As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our world in unexpected ways, one notable development at Christianity Today has been the sudden acceleration of the timetable for CT Global, the ministry ’s multi-year initiative to increase its coverage and engagement with the church around the world.
“The church worldwide has rarely experienced such an identical set of challenges, all at the same time, and thus the need to learn from each other has never been greater,” said Jeremy Weber, director of CT Global. “We spent the past year traveling the globe and researching what a central nervous system for the body of Christ—where every part of the body could know what every other part is doing, at the speed of news and social media—would look like in 2020. This pandemic has forced us to test our findings early. And God is blessing the result.”
Since January, people from 175 countries have read CT’s COVID-19 related content, and CT has expansive coverage of how the pandemic is affecting Christians globally. CT has published an essay on Martin Luther ’s pandemic advice by a dual medical/theology student whose grandparents live in Wuhan; reflections on prayer from a pastor in Italy; advice on serving amid COVID-19 from church leaders in Singapore; a discussion about closing churches from pastors in Brazil; a report on tithing amid coronavirus closures from East Africa; and how surviving COVID-19 refocused the faith of the president of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance.
Along with sourcing articles from international writers and doubling its volume of international articles year-over-year, CT has also robustly increased its number of translated articles, an initiative boosted through new reader relationships. Earlier this year, one Spanish-speaking subscriber volunteered to assist CT weekly after being led by God to translate Sy Garte’s testimony from the March issue for some atheist relatives.
Since CT’s coverage of the pandemic began through early May, 80 translations in 8 languages have been published in a matter of weeks. Articles have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Korean, and both traditional and simplified Chinese. These translations have been read in 100 countries so far. More than 250,000 people have read CT’s non-English coronavirus content, and 60 percent of those 250,000 have found CT via Google.
“Currently 1 in 3 of our online readers is outside the US, but we’ve only been serving their information needs in English,” said Weber. “Now that the new coronavirus had made the universal church unfortunately more universal (we’re all locked down and unable to worship together), we decided to test some of our best COVID-19 content in other languages—and the response has greatly exceeded our expectations.”
One of CT’s top 3 most-read articles of 2020 is a piece by global health expert Daniel P. Chin asking the question: Should Your Church Stop Meeting to Slow COVID-19? The success of this article has been driven by not only its domestic popularity, but also by this expanding global audience as churches around the world have looked to CT for guidance on how to handle this unprecedented crisis.
“Christianity Today is the beacon we look up to for balanced, biblical news,” said Lawrence Chia, chairman of the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore. “We in Asia are so wary of people with their own agendas, who are not thinking of the whole church biblically and who have a lack of true concern for the body of Christ. We are also concerned about trends, not sure whether to jump on the bandwagon or not so we don ’t miss out on God ’s blessing.”
One of the ways CT engages its global audience has been through Twitter, where 30 percent of CT’s 347,000 followers are outside the US, and Facebook, where 50 percent of CT’s 466,000 followers are outside the US. In fact, 8 of the top 10 cities where CT has the most followers—and 40 of the top 50—are outside the US.
“Since the coronavirus pandemic began in the US, I have been engaging our audience with conversations about their reading habits, which worship songs are speaking to them, and how their church lives have changed,” said digital media producer Morgan Lee. “Over the course of asking these questions, we’ve heard from hundreds of people from dozens of countries around the world.”
A survey of more than 1,000 readers has revealed strong enthusiasm for more global content and more translations, as well as desire by readers to discover and share the content more easily via dedicated email newsletters, Facebook and WhatsApp groups, a Telegram channel, and more.
“We’ll be implementing all of these recommendations as soon as possible,” said Weber. “We’re honored to play a key goal in better connecting the global body of Christ, and circulating the best of its wisdom and practice around the world. There are dozens of stories we’re excited to tell, and that need to be told, as soon as we find the right partners and resources.”
Chia appreciates the intentionality that Christianity Today incorporates into it work.
“We like that CT is not a fly-by-night operation. It may be the one reliable, easily available resource,” he said. “Keep up your good work, and your track record of consistency and biblical content. And please continue to explore how your wisdom, your resources, your good work can be made more easily known.”
Nick De Neff is a writer based in the Midwest.