Top 10 Faith & Leadership stories from 2019

Photo illustration by Jessamyn Rubio

We published more than 120 original stories in 2019, from articles by journalists to essays by pastors and scholars to interviews with thinkers and activists. Here are 10 standouts we hope you’ll find inspiring and thought provoking.

We don’t lack for story ideas at Faith & Leadership. It can be a challenge to sift through the many possibilities and decide which to pursue and share with you every two weeks. Whittling down the ones we do publish to just 10 standouts for the year is an even bigger challenge.

But we have tried with this list.

These stories and essays range from the analysis of a significant report about churches and money to a collection of essays about a highly regarded theologian to the story of a church helping students escape the stranglehold of college debt. They’re drawn from around the country and feature the voices of a diverse array of contributors.

We hope that these resources, along with all the content we offer, will support and inspire Christian institutions, congregations and pastors to be vital contributers to thriving communities.

As part of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., and with support from the Issachar Fund for specific projects, we contribute through this work to the community conversation among writers, artists, theologians, clergy, laity and academics who pursue ministry in its many forms.

In 2020, we’ll continue to offer a rich variety of storytelling and resources. We hope you will continue to visit our site to see what we have to offer.

But first, a look back at 2019.


group photo

A campus ministry on the U.S.-Mexico border trains young Christians to lead

Life on the border is difficult. But the Baptist Student Ministry of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is working to help young adults who live there leverage their own strength and resilience to step out as leaders of the Valley and the nation.

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Afraid to preach and teach about money in your congregation? Don’t be.

Breaking the taboo about money talk can be fruitful for congregations, a study shows. The more congregations talk about money, the more likely they are to see a corresponding increase in giving, according to the National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices.

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Bonhoeffer

Why is Dietrich Bonhoeffer relevant today?

German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been claimed by Christians across the theological spectrum. What makes Bonhoeffer such a powerful voice for American Christians? In these short essays, five theologians considered Bonhoeffer’s message for Christians today.

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A church helps pay the debts of Howard University seniors and sustain a historic connection to HBCUs

Alfred Street Baptist Church has a long history of supporting college students and historically black colleges and universities. So when a churchwide fast last January yielded $150,000, they knew where to invest it: in future leaders.

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A pastor’s message for Advent in sanctuary

Before Christmas, a pastor in long-term sanctuary reflected on waiting, faith and family.

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support group

Dementia ministry in Georgia serves as a model for churches to care for the caregivers

What started with a simple support group has grown to include online resources and gatherings that pursue its twofold mission: to help caregivers and to educate faith and community leaders. It’s part of a growing trend of congregations supporting the “invisible second patients” of dementia.

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Sharing a building leads to a shared mission for an AME church and a Latino congregation

Two pastors built a friendship across barriers of language and culture, uniting their congregations and together reaching out to their community.

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community leaders joining hands

Melissa Florer-Bixler: Capitalism is killing the small church

Small churches struggle to attract and keep congregants, but the issue is not a lack of programs or a younger generation’s disinterest in faith. The problem is that people are exhausted by our economy, wrote a pastor.

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A church and community partnership helps bring fresh groceries to a Chicago food desert

The opening of a Whole Foods in the Englewood neighborhood was the culmination of a congregation’s multilayered efforts to respond to community needs. Top among them: fresh, healthy food.

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Arionne Yvette Williams: It’s not the church’s job to decide who belongs

When churches hold on to anti-LGBTQ beliefs, there are real people whose sacred stories and journeys are being forgotten, wrote a college chaplain and author.

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