Breaking Up Big Green

In 1982, AT&T agreed to break up what for decades had been a monopoly on telephone service in the United States. The smaller regional spin-offs were nicknamed “Baby Bells,” a reference to the fact that AT&T traced its lineage back to Bell Telephone Company (as in Alexander Graham Bell). I propose that it’s time to do something similar with The Gospel Coalition. In the span of just 14 years, it has become one of the major hubs of mainstream evangelical thought—certainly the biggest of the Reformedish world. And as such, they have become gatekeepers of The Conversation.

But first, what is it exactly that they do? Are they a denomination? A website? A conference promoter? An advocacy group? The answer to all of these questions, of course, is yes. So, I propose this simple plan: Break up The Gospel Coalition into six separate, self-governing organizations, which I outline below:

  1. The website. Ask most Christians familiar with The Gospel Coalition (TGC) what it is, and I am willing to bet a majority answer “a website.” What initially was supposed to serve TGC as a resource has become synonymous with the organization itself. Since the website won the branding war, it gets to keep the name. As it currently does, the website will continue to feature a daily dose of blogs, explainer pieces, and linked articles.

  2. Conference producer. TGC has already expanded its operations in recent years, branching out into regional conferences. It holds a women’s conference every two years. My recommendation would be for the conference group to merge with Together for the Gospel and rebrand themselves as GospelCon. Many of the regular speakers already appear at both conferences.

  3. Denomination. TGC would likely not admit this, but in many ways it is already acting as a denomination. Their Council alone has 52 members, many of whom are pastors. Since the website already won the naming rights, the denomination could be incorporated as Third Way Church. They would retain The Gospel Coalition missional initiatives and ecclesiastical resources. Each church currently listed in the website directory that is not a part of a denomination would automatically be grandfathered into the Third Way denomination. Members of the Council who are pastors or elders of churches that belong to an existing denomination could return to ministering to those congregations, where they are needed most.

  4. Publishing house. The Gospel Coalition publishing arm is basically an imprint of Crossway Publishing already, so it would simply be absorbed by Crossway.

  5. Online education. The Gospel Coalition’s collection of online courses is impressively deep. This group would be relaunched as Gospel U and partner with Phil Vischer’s Big Idea Productions to produce animated courses for all age levels.

  6. Social justice advocacy group. Russell Moore, Kyle Howard, and Timothy Isaiah Cho would spearhead this group. They would keep control of the MLK Conference and take over the Revoice Conference. They would also act as a lobbying group, but instead of lobbying politicians they would lobby local churches.

In my modest proposal, each one of these new organizations would only become stronger as they are freed up to focus their time and energy on a singular goal. It’s time to break up Big Green.