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The top 10 Outlook stories of 2023

From Taylor Swift to a "text of terror" to Robert's Rules. See the Outlook's top 10 stories from 2023.

As we bid farewell to 2023, I’ve rounded up the top 10 Outlook stories from 2023 that not only represent the year we lived, but the larger questions you, our readers, are interested in exploring.

From Hannah Lovaglio’s reflections on the transformative lessons learned from Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour to Frances Taylor Gench’s examination of women pastors and biblical authority, these stories offer a window into our faith and practice this year. In 2023, we also debated ordination exam controversies, explored innovative approaches to ministry, and sought to be relational. Take a walk through the past year and read through these crowd-favorites.

1. What Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour taught me about church

“I know my experience at the Eras Tour made me a better pastor,” writes Hannah Lovaglio.

2. On women pastors and biblical authority: A Presbyterian reflection

Responding to the Southern Baptist Convention’s actions to explicitly bar female pastoral leadership, biblical scholar Frances Taylor Gench reflects on how the PC(USA) engages Scripture that instructs women to be subservient such as 1 Timothy 2.

3. Four easy things that make worship welcoming

Sarah Are Speed explains four reasons people return to Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church’s chapel service every Sunday.

4. Ordination exam controversy raises broader issues

Reporter Erin Dunigan speaks with two ordained women with differing opinions on the selection of Judges 19 for the January exegesis exam.

5. PC(USA) administrators respond to public outcry after “text of terror” is selected for Hebrew exegesis exam

Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates will join a meeting of the Association of Mid Council Leaders on Wednesday, Feb. 8 to discuss their selection of Judges 19, “The Levite’s Concubine.” — Dartinia Hull

6. Do away with blind readers for PC(USA) ordination exams

Looking at the Book of Order, Paul Hooker argues that the PC(USA) over-emphasizes written ordination exams. His solution? Localize and personalize the grading.

7. The perilous and promising pulpit

“Before there is faithful preaching, there is faithful listening,” writes Thomas G. Long.

8. Who was Robert and why do his rules rule?

Attorney and professional parliamentarian Jim Slaughter shares a brief history of Robert’s Rules of Order.

9. Innovators in ministry you should know

The folks who are finding ways to do church differently — and in ways that might have a faithful impact, writes Teri McDowell Ott.

10. Investing in relationships over church programs

The church’s potential to reach the younger generations depends on our ability to prioritize relational ministry over programmatic ministry, writes Aaron Neff.