Today’s ERLC Leadership Roundtable brings together several members of the ERLC Leadership Network Council to discuss why leaders should engage culture.
Today’s Roundtable participants include:
- Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Houston, Texas
- Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas
- Jon Akin, pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, Tenn.
- Richard Piles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Camden, Ark.
- Phillip Bethancourt, Executive Vice President, ERLC
- John Powell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hamlin, Texas
- Justin Wainscott, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn.
Why is it important for pastors and other Christian leaders to stay equipped for cultural engagement?
- Nathan Lino: Pastors and leaders must stay equipped for cultural engagement because otherwise we by default outsource discipleship of our people and the future of the local church to news anchors. We have to hold onto Eph. 4:11-12. Pastors and Christian leaders have been given to the saints to help them process and think critically about cultural issues. It is part of our core responsibility to them.
- Bart Barber: When a pastor engages with the members of the flock he is engaging the culture. Pastors are wise to equip themselves as well as possible for cultural engagement, for it pertains no less to the pastoral counseling session, the youth retreat, the deacons meeting, or the dinner with a new member than it does to the Sunday sermon or the political rally.
- Jon Akin: Christian leaders need to engage the culture because we have been called to transform the culture and the people in the culture by the Gospel Jesus Christ. This means that we need to be able to answer the questions the culture is asking with the good news about Jesus.
- Richard Piles: In my opinion, the culture is “the rubber hitting the road.” Christians can know what they believe in their minds and hearts, but that must play out at some point in your daily life. That is culture. Therefore, pastors and Christian leaders are wise to remain equipped to engage the latest cultural issues.
- Phillip Bethancourt: Cultural engagement is another way of describing the pastors’ job of application. In the pulpit, when pastors seek to apply the text to the lives of their congregation, they are doing cultural engagement. In the foyer, when pastors or leaders are responding to questions about the latest situation in the news, they are doing cultural engagement. Since cultural engagement is bound up in many of the key tasks of pastors or leaders, they must be intentional about staying equipped in this area.
- John Powell: I have found that pastors who are unengaged culturally, have no teeth to be able to speak to the issues really plaguing our communities. The large issues in culture are largely symptoms of a deeper disease. As a minster of the gospel, I know that I have the cure for the disease, but if I am not able to immediately and honestly address the symptoms, it's likely I'll never be given a chance to look any deeper than the surface, nor given the authority to be heard on other matters of even more significance – namely matters of the soul.
- Justin Wainscott: Pastors and leaders must stay equipped for cultural engagement for three primary reasons: (1) So that we can be salt and light, as Jesus taught us to be (2) So that we can speak to cultural issues with clarity, conviction, and compassion; and (3) So that we can teach and model appropriate cultural engagement for those in our congregations.