This past year may be defined for some evangelicals by the bits of duct tape put over the word United on so many United Methodist Church signs. Or the 152 bullets fired at a Christian school in Nashville, killing six people. Or by the hymns that Tim Keller chose to have sung at his funeral.

There were moments of grace amid a lot of darkness. There was also a lot of darkness. There were tragedies, prayers, votes, big decisions, and little decisions made with great determination, contributing to the ongoing, unfolding shifts in evangelicalism.

As 2023 draws to a close, here are 10 stories that stood out to us as pivotal.

10. New York City Christian College Closures

A number of evangelical colleges saw record enrollment in fall 2023, but Christian higher education still suffered from long-term trends. This year New York City watched the closing of its only two evangelical colleges, The King’s College and Alliance University (formerly Nyack College). Nyack in particular was a historic loss; the Christian and Missionary Alliance school was 140 years old.

9. Mass Shooting at Nashville Christian School

The Covenant School in Nashville was targeted in the most high-profile attack on a Christian school in US history, with a shooter killing three students and three staff during an attack in March. The tragedy led some Covenant families to call for stricter “red flag” laws to prevent gun violence.

8. Church of England’s Same-Sex Blessings

In a long-awaited and long-debated compromise, Anglicans approved on a trial basis special services to bless same-sex couples. Evangelicals feared the decision could split the Church of England, and conservatives from the Global South denounced the move.

7. SBC and CMA Votes on Women in Ministry

Two denominations considered policies around women in pastoral roles, with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) backing the removal of Saddleback Church for its female pastors and the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) voting to allow women to use the title of “pastor” in non-elder positions (leading a handful of churches to leave the CMA).

6. Abuse Allegations

Several major ministries and churches investigated abuse allegations, including against International House of Prayer founder Mike Bickle in Kansas City, Missouri, and Soul Survivor founder Mike Pilavachi in England. Others faced scrutiny over their response to abuse, including counselors at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church; leaders at Chi Alpha and the Assemblies of God who knew about a sex offender’s ongoing ministry involvement; and Hillsong’s Brian Houston, who was found not guilty of covering up abuse by his father.


The year began with a celebration of the 20th anniversary of PEPFAR, a hugely successful program to fight HIV/AIDS that has saved 25 million lives and currently has 20 million people on treatment, often through faith-based partners on the ground. But the program was up for reauthorization this year, and US pro-life groups have successfully halted its renewal based on thus-far unsubstantiated concerns about the program funding abortions. African Christians working in health care are worried about what the implications will be for the millions they are treating.

4. Israel-Hamas War

Hamas coordinated a surprise terror attack from Gaza on Israeli civilians on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and throwing the region into war. War brought civilian casualties to Palestinians too, and local Christians in the Holy Land wrestled through how to live with both anger and hope. Palestinian Christians said they wanted Hamas gone, while in the US Christians tried to find ways to address rising antisemitism.

3. Tim Keller’s Death

A generational influence on the global church, New York pastor and author Tim Keller died in May after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Keller modeled graceful engagement in American evangelicalism’s growing tensions, built up local churches, and showed how to worship in the face of death. CT published a special issue on Keller this year.

2. Asbury University Revival

When its chapel service stretched on for weeks and drew crowds with reports of “revival,” Asbury University in Kentucky prioritized the leadership of its students and the work of the Spirit over celebrity and spectacle. The outpouring at Asbury inspired revivals at other campuses and encouraged Christians worldwide.

1. United Methodist Church Disaffiliations

As a result of ongoing denominational divides on same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy, more than 7,600 congregations have left the United Methodist Church, with around 5,600 departing in 2023 alone. Some struggled to disaffiliate and keep their property, including Korean American churches and churches in states like Georgia, where they took legal action.

Check out the rest of our 2023 year-end lists here.