to someone in your church about leading a Bible study. Be a mentor to someone younger than you. Not only will you be doing something positive in the life of a person in need, you’ll also be more motivated to keep your resolution, knowing that someone else is counting on you.
MAKE MORE MARGIN IN YOUR LIFE When it comes to making resolutions, sometimes less is more. Instead of trying to cram more commitments into your schedule, resolve to cut some out. Open up margin to pray, to rest, to be spontaneous. There’s a reason even God took a day to do nothing. JESSE CARE Y is a senior editor at RELEVANT and a mainstay on the RELEVANT Podcast.
THEY HAVE A NEW LABEL, NEW MANAGEMENT AND A NEW APPROACH. IS THIS THE MUTEMATH ALBUM WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR?
B Y M AT T C O N N E R
ceremony ever took place. No vows were exchanged. But, in a sense, the members of Mutemath admit they’re married all the same. Paul Meany calls it an “unsaid commitment,” a dedication on the part of all involved—Meany, the band’s vocalist; drummer Darren King; bassist/guitarist Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas; guitarist Todd Gummerman (the newest addition)—to stay the course. For better or worse. Mutemath’s musical marriage was tested over the last few years, which explains, to some degree, the time taken to record Vitals, the band’s first studio release since 2011’s Odd Soul. Demands on the home front increased as families grew. Personal tragedies hit and professional conflicts emerged. Songs were written and then discarded. Producers, too. “What’s been going on the last four years? A big part of it was some of our grandparents passed away and we had kids,” King says. “We moved to a different place in the hierarchy of our families. It was both sad and beautiful. It was the kind of the thing you want to make sure you go through and feel and don’t skip out on. It slows you down, but it’s good for you.”
renovation?” he continues. “That’s a slow process. Whenever you start that process of starting over, you pull out one rotten board and then it’s, ‘Gosh, we have to do all of this, too?’ That’s just part of the process.” King calls it the “boring part of the business of a band,” the behind-the-scenes mechanics of home life, creative chemistry and business structure that impact the music. Without those elements, however, there is no Mutemath. For a band starting into their second decade together, making music isn’t as straightforward now as it was on releases like 2004’s Reset EP or even 2009’s Armistice. “The thing that I think kept us going is the brotherhood in our band,” Meany says. “It’s this dynamic that has been cultivated over the past 10 years and has become stronger. I feel like there’s a certain unsaid commitment within our band. It’s hard to articulate as I’m thinking about it now, but we believe there’s still something special in the atmosphere for us to uncover. “We just needed to push a little harder. It wasn’t time to throw in the towel, and I’m glad we uncovered that for ourselves. That became the underlying theme through this record. It paralleled so many parts of our lives, from creative to metaphorical to literal.”
UPS AND DOWNS
FOLLOWING THE FEELING
Though the band members can now see that their hiatus was healthy, in the midst of it, they questioned the work, the growth it took to stay Mutemath. “We started this because we enjoyed it,” Meany says. “It was something that was inspiring to us and, for the first time, we were facing a situation where it was requiring more work than it normally had in the past. We just wanted to make sure the sparks were there, so it took some time to talk it through, to wrap our heads around whether we were just overthinking things, and asking, ‘Do we need to bulldog through?’” King adds, “I’ve been married long enough to have been through a lot of ups and downs, so that, to me, is where the lyrics tend to come from. It’s all from a place of somebody who is in that type of committed situation, which was the band, too, both as a business and also as just a thing we do because we love doing it. “How do you rebuild it when it’s time for
The band did indeed push through, but they scrapped almost an entire album in the process. In 2012, as Mutemath was touring Odd Soul, they rented a house on the historic Oak Street in New Orleans and spent their time in-between tour dates writing and recording songs for a new album. The next year, the band spent time in King’s studio in Tyler, Texas. At the end of 2013, after returning from playing a festival in India, Mutemath came back together for a “listening party” of sorts to hear all the songs they had recorded to date. Meany didn’t expect what he heard. “I was waiting to have a very euphoric feeling,” he recalls. “That’s what I wanted. I felt we had worked so long and hard, but it was a sinking feeling. It was like, ‘Gosh, we don’t have it. This is not the record we were hoping for.’ “When we went into this recording, we wanted something to feel alive,” he continues. “We knew that we were going to be talking a lot about
ADDING IT ALL UP Mutemath has gone through some ups and downs since Meany and King started collaborating in 2002. Here are some notable milestones behind their albums:
A RMI S TI CE ( 2009)
O DD S O UL ( 2011)
The band won a Grammy for the music video for “Typical,” a single oﬀ their debut album.
The process of making the band’s sophomore album almost split them up.
Guitarist Todd Gummerman joined the band during the making of their third album.
certain life-and-death themes, because there was this transitional time we were in that we were trying to translate into the music. The dots just hadn’t been connected yet. There was more of a depressing feeling to the music than this alive feeling. So we were like, ‘Gosh, we’ve gotta keep working.’” In the end, only two songs from that writing and recording stint ended up
to feel like. After sending the ideas back and forth, the foundation of the record was laid and Vitals began to take shape. “The sound is not as drastically different, as we had expected it would be,” King says. “As we were working on it, we talked about how we tried to put ourselves in a different mode and do all these different things and not fall onto the beaten path.
the first time. Meany calls it a “happy key.” “I think that brings the vibe we wanted and had never quite uncovered before this record,” he says. “We’ve never had a song in that key, which is really strange, but there are quite a few on this record, and I think that does something to the sound and to the listening experience in comparison to the other records.” “We’re less likely to get a sports highlight reel placement with this record,” King says with a laugh. “Our manager got called by NFL or ESPN or something, and they said, ‘Does Mutemath have anything in their new songs?’ They said, ‘’mm, not so much this time around. They’re getting soft. They’ve got kids. They’ve got little girls now.’”
DOING THE MATH
L-R: Paul Meany, Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas, Darren King, Todd Gummerman
making the final cut for the new album. For the rest, the members of Mutemath started over. As a New Year’s resolution in 2014, they each took the month of January to retreat to their homes and write a song—or part of a song—every single day. The goal, Meany says, was not to overthink it, but instead just let the writing flow out of what they wanted the album
“Then, at the end of the day, it still sounded like the four of us. We are who we are, and whenever we work together, it is a certain thing. It is either we made a good Mutemath record or we made a bad one, and I think we made a good one.” One way Vitals stands out from its predecessors is its positivity, partially a musical product of writing songs in C major for
Despite being armed with new songs, new themes and a new lineup, both King and Meany say the measure of success for Mutemath is still quite simple: to create songs that connect with fans. “I think about how [musical] goals are moving,” Meany says. “For the longest time, it was to be able to hang a gold record or a platinum record on my wall, but I’ve kind of let go of that. That’s like a lottery ticket. “It’s a different world now. But it is about the live show at the end—any record that continues to arm us to keep playing shows. You begin to see more people showing and congregate along this collection of songs that are coming together. That’s an amazing thing.” MAT T CONNER is a freelance writer, editor-inchief of Stereo Subversion and managing editor of Pledge Music.
B Y E R I C VA N VA L I N
IN ON E OF T HE LE AST R ELIGIOUS CI T IES IN T HE C O U N T R Y, A H A N D F U L O F N E W C H U RC H E S A R E S E T T I N G T H E S TAG E F O R S P I R I T UA L R E V I VA L
eemingly ripped from one of Los Angeles’ fashion billboards, hundreds of twentysomethings create a line down Sunset Boulevard outside of an LA nightclub. When the red rope gets pulled back, the crowd is treated to a sensory experience of bright rhythmic lights, impressionistic videos and an auditory explosion with decibels that shake your chest cavity. Then, the crowd begins to sing praise and worship songs. An offering is taken, a sermon is preached, the altar call is given. This is the scene at the first service of Zoe Church, a new LA church plant whose christening took place at the infamous 1OAK nightclub on the Sunset Strip. “They’re having church at 1OAK?” remarks a seasoned bouncer at a rival nightclub after hearing about Zoe’s location. “That’s where Suge Knight got shot.” Zoe was started by Pastor Chad Veach, who moved his family from Seattle to LA in 2014 to start a church that is almost entirely staffed by and seeking to serve those born in the ’90s. The congregation stands in total opposition to the recent Pew Research Center study that suggests those under the age of 30 are less likely to identify as Christian than any time since the 1930s, with the steepest rate of declines happening in the past 10 years. Veach sees reaching LA’s next generation as necessary to the future of the Church. “We’re creeping up on a post-Christian society, on a brink of what we believe in our religion being a hate crime,” he says. “We need something in influential major cities that stands up—not so we can protect the morals of our nation, but so God can change the hearts of people.”
STAYING PUT Another major player and recent church plant that is providing a spiritual swell in the city is Hillsong LA, the West Coast branch of the Australian megachurch, which has 100,000 members worldwide. The LA iteration began modestly, with 20 people meeting in Pastor Ben Houston’s house in January 2014 before growing to a crowd that packs out The Belasco Theatre, a 2,500-seat downtown venue where Hillsong hosts their four Sunday services. “We didn’t have any grand plan for us as a church. It was something God broke my heart for,” Houston explains. “We’ve
really just tried to set our hearts on the people of Los Angeles and do everything we can to point people to Jesus.” Houston recently announced Hillsong signed a lease on a building that will keep the church in the city for the next 25 years. “We’ve tried to really build something with longevity,” he explains. “This is a transient city, but we’re not going to be a transient church.” Veach suggests the appeal of these young pastors and their young churches is more inherent than strategic.
“We’re old-school,” he says. “We preach the Bible, proclaim the Gospel, point people to Jesus and trust the Holy Spirit to build the Church. The pressure is not on us to build something. We really believe Jesus builds His Church, and so there’s a freedom that comes with that.” Treat sees the past decade as major revitalization for churches in the area and for LA as a whole. “Ten years ago, there was hardly anything around here in terms of churches. At least Bible-preaching churches,” he
A service at ZOE Church
“It’s natural, you follow your favor. If you naturally have an audience, then you run with that.” When asked how he would describe what’s happening in LA, Houston replies, “I’m not afraid to use the word ‘revival’— I think it’s exactly what we’re in. We’re seeing a flood of young, passionate church planters who have moved into the city and have a heart to build something. We’re seeing thousands of people respond to Jesus, seeing thousands of people helped.”
SOMETHING BIGGER An example of a “veteran” church in the area would be Reality LA. Founded in 2004, the church has sustained a severalthousand-member congregation in the heart of Hollywood over the past decade. Jeremy Treat, pastor for preaching & vision at Reality LA, sees it as a church that is serving those under 30 by sticking to the basics.
says. “LA has changed so much, too. I can remember in 1999, downtown was a ghost town. It shut down at like 5 o’clock. It’s so different now, booming, in a lot of ways. It’s amazing how much LA has changed— and it’s changing really fast.” Treat also recognizes there’s no limit to the need for new churches to the city. “You’re talking about 500 square miles and 4 million people. We could have 1,000 more Reality LAs tomorrow and you still wouldn’t have enough room for all of the people in Los Angeles to go to church on a Sunday. For me, the more the merrier.” And while Treat freely issues encouragement for what’s happening, he also acknowledges a need for patience. “I think the Lord’s doing something that’s bigger than any one church,” he says. “But I would want to give more time to judge the fruit of it before saying words like ‘revival’ or ‘awakening.’ I’m hoping and praying these churches are making
disciples. If it’s just kind of a movement and ‘rah-rah’ that people kind of move from here to there, then that’s going to be bad for the city of LA in the long run.”
CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS One of the most notable characteristics of these new-approach pastors is their willingness to embrace the pop-culture makers of their generation. Judah Smith, the Seattle pastor who is close with Justin Bieber, started a weekly Bible study in a five-star hotel off the famous Rodeo Drive, seemingly catering to the LA elite. Veach and Houston regularly spend time with young celebrities and pro athletes. Kendall Jenner and Kevin Durant even got tattoos in support of Veach’s daughter, Georgia, who was diagnosed with a rare brain disease. “Some may ask, ‘Why would you hang out with that artist, or that model, or that rapper?’” Veach says. “‘Don’t you know what they sing about? Don’t you know they made a sex tape? How could you be friends with them?’ These are the people Jesus hung out with. He hung out with notorious sinners.”
famous people on the world, no matter where you fit in-between, we create an environment where people feel valued.” Stylistically, churches like Hillsong and Zoe seek to offer “experiential” worship services. They feature loud, passionate worship, engaging call-and-response preaching style and an exhortation for salvation at every service. This makes them fit in the vein of charismatic and nontraditional liturgy that can be traced back to 1906 to LA’s original spiritual movement, the Azusa Street Revival, which Pentecostal scholar Cecil M. Robeck Jr. calls “the birthplace of Pentecostalism.” “These are never new wells,” Veach says. “We’re the result of the power of a praying parent. I’d like to think what’s happening in LA is the result of a lot of people praying for this city, begging God to move and believing for signs and wonders.”
A DIFFERENT APPROACH On the other side of the denominational spectrum and the other side of the Hollywood Hills is Story City Church, a Southern Baptist church plant in Burbank, California. The church’s pastor, Matt
This 50-year denominational absence has caused Lawson and Story City to somewhat start from scratch in the neighborhood. The church found a venue in the comedy club Flappers, whose website boldly bears the motto “Still Celebrating the Repeal of Prohibition.” It’s an unlikely location for a conservative church, but simply finding a location to gather can be difficult when rent rates rival those of New York City and London. “It’s a hard place to plant a church,” Lawson says. “It’s almost impossible unless you have a network of churches supporting you.” Despite the challenges, Lawson recognizes a definite need for continuing to plant in rough ground. “There are 19 million people in metro LA,” he says. “I hear people say, ‘I feel like this is the loneliest place I’ve ever been.’ I think people experience that whether they live in Beverly Crest or they’re 22 years old trying to make it in the industry. It’s a city where nobody comes to give something to you; everybody comes to get something.” To combat this mentality, Story City Church has begun hosting free movie nights in local parks as well as providing random acts of kindness like paying for an afternoon of car washes for Burbank locals. “In our city, we think there’s something redemptive about generosity,” Lawson explains. “Our approach is to simply say, ‘We’re here to serve and to give.’”
Baptisms at Reality LA
Houston attributes the attraction of celebrities as a sign that the Church can offer a space where class isn’t an issue. “All we’ve tried to do is love people in the city God has called us to,” he explains. “Whether you’re sleeping on the street or you’re one of the most photographed and
Lawson, partly felt the need to plant in that area because there just weren’t many other options of his ilk in a city known for its culturally progressive lean. Lawson explains, “Until two years ago, there hadn’t been any churches from our stream planted in the Valley since 1965.”
Another challenge facing LA church plants is navigating how to appeal to and include diverse populations in their congregations. U.S. Census Bureau statistics from 2015 showed that over 83 percent of the children under the age of 5 in LA were part of a minority race or ethnic group. 2015 also marked the year that Latinos became the largest ethnic group in California. Estimates suggest that by 2040, LA’s Hispanic population will be double the size of all other nationalities put together. This raises an interesting question: What will it look like for a new group of young white males to lead churches as the minority? “Being a minority doesn’t say enough. We’re a privileged minority,” offers Jon Ziegler, a Caucasian father of two who recently started Gold Line Church, an
A service at Hillsong LA
Anglican parish, with his wife and copastor, Janna. The couple, in their mid30s, have positioned themselves to plant in the ever-gentrifying neighborhood of Highland Park, where Hispanics outnumber other ethnicities eight to one. “We strive for diversity,” Jon says, “to serve both the Latino community and those with skinny jeans.” The Zieglers started Gold Line with Colombian transplant missionaries Juan and Maria Marentes, who hope to represent the Spanish-speaking majority in the neighborhood. During a Gold Line Church service, worship choruses bounce from English to Spanish, creating a new type of “call and response” worship. “We’re figuring this out,” Jon says from the pulpit at their inaugural service. “For those of you who are Spanish dominant, please let us know how we can improve.” Gold Line’s challenge is one many neighborhoods in LA will have to address as communities of varying portions of Asians, Hispanics, Arabs, Native Americans, Caucasians and African-Americans seek to integrate and worship together. It’s a challenge many pastors see as a tremendous opportunity. “I always tell people you can fulfill the Great Commission by going to all the
nations or going to Los Angeles, where the nations have all come to one place,” Reality LA’s Jeremy Treat says. “I love that aspect of it. [But] it’s also hard.” In a recent national event titled “The Turbulent Church in 21st Century America,” professors and presidents from some of the nation’s top seminaries gathered to discuss challenges faced by the modern church in America. A major theme of discussion was, unsurprisingly, race. “Our religious leaders are diversity blind, and Sunday morning is the most segregated day of the week,” said Oscar Garcia-Johnson, the associate dean for The Center for the Study of Hispanic Church and Community at Fuller Theological Seminary. He cited an example found in the very way we name our churches: “We have black churches, Korean churches, African churches, Hispanic churches, then we have ‘the Church.’”
JUST GETTING STARTED Back in Highland Park, Jon and Janna seek to create a space that works against systemic segregation. In addition to creating a bilingual church, they’re also starting a liturgical-focused Anglican parish. “Neither of which exist in Highland Park,” Jon says.
Despite the challenges, the Zieglers can’t see doing it any other way. “Part of it is how we understand the Gospel. We don’t invent the Church, but we are being reinvented by the Church,” Janna explains. “We are called to include all of God’s people. The kind of people we invite—we don’t feel like we get to decide that. That has been decided, and we are doing best to facilitate that.” The Zieglers see the Anglican community as middle ground for the two main Christian traditions in their Highland Park neighborhood, which they describe as a mix of Roman Catholics and Pentecostals. The degree of difficulty is not lost on the young pastors. “We are asking everyone to be uncomfortable with something,” Janna says. “Can you participate in a worship experience that’s not all going to be in your language, that’s not all going to be in your Christian tradition?” Like many of the other pastors of growing churches in LA, the Zieglers know they are just getting started. “Pray for us,” Jon says. ERIC VANVALIN is a writer and fillmmaker living in LA. Find more on his blog, pickingupshells.com.
FOR THIS GROUP OF FORMER CHURCH KIDS, MUSIC ISN’T ABOUT FITTING INTO A GENRE
nyone who struggles to put a label on Wavves’ style of music shouldn’t feel too bad. Are they lo-fi? Or more pop-punk? Surf-rock? Definitely indie-rock at least, right? Whatever hyphenated adjective one might prefer, rest assured that even band member and bassist Stephen Pope has a
hard time describing their sound. “I feel like we write a lot of different styles of music, but probably every band thinks that about themselves,” he says. The band released their fifth studio album, V, in October. Pope says the writing process was a bit different than their other albums because band members Nathan Williams, Alex Gates, Brian Hill and Pope were all living in Los Angeles and were able to spend more time together.
“We had a good six or eight months of down time, and we were just writing a lot,” Pope says. “It’s the first time we’ve all lived in the same city. Now that we’re all in the same place, it was just easier to get together and flesh out songs.” Living closer together made the writing process easier than on their 2013 album, Afraid of Heights. “For Afraid of Heights, it was a lot of sending snippets of ideas for songs over
2015, they also released a collaboration album with Cloud Nothings titled No Life for Me. “[V] feels more organized than the last album,” Pope explains. “It’s pretty much just pop songs. There’s no weird interlude-y filler or anything like that, but that wasn’t really a conscious effort. It just ended up being that way, and we liked the way it turned out. “We prepared more for this album,” he continues. “We’re not
“He has a collection of every sort of thing you could imagine—and things that you don’t know exist. It was like a playground. It was just inspiring to be able to make and create sounds that we had never heard before.” The unusual equipment and atmosphere of the studio seemed to stimulate the band’s work. “We went and just spent a few months in the studio,” Pope says. “We knocked it out pretty fast,
“I THINK WE WERE ALL IN BETTER PLACES IN OUR HEADS AND IN OUR LIVES, SO I GUESS THAT WAS KIND OF INSPIRING IN ITSELF.”
Wavves’ latest has all the upbeat, indie punk rock the band’s become known for.
emails and then working them out in the studio,” Pope says. “We ended up spending over a year doing that album, which is probably too much time. But on V, we got together a lot and wrote together. It was just way easier.” Wavves wrote and recorded V after finishing their tour for Afraid of Heights. Prior to that, the band released the self-titled Wavves (2008), Wavvves (2009) and King of the Beach (2010). In
very good at, like, jamming. I guess we’re not that type of band. So if we don’t have any material ready and you sit us all together in front of instruments, it’s going to take a while before we come up with something.” In addition to increasing their preparation album-wise, Wavves has increased their stability lineupwise. The group started out as just a duo featuring Pope and Williams in 2008, then gradually started forming into what it is today. “[Our identity] is kind of always evolving,” Pope says. “It’s been pretty stable for the past three years or so. We have Brian Hill playing drums for us now. He’s the first drummer we’ve had that has stayed for longer than a year. So, just writing songs with him and his drumming style in mind, that helps a lot.” Also making V different was its producer, Woody Jackson, with whom Wavves worked in writing songs for the soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto V and coinciding album, Welcome to Los Santos. “[Jackson] has an awesome studio in Hollywood from the ’20s. It has all of the original weird sound-proofing stuff and lots of cool, old equipment,” Pope says.
especially compared to the last record we had done. Part of that was just we were more prepared, and then also we were just in a better mood and more excited to be recording. I think we were all just in better places in our heads and in our lives, so I guess that was kind of inspiring in itself, just to have energy to create stuff.” Optimistic about the current state of the broader music scene and about the direction of their band, Pope says Wavves is already at work on their next album. They are hoping for a release date sometime in 2016 or by early 2017. “I see hope,” he says. “I think even pop music is in a pretty good place now. There are a lot of actual good mainstream acts, whereas even five years ago, that wasn’t the case. I don’t think that’s changed our writing much, because really with this album, we’re starting to get actual radio play. “But we’re by no means a top40 band or near that, so I don’t really feel a change in our music or really in our career right now. I see just music as a whole being in a pretty good place.” JOSH HAYES (@perpetual_hayes) is content and production editor for The Gospel Project for Adults,
BY J O N AC U F F
P O S T- C O L L E G E L I F E ISN’T QUIT E AS WOR L D - CH A NGI NG AS MOST PEOPLE THINK IT WILL BE. SO W E ASKED W O R K- L I F E G U R U J O N A C U F F W H AT TO DO WHEN REALIT Y HITS.
would rather binge-watch Netflix than do just about anything else. That’s a terrible opening sentence to an article that’s supposed to motivate you to have an amazing year, but it’s true. If the command to “Pray without ceasing” was actually “Watch Netflix without ceasing,” my holiness would get me a ticket on the straight-shot-to-heaven express. It’s just too easy. Every time I finish an episode of a show, Netflix beckons me, “How about we go another round?” I can’t help myself. Minutes become hours become nights spent in the warm glow of content galloping across my eyeballs. The strange thing is that I’ve never felt better after. I’ve never ended a bingewatching session and thought, “You know what? My life is really going places! That four hours of straight television left me renewed and invigorated.” If anything, it makes me feel closer to a mid-life crisis. You might be too young for a “mid-life” crisis—the sports-car-buying, terribledecision-making season that hits people in their 40s or 50s. Fear not, though, we’ve invented a new one for you: the quarterlife crisis. No word yet on if people in their 60s experience a “three-quarter-life crisis,” but give us time. When Jay-Z gets that old and declares 60 the new 40, we’ll find a way to come up with an additional crisis. Until then, we’ve only got your garden variety mid-life and quarter-life to deal with. Maybe you’re not at full-on crisis level right now. You just feel a little stuck. The job you have isn’t the job you want. You thought you’d have more of your story figured out by now. It seems like everyone else has their lives put together perfectly. We all feel that way sometimes, but usually not in January. We crush January. We’re going to get in shape, find a new job and eat so much kale in January! Only, deep down, we know February is coming and after it, 10 other resolution-killing months.
How do you shake yourself loose if you’re stuck? How do you prevent even getting stuck in the first place? Here are three simple ways to blow up your quarter-life crisis in 2016:
STOP TRYING TO FIND YOUR PERFECT CALLING Let’s declare 2016 the year you give your search for a calling a rest. I know that, next to your keys, your calling is the most popular thing to look for. There are hundreds of books and blogs and motivational speakers that promise to help you “find your calling,” “discover your passion” and “figure out your purpose” in life. Some of them are great, but most of them are terrible, and if you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked into a Sharknado-like vortex that wastes your entire year. There are a number of reasons trying to find your calling is such a useless exercise. First of all, it tends to promise you that there’s only one calling out there for you. That perhaps, if you try hard enough, you’ll stumble through the woods of your life into a clearing. There, in a perfectly green glade next to a LaCroix sparkling water river, will be your narwhal of purpose. It was hard, you had to constantly reference Philippians 4:13 on your epic journey, but you made it! You found the one purpose you’ll have forever. But that’s ridiculous. You won’t find one thing at 25 or at 35 or at 45 that you’ll do for the rest of your life. You’re going to do a lot of different things in the coming years. The second reason searching for your calling is so toxic is that it tends to ruin the job you have right now. The minute something difficult comes up at work, you’ll think, “Is this really my calling? Is this the job I was knitted in the womb to do?” As you soul-search for the answer, the expense report you were supposed to file will go ignored. The meetings you have to attend will seem unnecessary and annoying. When seen through the “find your calling” glasses, a lot of things your job requires will frustrate you. If someone is paying you money to do a
job, your paycheck is your calling for that season. You don’t need to go down long, luxurious rabbit trails. Just do your job. The third and final reason “finding your calling” is such a dangerously wasteful expedition is that if you’re a Christian, you already have one. You already have dozens, in fact. The Bible is full of callings for you.
we go to church with. It’s far easier to hope for an adventure “someday” than it is to see the adventure of today. “Someday” doesn’t force us to change our lives. “Someday” doesn’t require us to be kind to people who are difficult. “Someday” doesn’t make us do our jobs as if we’re doing them unto the Lord.
GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU MIGHT BE TO TAKE YOU ACROSS THE GLOBE ON AN ADVENTURE EVENTUALLY, BUT IN THE MEANTIME, DON’T FORGET YOU’RE ALREADY ON ONE. If you feel stuck right now and don’t know what your calling is, try “Love your neighbor” on for size. Already absolutely crushing that one? Graduate to “Love your enemy.” Both of those feel too hard? Start with the call to focus on the noble and beautiful things we’ve been given. God just called you to engage with more art. Make this the year you stop binge-watching television and start binge-experiencing beauty. You’ve got a veritable buffet of answers in the Bible to the question, “What is my calling?” Open it up, pick one and go.
LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE When I was writing the book Stuff Christians Like, there was a lady at work I didn’t get along with. Let’s pretend her name is The Terminator. (That wasn’t her name, but if I pick a fake name like “Heather,” at least one of the Heathers I’ve worked with is going to reach out to me on Facebook after she’s read this article.) I didn’t get along with The Terminator. I avoided her at all costs, gossiped about her and, in general, was a huge jerk to her. One morning, while I wrote a chapter in my book, I prayed, “Lord, please use this book to bless people.” I felt like God immediately responded to me and said, “The Terminator is people.” Ohhh, body blow! Sometimes, in our attempt to change our lives, we stand at the window, looking out over the horizon. We pray, “Lord, call me on an adventure! Use the gifts I’ve been given to help people around the world know your love!” We pray for far off people in far off lands and ignore that the room behind us is already full of people—people we work with, people we live with, people
“Someday” doesn’t change the world. The truth is, you’ve already been given a world that needs you. God’s plan for you might be to take you across the globe on an adventure eventually, but in the meantime, don’t forget you’re already on one. IF YOU HAVE A JOB, YOU’RE ON AN ADVENTURE. IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A JOB, YOU’RE ON AN ADVENTURE. IF YOU HAVE A FAMILY, YOU’RE ON AN ADVENTURE. IF YOU HAVE FRIENDS, YOU’RE ON AN ADVENTURE.
When we get stuck, we lose sight of the places we’re in and the people we’re in them with. We get distracted and miss out on so many amazing things that are happening all around us. This year, instead of praying for an adventure, admit you’re already on one and jump into it with both feet.
RECOGNIZE YOU HAVE MORE OPPORTUNITIES THAN ANY OTHER GENERATION EVER I don’t know how people wrote motivational articles in the 1960s. I know they did, because magazines existed then, but without the bevy of opportunities the Internet offers us, what advice could they really give? They couldn’t tell you that if you have a passion, you should plug into a community built around that interest online. They couldn’t tell you that if you’ve got a new idea, there are ways to take classes online. They couldn’t tell you to reach out
to an expert on Twitter who is prone to answering questions from curious people fighting a quarter-life crisis. Your parents’ world was smaller. They were bound to geography when they wanted to find a new job. You’re not, with telecommuting booming and freelance opportunities available regardless of your physical address. If your parents got stuck and wanted to learn something new, they needed a car to get to the library or an encyclopedia that was out of date the second it was printed. Not you. Thanks to Google, you no longer have the option of saying, “I don’t know how to do ________.” You have access to tools that make the Back to the Future hoverboards we never got in 2015 look absolutely primitive. The gatekeepers are all gone, except for the one who can still cause damage if you’re not careful: you. Recognize the opportunities you have and start taking advantage of them. You should never end a list of items with a list, but these are heady times, my friends. And there are two things I know about you even if we’ve never met: 1. You’re capable of more than you think. 2. It’s going to take more work than you think. The first one is true because everyone I’ve ever worked with was surprised by what they could accomplish if they really tried. We tend to be terrible judges of our own talents, abilities and futures. The second is true because anything that matters takes hard work. Our binge-watching might be instant, but our lives won’t be. You’ll have to work hard to get a job you want. You’ll have to spend years and years to become an expert in your field. Looking up a Bible verse that calls you to something is easy, it’s the living it out that gets difficult. You’ve got a whole year to work on it, though. And you’ve got a lot more free time now that you’re not trying to find a perfect calling. Fight the quarter-life, mid-life and maybe even eventual three-quarter-life crisis. Life is too fun to stay stuck.
JON ACUFF is the New York Times best-selling author of five books, including his new one, Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work And Never Get Stuck. Follow him @JonAcuff and read more at DoOver.me.
WOR DS BY A ARON CLINE HANBURY P H O T O S B Y PAT R I C K M I C H A E L C H I N
HE’S A CHR IST IA N ICON A ND ONE OF T HE BIGGEST NAMES IN HIPHOP. BU T YOU ALR EADY K NOW T HAT. W HAT YOU DON’T K NOW IS T HE JAW-DROPPING STORY OF T HE M A N BEHIND I T ALL.
To call it a “unique platform” would be an understatement. There was Lecrae, a feature performer on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, with millions watching. About four months earlier, the multiGrammy winner made his network debut on Fallon after his album Anomaly hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart (only the fifth time a Christian artist has achieved that mark). Almost immediately, fans around the country got the hashtag #LecraeOnFallon trending. The show noticed and invited him on to sit in with Fallon’s house band, The Roots. Lecrae was so impressive that first night, it ended with Fallon saying to him, “Whoa! You’re dope! We’ve got to have you back.” And so Lecrae came back on the show in January 2015, graduated from the sidestage to a feature spot. His breakout Fallon performance that night still brings Lecrae attention—his neighbors love to talk about it—but of course, a lot has happened since then: other national TV performances, sold-out tours, parties at Jay-Z’s house and Grammy nominations competing with the likes of Drake, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. It’s safe to say Lecrae is venturing where few Christian artists have before. Lecrae’s music is known for being bold, even raw, and in some of the songs, he’s shared part of his story. But those songs, no matter how powerful, don’t compare to the unfiltered, real story.
Lecrae Devaughn Moore was born in a county hospital in Houston, Texas. Before his first birthday, Lecrae’s mother took him away from his drug-using, drunk, temperamental, abusive father. Well before he could even say, “daddy,” Lecrae was fatherless. Mom and son landed in Denver, Colorado, where the rambunctious Lecrae got in all kinds of trouble—mostly the
mischievous kid kind. Even then, Lecrae knew he was acting out to try to get the attention his father couldn’t give him. He would lay in bed fantasizing about his dad. He says he just knew his father could walk in and fix all of his problems. And yet, young Lecrae lived with the feeling that his dad wanted drugs more than a son. “Underneath all of my pain and misbehavior was a sense of emptiness,” he says. And so, even when he wasn’t rebelling or breaking down emotionally, “there was a dull, throbbing sense of rejection and abandonment.” This set Lecrae searching for acceptance and belonging. First, there were friendships with the other kids at the Boys and Girls Club Lecrae attended after school. There was also the acceptance his budding hip-hop talent brought him. Hip-hop, at least in those days, was often intrinsically connected to gang and drug culture. And this, the world of Ice Cube and Tupac, excited Lecrae. A gang looked a lot like a family to him. And family meant belonging. He didn’t have to look far to find good examples of gang life. Growing up, Lecrae spent three to six months at a time with his grandmother in San Diego, California. But don’t think beaches and rollerblades. He was in Skyline Hills, a neighborhood that is more Compton than Mission Beach. In Skyline Hills, shootings were regular. And even though Lecrae lost more than one family friend to random gun violence, it felt somewhat normal. One time, he says, he was playing around the neighborhood and found a dead body. None of the other kids seemed to think it was big enough news to tell anyone. So they kept playing. His Denver home was tamer, but not entirely dissimilar. In fact, Lecrae would get slapped or punched so often, he assumed this kind of violence was just part of growing up. Even when his mother’s boyfriend beat him so badly that the police
arrived and took the boyfriend to jail, it was just a matter of months before the same boyfriend was moving back into the house. He brought Lecrae a Sega Genesis for his penance. This culture is where Lecrae first caught a vision of masculinity. Violence and the community-centric nature of gangs began to play the father-figure for him. “I think every young man idolizes his dad up to a point,” he says. “If you don’t have one, you’re going to find someone. That’s why young guys join gangs. You know you’re going to find worth, matter, purpose, family, leadership. You’re going to gravitate to it. Somebody’s going to be that for you.” Life in San Diego showed him women (whenever his uncle Chris would hook up with someone, he would encourage Lecrae to have sex with his date’s little sister or cousin), drugs (he would watch out for cops while his uncle was inside a drug house) and near-daily violence. But as this life around a gang intensified, Lecrae began feeling like he didn’t belong. When he was 14, he faced a crossroad just standing on a street corner. “We were issued the challenge to go after a rival gang,” he recalls. “They had come through and shot up the neighborhood, and we were told, ‘Y’all better be ready to ride.’” This meant one thing, he says: they needed to be ready to kill or be killed repaying the shooting. “I remember thinking, like, ‘This is real. Like, kill, kill; like, die, die.’” No matter how much Lecrae admired and wanted to be a part of gang culture, he just couldn’t pass this kind of initiation. “Just being honest, I was scared,” he says. “This is life or death right here, and I chose to live.”
If you’re only mildly familiar with Lecrae, you probably think of him as “Christian rapper.” But he rejects that label. “I say I’m an artist,” he says without hesitation. But he knows the distinction. “When you know the nuances and the depth of it and you have the robust understanding of faith and art, you can’t perpetuate something that’s not true.” What is true, he says, is that God is a “master artist,” and so all art talks about Him. The only question for the artist is, “What are you saying?” Lecrae is visibly excited at this point, leaning forward on the couch. He’s adamant that art—his art— fits right in with a Kingdom view of the world. “In music, misogyny rules,” he says. “Well, we know misogyny is unacceptable in the grand scheme of things—this woman was created with dignity, worth and value, and so to demean her is not stepping in line with God’s intention.
“So when I make music that is counter that, I am painting a picture of what the Kingdom really looks like.” It’s clear from Lecrae’s tone that he’s speaking from experience—both as an artist and as a recovering misogynist.
“Son, it appears you’ve contracted a sexually transmitted disease,” a doctor said matter-of-factly. Lecrae was in high school, and he had contracted Chlamydia from some girl at an amusement park in Texas. About a decade earlier, when Lecrae was 6 years old, his 17-year-old babysitter called him into her bedroom and stripped him— physically of his clothes, and permanently of his innocence. He was not altogether sure what happened, he says. But whatever it was, he found something he could do to evoke praise, affirmation and acceptance from someone. After the next few times, he was sure something was off with his babysitter’s
even dressed like him. And so when he did find a friend with similar interests, it wasn’t long before he fell back into the habits of Skyline Hills—weed, theft, alcohol. In a Dallas suburb, far from the familiar and right in the middle of teenage angst, Lecrae found another new identity—a new father figure—in sex. He gave himself to just about any girl who would have him— occasionally with more than one person at the same time. They served the same purpose as pot or drinking—Lecrae just wanted to feel accepted. He used women for pleasure, but they ended up bringing disease. In the world of sexually transmitted diseases, Chlamydia is manageable. After a round of antibiotics, the symptoms went away—but the incident started opening Lecrae’s eyes to the real-world consequences of his lifestyle.
“Please forgive me, God. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I’m so sorry,” Lecrae prayed.
“WHEN YOU KNOW THE NUANCES AND THE DEPTH OF IT AND YOU HAVE THE ROBUST UNDERSTANDING OF FAITH AND ART, YOU CAN’T PERPETUATE SOMETHING THAT’S NOT TRUE.” new game. But even after his mom put a stop to it, the damage was already done. His babysitter inadvertently but irrevocably taught Lecrae that women would affirm him if he touched them a certain way. And as a kid looking for affection, he’d take affirmation where he could get it. One time, even, after his teacher cheered him on in a race, 8-year-old Lecrae buried his face into her crotch. She assumed it was an accident, but Lecrae says he was just doing what he thought she expected. And this assumption followed him to Texas. Lecrae and his mom moved back to the Lone Star State when his new stepdad took a job that led them away from Denver to Dallas—to a neighborhood more suburban and more white than anywhere he’d been. Lecrae always wanted to get out of Colorado, he says, so he was excited. But when he actually arrived at his new home, he found himself in a place where no one looked like him. No one talked like he did or
He was 19 and in Atlanta, Georgia—a place he calls the “black Mecca”—at a Christian conference. After he graduated high school, Lecrae enrolled in the University of North Texas on a full-ride drama scholarship. But like just about everywhere he had been, Lecrae didn’t feel like he fit in. In class and rehearsals, Lecrae liked the drama kids. But outside of class, he wouldn’t let anyone see him with them. And like before, he looked for comfort in women, drugs and alcohol. One group on campus did accept him: a ministry of black Christian students called Move. For reasons he can’t really explain, Lecrae enjoyed them. He knew enough from his grandmother in San Diego to not cuss and avoid drinking around them. One of the leaders of the group took an interest in Lecrae. He told Lecrae about an event coming up that would be perfect for him. It was called Impact Conference in Atlanta. Lecrae says he didn’t need to hear
anything other than “Atlanta.” Lecrae got there by raising money with the Christian kids—to his own then-shame, he even participated in the group carwash—and then he bussed over with them. He liked the conference and the city. On the final night, though, everything changed. James White, a pastor from Memphis, Tennessee, preached—and what he said was unlike anything Lecrae had ever heard. Looking back, Lecrae describes the preacher’s portrait of Jesus’ death as almost cinematic. Most of White’s sermon was entirely new information to Lecrae. Sure, he knew Jesus was crucified, but he didn’t know the details. He didn’t know Jesus endured horror-film-worthy beatings or the unimaginable cat o’ nine tails. He’d heard the word “crucify” before, but he didn’t really know what it meant. He says it was like he got hit by a train. “I got radically, radically saved,” he says. “You know, the truth of Jesus that I had been hearing really permeated my heart, and then it was a wrap.” Everything changed for Lecrae that night. But life as a Christian wasn’t the fixall he expected.
“I’m about to kill somebody or kill myself. Y’all better do something,” Lecrae shouted. He was standing in an emergency room, shouting that his whole being was in a state of emergency. In one night, all of his father-replacers collided. He was at a party, drunk, high, flirting with girls. Things escalated, and before he knew it, Lecrae was flying down a highway to get the gun from his mom’s house, intent on settling a dispute about a girl out of court. But he pulled into the county hospital for a reason he can’t quite explain. This landed him in rehab. His newfound Christian life had started out great. For the most part, he arrived back from the conference in Atlanta too busy sharing his faith—which often meant bullying people into taking a tract from him—or attending “praise parties” even to think about his old life. Then he turned 21. On his birthday, he remembers thinking, ‘So, I’m not supposed to drink? But I can legally drink? How does this work?!’” That ended with, “Nah, I’m not doing it,” he says, talking about the Christian
lifestyle. It wasn’t too long before he met other students who were willing to bend the church-crowd norms. One of the girls reacquainted him with his old habits. And before he knew it, Lecrae was in bed with her—returning to the familiar fathers of sex and dope. He continued attending church functions and trying to believe in God, but more and more, Lecrae was torn between his new life as a church kid and the way he lived before. For all he had learned about life, one thing he hadn’t: he assumed that his mass consumption of weed made him sterile. Needless to say, it didn’t, and before long, one of his girlfriends pulled him aside and told him she was pregnant. It took some convincing, but eventually, he persuaded her to end the pregnancy. A few hours, some borrowed money and a silent car ride later, a nurse rolled her outside in a wheelchair. And when this girl’s depression worsened, Lecrae went ahead and cut ties—he told her they should both work on getting right with God. But no matter what he told her, he couldn’t cope with the abortion. He started using ecstasy and cocaine, diving into harder drugs to mask his own depression. That night in the ER, Lecrae’s warning that he could kill himself was more than just words in the moment. He tried to commit
of Romans) and frantically taking notes. With no distractions around—no sex, no drugs, no music—Lecrae was discovering the Gospel he already believed. He was discovering that following Jesus isn’t a moment at a conference. “It was like a blindfold fell off my eyes,” he says.
Lecrae is the only “Christian hip-hop artist” to have breakout mainstream success. Check out the key albums that got him there: GRAVITY
After graduating college, Lecrae ended up turning his music pastime into a side project. After a friend pushed him to record some of the raps he’d written, he went public with his first album attempt. One of the tracks, “Crossover,” attracted a lot of local attention and gave his friend Ben Washer an idea for something bigger. Together, they started Reach Records. Just like that, Lecrae’s side project turned into a career. All of Lecrae—his addict father, the babysitter, Skyline Hills, the Atlanta conference, the clinic and rehab—finds expression in his music. He’s not afraid to be honest. “You know, honestly, that’s the essence of my faith, like, ‘Yeah, I suck. And I need a savior. So let me tell you about how I suck, because I’m not scared,’” he explains. “Maybe some other people have done that or experienced something traumatic and this is helpful to them,” he continues. “And I’m healed from it, so I can talk about
“HONESTLY, THAT’S THE ESSENCE OF MY FAITH, LIKE, ‘YEAH, I SUCK. AND I NEED A SAVIOR. SO LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HOW I SUCK, BECAUSE I’M NOT SCARED.’” suicide once before, back in high school, but after the abortion, he really hit rock bottom. His seemingly failed faith mixed with drugs and unbearable guilt and overwhelmed him. So he “drank all the alcohol I could hold and took all the pills in my cabinet.” He closed his eyes and hoped to die. Now, he says he’s surprised he woke up. And this happened just weeks before his turn into the ER that led to his rehab stint. For a week, other than a few group sessions and a visit or two from his mom, he basically sat in solitary confinement. He says this time was far more than a detox from substances. In the hours by himself, he sat reading a Bible (mostly the book
THE ESSENTIAL LECRAE
it. You know, healed people heal people; hurt people hurt people. So let me help heal some people.”
Lecrae finally found a present father. And, yes, he’s healed now. But his life isn’t one of those church service testimonies that ends with Jesus making everybody smile. The struggle of his life—the all-consuming desire for acceptance—still haunts him. Tangibly, Lecrae is now a father who was never fathered. And every day, he says, he has to fight his inclination to parent like the men of inner-city Denver or Skyline Hills.
Lecrae’s 2012 album won him a Grammy for Best Gospel Album and hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200.
On the two volumes of his mixtapes, Lecrae collaborated with artists like B.o.B and No Malice.
Lecrae’s latest debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and got two Grammy nominations.
“I don’t know what I’m missing or what I’m leaving out,” he says. “On a good day, I’m just thankful that I get to be involved. On a bad day, I don’t know what I’m doing— all I know is what books say.” The life of a high-profile artist doesn’t fix things either. He’s been on Fallon, Good Morning America, MTV, profiled in TIME magazine and so much more. But even with 10,000 adoring fans at a show, he says the two people who might have trashed him on Twitter that day will be what dominates his thoughts. “Because of my background, success is a deadly viper that should be handled with care,” he says. Despite achieving more than most artists could ever imagine, Lecrae still battles the desire for acceptance. “Sometimes every day.”
A ARON CLINE HANBURY is the editorial director of RELEVANT magazine. Find him on Twitter @achanbury.
merica’s problem with race has deep roots, with the country’s foundation tied to the near extermination of one race of people and the enslavement of another. Racism is truly our nation’s original sin. In America’s Original Sin, Wallis offers a prophetic and deeply personal call to action in overcoming the racism so ingrained in American society. He speaks candidly to Christians—particularly white Christians—urging them to cross a new bridge toward racial justice and healing.
“In this powerful book, [Wallis] calls for a new conversation and action on the ground—in our homes, churches, sports, and schools—in order to be true to the best of who we are!” —DR"#CORNEL#WEST “A thoughtful, heartfelt, compassionate plea for us to heal the wounds of racial injustice and build a new America, and a new world, together.” —SHANE#CLAIBORNE “A tough love letter to America, demanding and daring the church not only to repent of the ‘original sin’ of racism but also to join the fight against all forms of racial injustice.” —REV"#DR"#OTIS#MOSS#III
Visit WWW"AMERICASORIGINALSIN"COM for more information. JIM#WALLIS is president and founder of Sojourners and editor in chief of Sojourners magazine. He is a bestselling author, public theologian, national preacher, social activist, and international commentator on ethics and public life.
THE 5 THINGS MARRIED COUPLE S S H O U L D D O E V E R Y D AY B Y D E B R A F I L E TA
T H E Y S AY Y O U N E E D TO I N V EST I N YOU R M A R R I AGE . BU T W H AT D O E S T H AT EV EN MEA N?
you’re married, it’s likely you’ve had at least one person tell you about the importance of “investing in your marriage.” It seems people are constantly telling young couples to “invest” in their marriage, but never quite explaining what on earth that actually means. While it sounds like a noble idea, the concept of “investing in your marriage” can seem so far away for many couples— particularly during the first decade of marriage. In the first few years of marriage, most couples are worn out from work, social obligations, raising young children (or trying), sleep deprivation and financial stresses. It’s hard to figure out how to find the time or energy to “invest” in one more thing. As a counselor, I know that offering blanket statements like telling people to “invest” in their marriage can often discourage more than encourage. So, in a practical sense, what does it actually mean to invest in your marriage when life is crazy and beyond? Here are a few bitesized things to consider doing on a daily or weekly basis to invest in your marriage:
CONNECT SPIRITUALLY One of the most beautiful aspects of marriage comes with the opportunity to emotionally and spiritually connect with another human being. Even more than that, the gift of Christian marriage gives us an opportunity to connect, not only with one another, but with a holy and almighty God. Often, believing couples tend to take spiritual connection for granted, forgetting that some of the most intimate moments in marriage are when we’re sharing our hearts, communicating what’s in our spirit, and interacting about our
relationship with God. I can honestly say some of the most intimate times I spend with my husband are the moments we sit, hand in hand, at the end of the day and just pray about whatever is going on in our lives. It’s a simple act, yet it has a supernatural outcome. If you’re looking for a really powerful way of investing in your marriage, consider setting some time aside weekly or even daily to pray together and share about what God is doing in each of your lives.
COMMUNICATE MEANINGFULLY Believe it or not, studies show that the average married couple spends just four minutes a day in active and meaningful communication. And communication gets less and less with each year of marriage. In a poll of 100 marital counselors, the website YourTango.com found that problems with communication were the most common reasons couples split up. When it comes to communicating, it’s important to realize that there are levels of conversation. Facts are the most superficial level, followed by opinions and ideas, followed by the deepest level of sharing our feelings and emotions with one another. The deeper levels of communication can be uncomfortable for some people, depending on how they were raised or the kind of communication they’ve grown accustomed to. But the truth is, each level of communication is important and has to be deliberately worked into conversation. If you want to do something small that will have a big impact on your marriage, set aside 10-20 minutes a day sitting face to face with your spouse for the sole purpose of communicating. Don’t let this be the time to discuss problems, but just a time to catch up with one another. Consider asking open-ended questions like: “What was the best part of your day today?” or “What’s something I can do to help you out this week?” The goal of this time is to simply enjoy and encourage each other.
to apply it in the context of our marriages. Because let’s be honest, it’s a hard task. The idea of being vulnerable and sharing your weaknesses and shortcomings with another person can be a really hard pill to swallow, which is precisely why God calls us to do it. The practice of letting down our pride in the act of confession opens the door for the opportunity to forgive, which is the sacred glue that holds marriages together. The couples I see in my counseling practice who are highly satisfied in marriage are not the ones who have the least amount of disagreement, but the ones who have the most forgiveness. Invest in your marriage by taking the time to search your heart frequently, being honest with your spouse about the things you are longing to change and the areas where you need to ask for forgiveness.
‘GET AWAY’ WEEKLY
HIGHLY SATISFIED COUPLES ARE NOT THE ONES WHO HAVE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF DISAGREEMENT, BUT THE ONES WHO HAVE THE MOST FORGIVENESS. TOUCH OFTEN Before my husband and I had kids, I remember observing a couple we were friends with who had young children. Between feeding their kids at meal times and keeping them entertained and occupied, I noticed that the couple hardly ever had any physical contact with each other. No hand-holding. No snuggling on the couch. No arms around the shoulders. Fast-forward a few years and a few kids later, and I totally understand the struggle of trying to connect physically with your spouse, all while being pulled in a million different directions. But the truth is, even during seasons of life when it’s hard to
come by, physical touch is such an important part of investing in your marriage. Take inventory of your marriage, and find times (or even schedule times if you have to!) where you can be deliberate about holding hands, making love or even doing things as simple as touching your spouse’s back as you pass them in the kitchen. Physical touch conveys to your spouse that you notice them, desire them and want to be near them. Talk about a great investment!
CONFESS AND FORGIVE As much as we talk about confession and forgiveness within the Church, we often fail
They say that couples who “pray together stay together.” But I think it can also be said that couples who play together have the most fun. Life can get busy, and the stress of it all can make us lose sight of the fact that God wants us to enjoy one another and the life He’s given us. Invest in your marriage by setting aside time to go out once a week (or stay in if you’re on a strict budget or can’t afford a weekly sitter) and do something fun. Play a board game on the living room floor, go out for a fun dinner, take a hike, pack a picnic lunch or go on a scenic drive. The possibilities are endless, and what you’re doing matters so much less than who you’re doing it with. Rekindle your love for one another by rekindling your friendship. Investing in your marriage often means doing small things deliberately that will ultimately have a huge impact. Whether you’ve been married for 5 days or 50 years, it’s never too early or too late to start making a difference in your marriage. DEBR A FILETA is a counselor specializing in relationship issues. She’s the author of True Love Dates. Find her online at truelovedates.com
BY T YLER HUCK ABEE
T H E BLU E L I K E JA Z Z W R ITER H AS M A DE A CA R EER OU T OF B E I N G C A N D I D. B U T N O W T H AT HE’S DROPPED HIS YOU T H F U L A NGST AND SET TLED D O W N , W H AT D O E S THE FU T UR E LOOK L I K E ? W E S AT DOW N W I T H DON AND HIS WIFE, B E T S Y, T O S E E .
BY T YLER HUCK ABEE
or Christians of a certain age, Donald Miller is a household name. He’s an A-list celebrity, one of the three people, dead or alive, you’d want to have a cup of coffee with. In the early ’00s, millennials were in full swing of the postmodern mindset, but millions of them were still grappling with a faith that seemed firmly rooted in language and constructs from a different generation. It was into this mindset that Donald Miller published Blue Like Jazz. It was a simple memoir, but for its legions of fans, it served as a guide to a fresh way of thinking and talking about faith. Perhaps, more than anything else, Blue Like Jazz was permission. “It’s OK to think these things,” Don seemed to be saying. Part of the reason Blue Like Jazz worked so well was because it never felt like its author was coming from a place of writerly omniscience. Don spoke candidly, but humbly. One of the few things he seemed
who they are. And hopefully, me and Anne Lamott and a score of other writers were able to influence that conversation. “You know,” he says, laughing a little. “I had a good 10- to 15-year run as a Christian memoirist. It was a blast. But eventually, you just run out of things to say.”
SETTLING DOWN Don and Betsy, his wife of two years, live about 3 miles outside of downtown Nashville, but it feels like another world. Downtown Nashville—called “NashVegas” by the locals—is all neon lights and old cowboys slurring Hank Williams covers. But the Millers are tucked away at the base of a valley with vaulting green hills climbing on all sides. “You stand out there and look off to the distance, it’s like you’re in the Blue Ridge Mountains,” Don says, waving his hand toward the backyard. They’ve got plans for this backyard. Dreams. Maybe a garden. Maybe a retreat center. Maybe even a restaurant.
“WHAT I LIKE ABOUT CHANGING THE WORLD—IF I’M REALLY HONEST WITH MYSELF—IS IT’S FUN.” absolutely confident in was that he was just as messed up as his readers. It was refreshing and, to hear Don tell it, not an act. He was unsure. He wasn’t entirely healthy. Now, more than a decade after the book first released, Don has that same sense of humble vulnerability, but he’s more sure of himself. He’s confident. He’s married and settled. He’s doing business consulting with some of the world’s most influential companies. He’s excited about what’s next. Time has given him some perspective on the scope and influence of his best-seller. “Blue Like Jazz was the beginning of a diversification of ideas in the Church and an acceptance of a lot more,” he says. “I don’t think we’re a less judgmental place, but people are being more open about
But for now, it’s just a frisbee golf course, with a small, cozy “writing shed” where Don can crank out his books and dream about StoryBrand, his branding company. For a generation who grew up knowing Donald Miller as a memoirist, getting to know him as a business consultant might seem like a stretch. But for him, it’s a perfect fit. “I get to talk about business, which I love,” he says. “I get to talk about messaging, which I love, and I get to talk about story, which I love.” We’re sitting on the back porch. Don’s reclining on his couch, scratching the ears of a big black dog named Lucy. Betsy sits across from him, her legs curled under her like a cat. It’s a fall afternoon that can only
be described as perfect. But it took a lot to get there.
GAME ON When Don and Betsy met for the first time, she was working at a bed and breakfast. She had a picture on her desk of her standing next to a strapping young member of the U.S. Air Force. Don figured he couldn’t compete with that, so he didn’t bother to pursue. The picture was of her brother. Over the next four years, that misconception got cleared up, but other details complicated a clear attraction. Don was living in Portland, Oregon. Betsy was in Washington, D.C. He was involved in various relationships of varying degrees of viability (“I remember not getting into a relationship because [the girl] didn’t like Arrested Development,” he says). She spent most of the time in an on-and-off relationship with one person. They would see each other occasionally, but neither was ever quite ready to pull the trigger.
“It was really brave,” she says. “I was just surprised at how it made me feel. Then I went home and was telling my roommates how I felt weirdly flattered by this and filled up by it in some way. And they were like ‘Yeah, that’s because the other one’s not going anywhere, and this really might.’” So she sent Don a text. Neither of them can quite remember what it said, but, Don says, “It might as well have said ‘game on.’”
QUANTITY TIME Of course, there’s a big difference between landing the first date and proposing. When asked if they knew right away that their relationship was meant to be, Don immediately says, “I knew.” At the exact same time, Betsy says, “No.” “It was such a massive difference between her and all the other relationships,” Don says. “The other relationships just didn’t feel right—there was tension or I was unhealthy. So I knew early on, but it wasn’t sort of a frantic, panicky kind of
“I THINK IF YOU KNOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, THERE’S A RESPONSIBILITY TO DO SO. THE STAKES ARE HIGH. IT’S LIFE OR DEATH FOR A LOT OF FOLKS.” “It was always slightly flirtatious emails or friendly banter,” Betsy says. “But there was never anything that would allow me to say ‘Yeah, I’m interested.’ I kind of was waiting for that.” “We would just contact each other once a year,” Don says, “but we dated other people the whole time. Finally, after I did some work on myself, I was better and more compatible in a healthy relationship. I ran into her again in D.C. and she explained the relationship she was in. It was fine, but it just didn’t seem to be going anywhere, and I was like, ‘If I were in a relationship with you, it would be going somewhere.’” If that sounds like a boss move, his next play was a master stroke. “So I actually gave her 30 days to break up with the guy.” They both insist this was not quite the ultimatum it sounds like. In Don’s words, it was more him saying, “I think we could go somewhere. If I call you in 30 days and you’re out of [this relationship], I’d love to take you out.” But Betsy took it to heart.
thing for me. I also knew that if it didn’t work, I was going to be perfectly happy.” This was a big change from the way Don had viewed relationships in the past. Before, he says, he worried that if a relationship fell apart, he would be miserable. But when things started with Betsy, he already had plans to start a company in Nashville. He knew he would be fine. “This time, I had grown up,” he says. Betsy shared Don’s confidence in her own emotional stability, but getting confident in the relationship took some time. “In my other relationships, there would be a lot of ‘I’m really excited about this! Let’s make it happen!’ and then it would wane out over time. I was just nervous and kept telling him about quantity time.” That’s a phrase Betsy uses a lot: quantity time. She knew Don was good in short bursts: dates and drinks. But, she says, “I needed to know that over the long haul, this was going to feel like something.” It must have felt like something. Don left Portland for Nashville, but he stopped and
spent eight months in Washington, D.C. on the way, moving into an apartment five streets away from Betsy. “When he met my parents for the first time, they were like, ‘Why aren’t you moving this along faster?’” Betsy says. But she got her quantity time. And he bought a ring.
CHANGING THE WORLD Don says he doesn’t pay much attention to his legacy. Betsy isn’t so sure. “You talk about changing the world a lot,” she says. “But I don’t want my name on the building,” he says. “Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I don’t think I care whether or not anybody reads my books.” Betsy just smiles. “You do care.” It’s an interesting conversation to sit in on. Don is part of a generation of Christians who grew up hearing that world-change was their obligation, if not their divine right. Crack open any Teen Study Bible from the ’90s, and you’ll find 50 pop-out sections giving you instructions on how to turn the world on its head for Jesus. The thing is, most people grow out of that. You go to college and your degree ends up not being in changing the world, but in finance or business or art. You get married. You take a few normal jobs. It’s not necessarily bad. But it’s not quite the picture your youth pastor painted for you. Don did all that—college, marriage. But changing the world is still very much a driving desire. “Ten years from now, if I can’t point to a statistical change in our culture that I’m responsible for, that would break my heart,” he says. “I don’t have the same drive to change the world,” Betsy says. “But I want to be part of it. I’m a great advocate. I’m great at pushing forward things around me that I think are really good. So that was always what I was looking for in a relationship. I don’t know that I would have said that’s what I was signing up for, but definitely, that’s what I wanted.” “I think it just depends on how people are wired,” Don says. “What I like about changing the world—if I’m really honest with myself—is it’s fun. We were just with Scott Harrison at charity: water and the global water crisis has been cut in half in the last 15 years. Global poverty has
Betsy and Don at their wedding in 2013.
dramatically decreased based on some U.N. initiatives they set in place. Scott knew he could change the world. I think if you know you can make a difference, there’s a responsibility to do so. The stakes are high. It’s life or death for a lot of folks.” So does Don feel like he’s changed the world at all yet? “I don’t know,” he says, then laughs. “I think the evangelical church has a better relationship with alcohol in some way because of me.”
BUILDING TOGETHER Don walks around the basement of his most recent purchase—the house next door to his own. The former owners were planning to tear it down, so he bought it for a bargain and transformed it into new offices for StoryBrand. “When we first came down here, it looked like a murder scene,” he says, chuckling. That’s hard to believe. It’s a pretty sharp place now—all new furniture, bookshelves
lined with books and whiteboards scribbled full of ideas. “We wanted to create a place that was restorative and restful for people,” Betsy says. “So we do that together. And then I also have other projects I do apart from StoryBrand. I think it’s really not as much about working separately or working together, but a little bit of both.” The vision is to have a bed and breakfast, and in some ways, they already have one. Don estimates they’ve had around 200 overnight guests since they got married. “We practice hospitality here,” he says. They also started a scholarship fund at a local university to help underserved kids go to college. In May, they’ll hold a fundraiser in their backyard. “There are things apart from my work and my writing that I am very excited about,” Don says. “Just what Betsy and I are doing. I think a lot of people don’t have a vision for what their marriage can create, so they don’t bond with their spouse
because they aren’t working together on something else. I am hooked on this idea that Betsy and I are building something.” That together part is only two years old, remember. But by all accounts, it’s been a very solid two years. “We were always wondering when we were going to figure out it’s a pipe dream,” Don says. “I expected there to be tension and sort of withdrawal from all the freedom I had as a bachelor, but I didn’t experience any of that.” “I was kind of waiting at the threemonth mark,” Betsy says. “I was thinking, ‘OK, this is when the shoe’s gonna drop.’ And then a friend of mine finally said, ‘I’ve been married for nine years and the shoe never dropped.’ And I was like, ‘Maybe this is what it’s gonna be like. Maybe we’ll actually just have fun together.’” T YLER HUCK ABEE lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is RELEVANT’s editor-at-large. Check out his work at tylerhuckabee.com.
anghorne lim THE FOLK SINGER ON GETTING SOBER AND FINDING HOME
B Y DA R G A N T H O M P S O N
wo years ago, on his 33rd birthday, Langhorne Slim decided to get sober. He had struggled with drugs and alcohol since he was a teenager, but he realized it wasn’t just bad for his health, but also for his music. “I had created a certain type of environment for myself, which was fueled by alcohol and drugs for many, many years,” he explains. “A regular ritual would be
for me to drink and then get a guitar or sit down at the piano. I don’t know that that pushed out any more music. In fact, I think I pushed out less music.” Slim describes the process of going sober as “terrifying.” He wasn’t sure he would be the same person—or the same musician— without a bottle of alcohol by his side. But he found it was actually empowering. “I had a lot more energy,” he says. “When you’re able to keep going without a crutch, it makes you feel a lot stronger. It’s not something you even needed for that long.”
SLIMMING DOWN Langhorne Slim (otherwise known as Sean Scolnick) has been an important part of the folk-rock scene for more than a decade. He was mixing banjos and big, foot-stomping choruses well before Mumford & Sons brought them into the mainstream. Along with his backing band, The Law, Slim has hit all the major milestones of musical success. He’s toured with the likes of The Avett Brothers, Josh Ritter and The Lumineers. His songs have found homes on soundtracks and corporate advertisements.
L-R: Langhorne Slim & The Law: David Moore, Sean Scolnick, Malachi DeLorenzo, Jeff Ratner
THE SPIRIT MOVES
Critics have hailed Langhorne Slim’s fifth release as his most reflective yet.
He’s done the late-night rounds. (In fact, Conan O’Brien confessed to being an “instant, almost obsessive fan” and even performed as a surprise guest at one of Slim’s shows in Hollywood.) A Guardian reviewer called Langhorne Slim “one of the greatest live acts I’ve ever seen.” And Rolling Stone said his 2012 release, The Way We Move, was “near perfect.” But Slim’s fifth album, The Spirit Moves, has been hailed by critics as his most reflective yet. Sobriety hasn’t changed the essence of his sound, but it has made his lyrics all the more powerful. Slim insists that he isn’t trying to convey a particular message through the album, he’s just trying “to be open to all the experiences that I have in life and propel them musically in a deeply felt form.” Along with songs about love and loss, The Spirit Moves addresses the idea that showing vulnerability can actually be incredibly brave. “I know some people who are so smart/Yet they build pillars around their hearts” Slim sings on “Wolves.” He follows this up with the chorus: “I’m tough enough to run with the boys/Yet I’m too gentle to live amongst wolves.” To Slim, honesty and vulnerability are keys to songwriting. Growing up in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, he listened to Nirvana, Bob Dylan and Otis Redding, and then dove deeper into various musical genres. “All those forms of music kind of hit me in a similar place: raw and dirty and real in a way I connect to,” he says. The power of great music and art, he says, is that even as an artist shares something deeply personal, they reveal feelings and experiences we all have in common. “That’s why I think we’re so drawn to beautiful art and music,” he says. “We can find ourselves in all of these various mediums. I’m just trying to dig deep and be there for my own personal expression of creativity. But I certainly think my
experience isn’t deeply different to yours or anyone else’s.”
A TRANSIENT PERSON Though his stage name is attached to a place, Langhorne Slim himself admits that for a long time, he never felt fully at home anywhere. “I felt very much like an outsider growing up in Pennsylvania,” he recalls. “I always felt like I would feel a bit more comfortable or hit my stride when I was older.”
me, ‘Go where the love is, kid.’ I’ve since discovered that when you get there, you’re home.” The move also brought the opportunity to record at The Bomb Shelter with Andrija Tokic, who has produced the likes of Alabama Shakes and Hurray for the Riff Raff. Slim co-produced The Spirit Moves himself. He did his best to follow his creative muses while writing and recording, he says, but the creative process behind the
“THAT’S WHY I THINK WE’RE SO DRAWN TO BEAUTIFUL ART. WE CAN FIND OURSELVES IN ALL OF THESE VARIOUS MEDIUMS.” At 18, Slim left home to attend music school. After graduation, he moved to Brooklyn, hoping to make it big. “I’ve always wanted people to know the songs I wrote and for them to sing with me,” he says. “Not everybody that paints a painting or writes a song wants a bunch of people to know about it, but I’ve always had that sort of sickness.” That drive led him to be a “transient person” who visited plenty of cities on tour, but never settled anywhere. He spent time living in Northern California and Portland, Oregon. Then, a visit to Nashville prompted yet another move. But this time, it felt different. “So much of life, I suppose, is timing—with relationships, with places and people and things,” he reflects. “It was a great time for me to come here. It kind of struck me as ‘This must be the place for me when I’m off the road.’” He ended up buying a “magical,” bright pink house in East Nashville. Finally, he had a place that felt like home. “I’ve spent most of my money ... and a few folks have even advised me to paint it,” he wrote in a post on his website, “but I kept dreaming the dream, and now I’m living in it. As Kenny Siegal once told
album is hard to put into words. “There’s more truths in the unsayable than there are in [definitions],” he says. “I suppose the spirit would be the thing that moves one, so it’s difficult to put that into words.”
THE SEARCH CONTINUES Two years sober and more settled than ever before, Slim sounds content. He’s tamed his demons and found out he’s stronger than he knew. But he and his band are not ready to stop yet. “The main success with this record and the records going forward is that they’re real to us,” he says. “They are true extensions of ourselves and our souls. I continue to get into that deeper each and every time. That’s what keeps me going. I’m never satisfied. I feel like there’s gotta be more. “Nothing exteriorly can solve any man or woman’s quest for anything greater. It really has to come from within, some kind of artwork or music. The greatest thing any of us can do is to be real and true and please ourselves, and then hopefully people connect to it.” DARGAN THOMPSON is RELEVANT’s associate editor. Find her on Twitter @darganthompson.
B Y S C O T M C K N IG H T
C H R I S T I A N S FA L L I N T O T W O C A M P S W H E N I T C O M E S T O H E AV E N : T H E Y ’ R E E I T H E R F O C U S E D M O R E O N T H E H E R E -A N D - N O W O R O N T H E A F T E R L I F E — R A R E LY B O T H . W E A S K E D T H EOLOGI A N SCOT MCK N IGH T A BOU T T H E R IGH T A PPROACH TO T H E E V ER A F T ER .
ometimes, it seems like two sides cheering in a gym. One group yells out, “More heaven!” and fans of that team repeat the cheer. The other group yells, “More life now!” and like-minded fans declare the same. Gary Scott Smith, in his book Heaven in the American Imagination, sides more with the first group. He wrote, “If an afterlife exists, worldliness is escapism.” I heard a preference for escapism in my childhood Christianity whenever we sang Jim Reeves’ famous song, “This world is not my home / I’m just a-passing through.” The other side has its own notable list of fans, including the well-known theologian-pastor of Manhattan’s Riverside Church, Harry Emerson Fosdick. He once said, “Our mission is not to get men to heaven” but “to bring heaven to earth.” Charles Reynolds Brown, former Dean at Yale Divinity School, dressed up Fosdick’s statement with concrete realities: “The true mark of a saved man is not that he wants to go to heaven” but instead
“that he is willing to go to China, or to the battlefield of France, or to the slums of a great city so he can participate in building the Kingdom of God on earth.” Some on the second side make the rather audacious claim that those who spend their time thinking about a far-off heaven will fail to engage culture and the world already near to them. But those who make this claim know nothing of the facts. C.S. Lewis once said, “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” Those with enough sense to watch what
there is no reason why we can’t live for now in light of the afterlife. People who are living in view of heaven ought to be the most zealous about care for creation, love of others, peacemaking and social justice. “Heaven people,” as I call them, have tasted the grandeur of heaven, and therefore, they long for it to begin now on earth. And these same people can also be those who long for the fullness of God’s presence and the perfection of God’s people in the new heavens and the new earth. So how then should we live now? Let’s get one thing clear first: to be heaven people, we don’t need to be heroes.
WE DON’T NEED TO BE HEROES. HEAVEN PEOPLE LIVE ORDINARY LIVES IN ORDINARY PLACES WITH ORDINARY FAMILIES. THEY WORK AT ORDINARY VOCATIONS. is happening in the noisy, cheer-filled gym need to ask for a moment of silence. Because too much focus on the future heaven or on life in the here-and-now misses the teachings of the Bible. Really,
Heaven people live ordinary lives in ordinary places with ordinary families. They work at ordinary vocations. Yes, it is true: Some people are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good. But
MCKNIGHT’S TALES Scot McKnight’s dozens of books range from Bible commentary to church history and much more. Here are a few you should know about: THE HEAVEN PROMISE
McKnight’s latest explores what the Bible has to say about the afterlife, and how the hope of heaven should impact the daily lives of all believers.
THE JESUS CREED
McKnight looks at the many implications of Jesus’ simple, yet challenging and weighty command to love God and love others.
THE BLUE PARAKEET
Christians of all denominations often try to use the Bible for their own purposes. McKnight argues that we need to rethink how to engage Scripture.
the opposite is just as often—or even far more often—the case. Certainly, the reality of eternity has a massive impact for life today. And I think there are four main ways heaven affects how we live today.
HEAVEN MEANS WE TRUST God promised heaven, and He made that promise alive and real in the resurrection of Jesus. But we are called to trust this promising God in our daily lives. We do this in how we live and how we die. Some days, we walk in a vibrant faith, and other
days (like Peter) we begin to sink into waters of doubt. Like the father who longed for his son to be healed, we may need to cry out in the presence of God: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” We are not promised that in trusting God, we will experience constant, victorious, abounding faith. What is promised—and please don’t forget this—is that God will be faithful to His heaven promise. Trusting looks different for each of us. For some, trusting will mean being faithful under pressure; for some, it will mean disciplining rough edges; for others, it will mean waiting, sometimes in pain and sometimes alone. But trusting is a genuine mark of heaven people.
HEAVEN MEANS WE IMAGINE Once we catch a glimpse of what God plans for the Kingdom, we can begin to implement that vision in the here-andnow—beginning in our churches and in our homes and in our worship. Let’s agree that imagination is a Godgiven power that we can unleash to bring heaven to earth in the here-and-now. This is where our sketch of the big ideas about heaven can both contain and excite our imagination. What will the new heavens and new earth be like? God will be all in all, Jesus will be in the center, and we will enter into an eternal utopia of joy, happiness and pleasure. Life will blow away the dust of death, and we will discover an eternal global fellowship in God’s beloved community. We imagine those sorts of things in advance of their happening by worship: making God central to life, giving Jesus the lordship and honor He deserves, pursuing happiness as God designs, facing death standing in the empty tomb and working to resolve the breakdowns of all racial, ethnic, social, cultural and sexual divisions. Heaven people focus on a society marked by love, justice, peace and wisdom. What will that look like? We know that all earthly power, no matter how good or how evil, is time-stamped for the day God will reign for forever and beyond. The day is coming when powers will surrender once and forever to the throne of God. If we’re going to be people who live in light of heaven, we will live and worship
in the now in the hope of the Lamb’s victory over sin and evil. So we imagine life with God on the throne.
HEAVEN MEANS WE PLANT AND BUILD Heaven people do not dreamily escape from this world. Instead, to each of us is given a task, a calling, a vocation—whatever it might be—and each of us is to do that task. Even as we live in hope of eternity, we have an earthly life to which we are committed, to the glory of God. Why? In the first chapter of the Bible, God interprets His own work by calling it “good.” The light was good, the land was good, the sun and the moon are good, all creatures on the land are good. And then God made a male and female in His own image. God’s own interpretation of His creation is that it is very good. In the goodness of God’s creation, we begin to see how heaven people live. Heaven people dwell in God’s good creation and are summoned by God to a task to govern this world under God for His glory. Our calling is to do well what we have been called to do, and that calling is an earthly calling (for now). Do what you are called to do, do it well, and do it with an eye on exercising your gifts forever and ever in the new heavens and new earth.
HEAVEN MEANS WE MAKE THINGS RIGHT The core of the promise of heaven is that in the new earth, God will make all things right. Each word matters: “God” will do this; “will make” is the promise; “all things” means all things—all people, all actions, all systems; and “right” means God promises that the earth in its new-creation form will run as God designed it to run. Heaven people begin to make things right, now, on earth. In heaven, God will make all things right. The God who promises us that kind of heaven is at work in us now to infect the world with making things right everywhere we go. SCOT MCKNIGHT is a professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary and writer of the popular blog Jesus Creed, hosted on Patheos. Portions of this essay are adapted from The Heaven Promise by Scot McKnight. Copyright © 2015. Used with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.
LET IT ECHO
For more than 15 years, Jesus Culture has walked the line of making worship music that is lyrically solid, singable and just really good. Their latest album is no exception. Recorded live, it’s full of the kind of thoughtful, well-crafted worship music the group has become known for, encouraging listeners to know and experience God in new ways.
Kacy Hill got her start in show biz as a backup dancer on Kanye’s Yeezus tour. But after the rapper heard Hill’s music, he signed her to his label. Listening to her debut EP, it’s easy to see why the young singer caught Kanye’s attention. Her music starts out as sparse, pretty pop and builds into a soundscape that sweeps you off your feet.
THIS IS ACTING [INERTIA]
Sia has only recently started getting the name recognition she deserves, but she’s been the best songwriter in pop music for decades, writing hits for the likes of Kanye West, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Alicia Keys and many more. The Australian singer’s latest album features songs she wrote for other performers that didn’t make the final cut on their albums. Sia’s versions are so good, you’ll be glad the songs didn’t reach their original destinations. For example, it’s hard to imagine even Adele delivering a more powerful performance of the single “Alive.”
JENNY & TYLER
CAGE THE ELEPHANT
CITY AND COLOUR
OF THIS I’M SURE
TELL ME I’M PRETTY
IF I SHOULD GO BEFORE YOU
[RC A RECORDS]
Delaware’s favorite duo returns with an improved major-label debut. The title track makes the point with a cascading effervescent chorus à la Rend Collective. On “Song for You,” the revitalization process is in full effect with vibrant percussion accents. Fans of Of Monsters and Men or The Head and The Heart will find familiar auditory pleasures.
Cage the Elephant really hit their stride with 2013’s Melophobia, and the band’s latest full-length continues in the same vein of fun, grungy rock that sticks in your head like paper mache. They’re perfecting the craft of great alt-rock, with relatable, honest lyrics and singable choruses fans of any musical genre can enjoy.
City and Colour make you think, and it all starts with the name. The subtle twists of alt-rock balladry come by way of Dallas (the city) Green (the color). On “Runaway,” his voice reverberates. “I found a permanent place where the skies are gold, not grey” he sings with a hint of Sinatra. You want to go there and hang out with him.
She’s only 19 years old, but Alessia Cara has already found her place among the greats of soul-inspired pop. And for good reason. Take, for example, “Here,” in which Cara sings about being at a party and realizing she hates parties. It’s a fun, but much more honest, reinvention of the party anthem, made perfect by Cara’s silky vocals.
MOVIES + BOOKS
[ S T X E N T E R TA I N M E N T ]
[SON Y PIC TURES]
[L I O N S G AT E]
[M AGNOLI A PIC T UR E S]
These days, it’s hard to find a first-class psychological thriller, but Joel Edgerton achieves just that in his directorial debut. With a Cape Fear-esque plot that turns the audience on its head, The Gift moves with twists and turns. Yet beneath the chills and thrills lies a pointed critique of corporate America.
Beyond just telling the true story of Philippe Petit’s illegal highwire walk between the World Trade Center towers, Zemeckis’ use of 3-D technology makes viewers feel like they are there. But anchored by a strong turn from Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the starring role, it’s also more than just a spectacle.
The setup of Sicario is familiar: an unlikely team of FBI agents are put together on a dangerous mission to kill a Mexican druglord. But in the hands of director Denis Villeneuve, this formula gets elevated into a smart, well-acted action thriller. It’s a fascinating study of ethics within modern warfare.
Locked inside their apartment for years by an abusive father, the Angulo brothers learned about the world through film. This fascinating documentary, bolstered by plenty of home-video footage, explores the power of creativity, pop culture and sibling bonds as the brothers learn to navigate the outside world.
AN OTHER KINGDOM
TO THE TABLE
THE FACE OF THE DEEP
AMERICAâ€™S ORIGINAL SIN
BRUEGGEMANN, MCKNIGHT AND BLOCK
LISA GRAHAM MCMINN
[BR A ZOS PR E SS]
[D AV I D C . C O O K ]
[BR A ZOS PR E SS]
Lisa Graham McMinn has written a delightfully earthy book that combines keen theological reflection about food and community with personal stories and recipes. To the Table emphasizes the central role food plays in our lives, and challenges us to be more attentive to how we eat.
For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is the least-known person of the trinity. With this elegant book, Paul Pastor sets out to introduce us to the mysteries of the Spirit. His vivid writing and the simple, evocative images breathe life into the third person of the trinity. Few books make knowing God more enticing.
The tragic taking of black lives in Ferguson and Charleston remind us how deep racial divides run in America. Noted activist Jim Wallis explains the problems of racism in our land, and yet he pulls no punches. He calls us to envision a new America, breaking down the barriers that keep us from diversity.
An Other Kingdom is the unique collaboration of a biblical scholar, a business consultant and a community organizer, all of whom are distinguished in their fields. The authors present an imaginative and compelling vision for culture in a postconsumer world.
RELEVANT PODCAST CHECK OUT SOME OF THE NOTABLE RECENT EPISODES OF THE RELEVANT PODCAST
Brian Houston started Hillsong Church in Australia in the mid’80s, and he has since watched it grow into a movement with locations all over the world. Houston came by the studio to chat about his new book, Live Love Lead, while on the Hillsong Worship Nights Tour. We also hear some new tracks from hip-hop artist JGivens.
A few years ago, Jefferson Bethke’s spoken word video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” went viral online, racking up tens of millions of views. Soon after, Bethke wrote his first book, and now he’s back with a second, called It’s Not What You Think. We talk to him about the book and how American Christians can portray a more accurate depiction of Jesus.
As the pastor of LifeChurch. tv—the church that launched the YouVersion Bible app—Craig Groeschel has seen the positive aspects of technology and social media. But he’s also become very aware of the potentially harmful effects of constant connectivity. We talk to him about his new book, #Struggles, and how to keep technology from taking over your life.
Jesus Culture’s Kim WalkerSmith may have the most powerful voice in worship music, and she showed it off when she came by the RELEVANT studio to sing a few tunes. Andy Squyres also came by to perform, and we talked with Johnnie Moore, a religious freedom activist and author of Defying ISIS, about the Islamic State, extremism and the Paris attacks.
RELEVANT.TV CHECK OUT THESE CURATED VIDEOS AND SHORT FILMS PLAYING NOW ON RELEVANT.TV
“ONE THING” (IN STUDIO)
“MY BELOVED” (LIVE)
JOHN MARK MCMILLAN
Hillsong Worship stopped by the studio during their worship nights tour to perform a few songs from their album Open Heaven / River Wild. This gorgeous, stripped down version of “One Thing” is especially striking. “I want nothing but to know you, and to be with you my God,” they sing. It sticks with you long after the piano chords stop reverberating.
John Mark McMillan’s Borderland was one of our favorite albums of 2014, and this live version of album favorite “Future/Past” is a great example of why it made the list. From McMillan’s new live album, this version was filmed in front of a live audience and features Kim Walker-Smith switching off with McMillan on vocals. Don’t miss it.
David Crowder’s last-nameonly reinvention is better than ever, mixing folk and electronica in a way that somehow not only works, but is also incredibly fun. In this live music video, the band features a banjo, violin and tambourines, but plays the instruments in front of flashing lights while an audience jumps to the beat. It’s a fantastic mix of new-age and old-school.
“WHAT NOBODY SHOULD KNOW” (IN STUDIO) ANDY SQUYRES If you haven’t heard of Andy Squyres yet, it’s time to get on board. He came by the RELEVANT studio to perform a few acoustic versions of songs off his new album, Cherry Blossoms, and they are heartbreakingly beautiful. “What Nobody Should Know” shows off Squyres’ powerful songwriting chops. Have some tissues handy.
JAN/FEB 2016 ISSUE 79
HOW TO MAKE A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION THAT ACTUALLY STICKS Hint: Recognize you’re not on reality TV.
WELCOME TO HOLY-WOOD High-profile churches. Celebrity-filled pews. Is LA becoming the country’s holiest city?
WAVVES The pop-punk band on their new album and revamping their creative process.
You know the chart-topping hip-hop artist is an outspoken Christian. But what you probably don’t know is the shocking story that shapes everything he does.
HOW TO BLOW UP YOUR QUARTERLIFE CRISIS Work-life guru Jon Acuff on how to move forward when your life doesn’t look like you thought it would.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER Five ways you can drop clichés and actually invest in your marriage.
LANGHORNE SLIM The folk singer is sober, settled down and making better music than ever before.
FIR ST WOR D
America’s refugee problem, how Stephen Colbert brings faith to late night, a 100% accurate preview of 2016, and more.
Should Christians focus on the afterlife or on the here-and-now? Theologian Scot McKnight says both.
78 DONALD MILLER
R E J E C T A PAT H Y
The decline of extreme poverty, the real biggest need in Africa, Christian boycotts and more.
The Wombats, Aurora, Flame, Gems, John Mark McMillan and more. 38
How to find meaning in your work—no matter what it is—and leadership expert John Maxwell on living out a great story.
R E L E VA N T R E C O M M E N D S
The music, movies, books and digital media you need to know about.
Published on Dec 30, 2015