I’ve written this countless times, but I love Christianity Today. One thing I love and respect about it is its honesty. If there are things the evangelical church is struggling with or doing poorly on, Christianity Today is brave enough to admit it without plunging into negativity or cynicism, still hopeful in the gospel. It’s a difficult balance, to be honest and real but undyingly believing, and I think the magazine does a good job.
I was particularly impressed by its recent cover story on how to fight poverty. The report honestly admits that governments are by far the best institutions to deal with global poverty and that the church’s efforts are relatively ineffective in comparison. I was amazed that an evangelical publication had the guts to admit that. At the same time, it doesn’t conclude that the church should therefore give up. Our call to help the poor is grounded in obedience, not simply effectiveness. Although we should focus on things that make a difference, it’s not the ultimate driver for what we do. And ultimately, we cannot realistically hope to eliminate poverty, but we persist to point to Jesus’ ultimate work. Furthermore, the church can care for the poor as individuals in ways the government cannot. The story was classic CT: brutally honest about the shortcomings of the church’s work on poverty, yet encouraging and thoughtful about why we should persist. I loved it.
It was accompanied by an analysis that ranks the effectiveness of 10 poverty-eliminating strategies, a really great practical guide. Clean water, de-worming, and mosquito nets (all efforts to eliminate disease) were deemed most effective. Fair-trade coffee and laptops for the poor were seen as least impactful.