Why pastors need to be ready to talk about the tough issues culture presents

December 8, 2017

This is the latest ERLC End-of-Year update as part of our RISE Campaign.

Racism. Transgenderism. Abortion. Immigration. Religious Liberty. Divorce.

The list of issues could go on and on. And part of the gospel response to these issues is to remember they are fundamentally about people, both sitting beside us in our church pews and our fellow image bearers of God we interact with every day.

With the breakneck pace of cultural issues facing the church, pastors are confronted every day with evaluating when a culture issue becomes so significant that they have to tackle it head on in the life of their church. When pastors need counsel, where can they look? One of the most important reasons the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission exists is to encourage and equip pastors to shepherd their congregations through complex cultural waters.

Pastors do not have the luxury to sit on the sidelines when tough topics confront the culture. Why? If pastors do not speak boldly, the culture certainly will. The role of the pastor is to shape the hearts and minds of believers who act as missionaries in the culture. Battered church members are looking to their leaders to supply them with the needed answers and hope.

Pastors do not have the luxury to sit on the sidelines when tough topics confront the culture.

Over the last year, our initiatives were aimed at cultivating pastors who are attentive and ready to engage the culture. In January, the ERLC braved frigid temperatures and marched on Washington D.C. as we held our second Evangelicals for Life conference. Evangelicals from across the country came together to advance the pro-life witness in our nation’s capital. In August, the ERLC held its largest National Conference yet under the leadership of president Russell Moore on the subject of Christ-centered parenting in a complex culture. That same month saw the release of a parenting curriculum by the same name.

The ERLC partnered with the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to release the much-discussed Nashville Statement, a confessional document for pastors and churches looking for clarity on the hot button issues of homosexuality and transgenderism.

This year, I published God and the Transgender Debate, the first book-length popular treatment on the subject designed to equip pastors and Christians on how to love our transgender neighbor.

These initiatives listed are just a small collection of the projects, initiatives, and events that kept the ERLC busy over the past year.

2018 looks to be yet another challenging year as Christians face a culture that is increasingly hostile to the truth of the gospel. A significant Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, will be decided in the Spring, and will determine the trajectory of religious liberty in America for generations to come. In 2018, we will again march on Washington sharing the truth about the unborn’s dignity. We will meet in Memphis to reflect upon the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. at what will surely be a historic event, MLK50. Finally, the ERLC will be in Dallas in August for its National Conference on the family.

We at the ERLC are thankful for the hope-filled opportunity to serve pastors from across the nation in their calling to be voices of clarity in turbulent times.

Help us multiply our efforts in the public square. Consider making a tax-deductible end-of-year gift to the ERLC today.

Andrew T. Walker

Andrew T. Walker is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. Read More