As more evangelical figures embrace crowdfunding, is the format demanding too much of them?
To release her first contemporary Christian music album back in 2004, Beth Barnard signed a contract with Sparrow Records during her freshman year of high school.
Her 11-song debut was self-titled Bethany Dillon, a stage name she adopted at the recommendation of execs who thought her maiden name—Adelsberger—would be a mouthful. Through Sparrow (now Capitol Christian Music Group), Barnard spent most of her teen years recording music. Her hit songs were nominated for Dove Awards and appeared on WOW compilations.
She then married Shane Barnard—one Shane-half of Christian music group Shane & Shane—and realized that she wanted to stay at home with her family rather than record and tour. More than a decade and four kids later, Barnard sensed last year that she had another collection of songs to share. Only this time, she launched a Kickstarter campaign.
The crowdfunding site had allowed Barnard to release a worship album, A Better Word, in 2017. She turned to Kickstarter again in 2021 to bypass some of the business baggage she was happy to leave behind when she stepped away from the music industry years ago, like marketing efforts and hitting the road to promote the album.
Her fans remembered her and came through, giving more than $20,000 in the first 12 hours of the fundraiser in January.
“Thank you, thank you … not only for helping us meet the financial part of rolling this out, but also for what that speaks … that you’re behind this and excited about it,” Barnard told backers in a recorded video after her project was funded.
Kickstarter, where supporters can pledge for a one-time project, and platforms like Substack and Patreon, where they can pay to subscribe for content ...
Caroline Campbell's project aims to inspire Christians to learn Scripture and see disabilities as a gift to the church.
Kenny Campbell was doing some spring cleaning when he found a stack of papers with his daughter Caroline’s handwriting on them. He looked at the pages and realized there was something special about them. It was Scripture, copied word for word by hand.
The Campbells attend Community Bible Church in Beaufort County, South Carolina, and their teenage daughter, who has Down syndrome, was writing down the verses their pastor preached on. Carl Broggi is an expository preacher, going verse by verse; Caroline had recorded those verses in her own hand.
“This is amazing, Caroline, how much you’ve written,” Kenny told her.
On a whim, he said she could do the whole Bible.
“Yeah, okay,” Caroline said.
Those two words kicked off a nine-year project. Starting in January 2012 and finishing in June 2021, Caroline, who is now 28, copied the entire Bible by hand. She started in Genesis and worked her way through Revelation, writing down all 782,815 words from her 1973 New American Standard Bible.
Caroline’s mother, Jennifer, estimates the completed manuscript is more than 10,000 pages. It is compiled in 43 binders.
Once she started, Caroline said, she just didn’t stop. She persisted out of her devotion to the Bible and her desire to encourage others.
“I want to inspire people to learn the Bible,” she told CT.
Kenny and Jennifer say this has been key to their experience of having a daughter with Down syndrome. They have had to learn not to put limits on her. When their daughter was diagnosed, they had deep concerns. But they soon decided to treat her like any other child. And then they learned that she would, on occasion, completely blow them away with the amazing ways she was different.
Despite the lingering stereotypes, the Monterrey-based singer and minister set out to prove contemporary worship services can hold to the authority of Scripture.
For Layla de la Garza, worship music has been a way to draw nearer to Jesus and the Word.
Having grown up in a conservative traditional church, Layla was transformed by listening to Passion’s worship music as a teenager. Many years later, in 2015, she met CCM musician Christy Nockels, who became her mentor and invited her to participate in IF:Gathering. De la Garza has used her talents in this ministry to serve as a worship and teaching leader, multiplying IF’s reach among the international Spanish-speaking community.
Back in her hometown of Monterrey, a city of more than a million in northeastern Mexico, some still remain suspicious of contemporary worship, with its bright lights and big stages. But at VIDAIN church, where de la Garza and her husband, Diego, serve as part of the pastoral team, they’ve set out to show that high production value does not mean compromising on the truth of the gospel. She’s also the host of Notas con Dios, a podcast where she discusses finding God and hope in everyday life.
CT spoke with Layla about her vision for the church, the role of women in the church in Mexico, and her call to worship, ministry, and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. (This interview was originally conducted in Spanish.)
How would you describe the evangelical church in Mexico to people from other countries?
Latin Americans in general are very passionate. Relationships and building community are very important to us. Our relationships are very warm: We hug each other and create intimacy easily, even with people we have just met. These characteristics of Latin culture are very present in the evangelical church in Mexico.
It is beautiful because I believe we have the potential to be like the first ...
(UPDATED) 12 Christian IRF advocates praise Rashad Hussain, Obama’s OIC envoy, for his credentials and credibility. Two USCIRF commissioners and antisemitism envoy also named.
The White House announced Friday a slate of nominations and appointments for top religious affairs roles, including the first Muslim American nominated to be the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom (IRF).
President Joe Biden will select Rashad Hussain as his nominee for that post, filling a State Department slot vacant since former Kansas governor and US Senator Sam Brownback—who co-chaired a bipartisan IRF summit for 1,200 attendees this month—left at the close of the Trump administration.
Hussain, who would need to be confirmed by the Senate, currently works as director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council. He previously served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama, as well as US special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and US special envoy for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, among other roles.
Knox Thames, who served as the State Department’s special advisor for religious minorities during both the Obama and Trump administrations, told CT that Hussain was “a strong pick.”
“He knows human rights and cares about religious freedom,” said Thames. “I saw firsthand how he raised these issues when he served as [OIC envoy]. I know he’ll be able to hit the ground running from day one to combat religious persecution.”
Judd Birdsall, a senior research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University who served with Hussain at the State Department from 2009–2011, told CT that the nomination is a “fantastic choice” because Hussain has “impeccable credentials, extensive diplomatic and legal experience, ...
The ministry leader believed declining US churches could be revitalized by hearing Wesleyans “with a different accent.”
H Eddie Fox, who hoped to renew American Methodism through evangelism and increased connections with global Christianity, died on Wednesday at age 83.
Fox led World Methodist Evangelism for 25 years, teaching, training, and empowering Methodists and Wesleyans to share their faith, and encouraging churches to make evangelism a priority. He pioneered several new initiatives that were popular in United Methodist Church (UMC) congregations, and he helped American churches connect with fellow Wesleyans outside the United States, especially in formerly communist countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
From 1989 to 2014, when Fox directed the world evangelism program, Methodists increased around the globe by about 1 million per year, even as the US membership of the UMC declined by about 2 million overall. Fox saw a direct link between the theology of the church and its vitality.
“Wherever the church is faithful to the doctrine, the sound teaching, the Discipline, the way of life—which is the way you order your life—and the spirit, openness to the Holy Spirit, you'll find a church that's dynamic, contagious and alive,” he said when he retired. “And where that is not true, you’ll find a church to be a dead sect, having the form but not the power thereof. That’s been a focus of my ministry. It’s been a call we’ve stood on for many, many years.”
Fox taught more Methodists how to share their faith than any one else in his lifetime, and became, for many, the evangelistic face of Methodism. He also taught at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism at Wheaton College for 15 years.
“He was dynamic and alive with his passion for the gospel, especially evangelism,” ...