Passing the Torch: Who will lead the evangelicals?

During the last 50 years, neo-evangelicals have sought to break free from fundamentalist isolation and to give Christian orthodoxy a stronger voice than theological liberalism. They have gone far in achieving these goals, while also leaving the scars of the scorched earth strategy of the culture wars. A new generation of evangelicals will require the hand of God’s blessing to demonstrate the great wisdom, strength and grace that will needed to navigate current challenges and to be prepared to address the issues and crises that few of us can foresee or imagine. There are at least ten major opportunities for young leaders:

We already know that there are many bright young leaders who can critique the church and analyze the actions of those who have preceded them. But can they lead? Will they be equipped to face fresh challenges?

Christian leaders for these times will need to be multi-dimensional and authentic; today there are few secrets and an alarming taste for exploitation of weaknesses. Leaders will need to be doctrinally sound, culturally relevant, publicly engaged, relationally winsome, attractively articulate, and morally consistent.

What young Christians may have what it takes to lead the church during the next generation and to be the face of American Christianity in the days ahead. I’m compiling a list of such potential leaders?

Here are three dozen on my list of candidates (with a hat tip to Brad Lomenick at Catalyst who has been thinking about these things). I’d like to hear for you: who do you think has the qualities and gifts to lead into the heart of the 21st century? Please let me know. 

  1. Jonathan Acuff, writer/blogger/consultant, creator of the Stuff Christians Like blog.
  2. Ben Arment,innovative author, trainer, church planter, creator of Story and the White Board Sessions.
  3. Leroy Barber, founder of Mission Year and author of New Neighbor, pastors in innercity Atlanta and guides young Christians into cross cultureal ministry in American cities.
  4. Mark Batterson author and pastor of National Community Church, which meets in theaters and coffee shops throughout the Washington, D.C. area.
  5. Francis Chan, popular speaker and author of Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.
  6. Eugene Cho. pastor in Seattle of Quest Church. Also soon to launch a new organization focused on global poverty.
  7. Ryan Dobson, edgy son on Christian radio’s most famous name; founded Kor Ministries and now co-hosting new radio program with his Dad.  
  8. Mark Driscoll, author and pastor of Mars Hill church in Seattle and leader of The Resurgence.
  9. Joshua Dubois, executive director of the White House office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

    Margaret Feinberg, author of Scouting the Divine

  10. Margaret Feinberg, extremely gifted and poetic speaker and author of Scouting the Divine.
  11. Cathleen Falsani, award winning Religion columnist for the Chicago Sun Times. Her recent book is  Sin Boldly
  12. Jessica Flannery, co-founder of Kiva, a platform for micro-finance throughout the world.
  13. Craig Groeschel, author and pastor of one of America’s largest and best churches, LifeChurchtv.
  14. Chris Heuertz, international executive director of Word Made Flesh. Chris spends most of the year around the world serving the poorest of the poor.
  15. Bethany Hoang, director of the International Justice Mission Institute, think tank for IJM, a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.
  16. Rani Hong, founder of the Tronie Foundation, committed to fighting slavery and human trafficking through education and policy.
  17. Skye Jethani,  managing editor of Leadership Journal and author of the recent book The Divine Commodity.
  18. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Research Group and author of unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity .
  19. Shaun King, pastor of Courageous Church in Atlanta, and part of Hope Atlanta, an initiative dedicated to helping Atlanta flood victims.
  20. Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America, an amazing organization that places recent college graduates as teachers in poor communities and underperforming schools across the country.
  21. Kyle Korver, NBA player for the Utah Jazz, started a foundation to help inner-city kids, and also recently launched Seer Clothing.
  22. Gabe Lyons, head of The Fermi Project, conducts the Q conference and projects for  new generation work towards long term, Gospel-centered cultural renewal.
  23. Scott McClellan, editor of Collide Magazine, and also purveyor of the Collide blog.
  24. Jonathan Merritt, a Southern Baptist insider who writes on culture and the church; he is  the founder of the Southern Baptist Climate and Environment Initiative and author of Green Like God.
  25. Donald Miller, storyteller and author of the best-seller Blue Like Jazz.
  26. Penny Young Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest conservative women’s organization.
  27. Jena Lee Nardella, executive director of Blood:Water Mission since she was 22.
  28. Lindsay Orr Tarquinio, founder with husband Gavin of LUO, an initiative focused on setting children free from poverty, sickness, and slavery and.
  29. Kevin Palau, EVP of the Luis Palau Association and the force behind Palau’s innovative street festivals.
  30. Hannah Song, executive director of Link Global, which aims to raise awareness regarding the North Korea crisis and helping to meet needs.
  31. Cameron Strang, founder and publisher of the popular Christian magazine on progressive culture, Relevant.
  32. Tyler Wigg Stevenson, a pastor and writer who leads the Two Futures Project, a movement of Christians for nuclear threat reduction and the global abolition of nuclear weapons

    Tyler Wigg Stevenson, head of the Two Futures Project.

  33. Zach Williams, singer/songwriter/recording artist in New York City.
  34. Pete Wilson, pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, uber blogger, and author of Plan B.
  35. Danny Wuerffel, former Heisman Trophy winner and now Visionary Leader of Desire Street Ministries.
  36. Brian Wurzell, pastor, worship leader, blogger extraordinaire, and creative guru. On staff with Cornerstone Church in Chandler, AZ.
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About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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10 Responses to Passing the Torch: Who will lead the evangelicals?

  1. brianwurzell says:

    thanks for putting me on the list. now i better live up to it. 🙂

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