Friday, August 31, 2012

Operation Integrity in Christianity Today: "Real, Deep, Honest"


Christianity Today: "Real, Deep, Honest"

Operation Integrity's David Zailer believes the ministry of Christianity Today opens the conversation for difficult issues.
 

byChris Lutes
 
David Zailer, executive director of Operation Integrity, received a call from a respected church leader who'd been struggling with a secret porn addiction throughout his four decades in ministry. He'd found out about Zailer's addiction recovery ministry through a Leadership Journal article titled "Surprised by Addiction." So, he decided to give Zailer a call. The man is now taking positive steps to deal with his addiction—steps he was willing to take, says Zailer, because ministries like Christianity Today wade boldly into some of the church's most taboo and troubling issues. ChristianityToday.org recently talked to Zailer about why the church benefits from Leadership Journal and the entire ministry of Christianity Today.

What role do you believe Leadership Journal plays in your ministry and the church at large?
When Leadership Journal publishes stories like "Surprised by Addiction," it helps create an open and honest conversation about difficult issues that are often not discussed in the church. Articles like that strip away the veneer to reveal what's really there. Leadership Journal willingly wades into territory often uncharted by religious culture. I find that refreshing.

It gets beneath the surface of polite church conversation, doesn't it?
Articles like "Surprised by Addiction" and "Help for the Sexually Desperate" [that appeared in Christianity Today magazine] humanize the issue of addiction—they put a personal story behind the struggle. Now, there will be those in the religious community who'll look at articles like these and wag a judgmental finger at these pastors and church leaders. But there's also going to be the pastor who says, "I have no finger to wag, no more stones to throw. In fact, I think I have an addiction too."

Talk more about how these articles humanize the issue.
They help us see good in these pastors. You come to see them as courageous for their honesty and for the positive steps they've taken. It's the kind of courage that causes someone to cry out, "You know, I am past worrying about what people will think of me. I have some serious work to do here—and now is my opportunity to do that work."

What about the entire ministry of Christianity Today? Why do you feel it's needed?
Christianity Today is a voice of balance in a religious culture that can be so divided. You seek to unify—to find common ground. While you strive to be theologically accurate, you don't pick sides on issues that don't have black-and-white answers.

Finally, what do you appreciate most about this ministry?
I both admire and appreciate Christianity Today's willingness to deal with difficult topics in such a sensitive and human way. You don't simply do inspirational fluff stories. Your articles are real, deep, and honest. You don't gloss over issues, pretending they aren't there. You also don't follow the latest trend or simply cover what's fashionable. Those sorts of qualities and commitments give you a great deal of credibility.

Chris Lutes is on the editorial team of Christianity Today, serving the ministries of Men of Integrity, ChristianBibleStudies.com, and SmallGroups.com

 

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