By / Sep 7

This year, I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 ERLC National Conference, which was focused on the timely and relevant topic of Christian cultural engagement. It proved to be informative and influential in my thinking.

As a young 18-year-old Christian who is interested in politics, this election season has been soul-crushing. I have felt betrayed. I have listened to demagoguery. I have watched leaders compromise conviction for political power. It’s been disillusioning, to say the least. How could this happen? The conference speakers provided some insight as to how we got here.

How did we get here?

I learned that this is a result of a church with distorted priorities. We have tolerated heretics in the pursuit of political power. We have been willing to call out the sins of others but refused to call out the sins of our own church body. We have allowed moralistic therapeutic deism to take to take root in our churches in the name of Christianity. We have refused to adopt the racial reconciliation of the apostle Paul, and instead adopted a policy of indifference, which is a problem that we can no longer blame on outside forces; it is a problem within the church itself.

The church has been complicit in allowing itself and its values to be tainted. For too long, the church has traded its gospel witness for temporary political power. Yet, the speakers at the conference did not merely stop at a diagnosis. They also provided solutions.

An opportunity for the church

For the Christian, this should not be a time of doom and gloom; it is an unbelievable opportunity to reshape our priorities. Instead of mourning, we can be thankful that “the shaking of American culture is causing a falling out of the almost-gospel that has plagued the church,” according to Russell Moore.

The church has an unbelievable opportunity. We can be biblically bold and honest in a culture that is confused about almost everything. The church can and must be the place that fights for racial unity while bigotry goes mainstream in the culture. We can fight for purity when immorality is celebrated. We can stand on principle when manipulation is the norm. We can stand for justice in a culture of injustice. We can stand for moral courage in a time of moral cowardice. We must be willing to call sin, sin, not only in the culture at large but especially in our own churches. Most importantly, we must stand for gospel truth in any and every circumstance. The church must be a place where the gospel is prioritized above all else.

I left the 2016 ERLC National Conference incredibly thankful for the leadership of Russell Moore and those within the ERLC on these vital cultural issues. I especially appreciate their apparent desire for gospel-centered racial reconciliation. For too long, the church has been silent on racial reconciliation as a gospel issue. As Bryan Loritts said in his talk, “The only thing worse than hate is indifference.” We must combat the racial segregation in our churches. The new heavens and new earth will be made up of every tribe, tongue and nation, and our churches should reflect that here and now whenever possible. “If all of your relationships are with people who look like, sound like, and dress like you; you are missing out on the beauty of the gospel,” exhorted Bryan Loritts. We must follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul, who believed that any form of ethnic supremacy was out of step with the Christian gospel message, of which he was willing to lay down his own life.

My final thought is a powerful word of gospel courage I heard from Russell Moore’s keynote address: “Because the gospel is true, we must march into the culture, not with fear, but with the courage of people who are going onward and upward.” So I say to my fellow millennials, we must move onward in Jesus’ name.

By / Sep 6

In a year of political turmoil and unrest in many cultures, the 2016 National Conference helped bring some clarity to weighty and confusing topics. Based on Russell Moore’s book, “Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel,” this event addressed topics from movies to politics to parenting. Today’s podcast features feedback about the conference from several ERLC staff members: Dan Darling, Phillip Bethancourt, Jason Thacker, and Elizabeth Graham. We hope you enjoy this conversation.

By / Aug 26

What is the role of the church in political discourse? How can artists lead in the church? What is racial reconciliation on a tangible level?

Speakers and panelists like Russell Moore, Andy Stanley, Trip Lee and Gabe Lyons tackled questions like these during the first day of the third annual Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s National Conference in Nashville.

Hosted at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, the conference attracted around 1,000 pastors and cultural leaders to discuss how the gospel and Scripture apply to the role of Christians and the church in the public square.

Racial reconciliation

Leaving little time for shallow homilies, opening speaker Bryan Loritts immediately confronted what he called “evangelical passivity” among the church – especially the white church – in dealing with racial injustice. His keynote session that kicked off the conference springboarded off of Paul’s discussion of being “all things to all people” in 1 Corinthians 9.

“There will be color in heaven,” Loritts said. “So we cannot dismiss that now. It must be something that we incarnate and that we live.”

He added that a colorblind ethic is to have a low view of the imago dei – that the theology of a “fearfully and wonderfully made” person includes every aspect of him or her. Everyone in the church should intentionally have friends from diverse cultures and backgrounds, he said, with a posture of listening.

“Oh dear friend, let’s go to war with evangelical passivity,” Loritts concluded. “Let’s have Paul’s redemptive impatience.”

Los Angeles pastor and community leader D.A. Horton solidified that message, agreeing that racial issues “are thorns in the side of the American church.”

His message was succinct: the church needs intellectual equipping – such as reading the works of minorities and women in seminary.

“It’s one thing to have a multiethnic church, but another to have multiethnic leadership,” Horton said.

The church also needs interpersonal engagement and dialogue, and as disagreements arise in those discussions – interdependent endurance.

During his session, rapper-pastor Trip Lee had similar practical advice for Christians who want to engage culture, drilling in on the theme of simple faithfulness.

“There is another way to engage culture, and that is to be faithful in public,” he preached. “We should more deeply embrace the simple. Innovation is fine, but not at the cost of the simple.”

Church and the arts

Often, when the word “culture” is tossed around among thought leaders, the first implication is cultural artifacts like music, art and film.

People “still long for transcendence,” worship and arts pastor Mike Cosper said during his session, and look for greater hope and greater meaning in the stories those mediums tell.

“They’re telling stories that are telling about the good life and power, money, sex,” he said. The church has “an enormous opportunity” through this, he added – “to tell the world that there is more to life than money, power, and sex. That message has always been at the heart of the church’s message and witness.”

Cosper also moderated a panel including film critic and The King’s College professor Alissa Wilkinson, Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior, and pastor-storyteller Steven Bush. Bush pushed for pastors to utilize artists in their congregations, not only to use their talents but also to empower them to leadership.

Preaching cultural application

During the evening session, Russell Moore and Andy Stanley took the roundtable approach to debate how preachers can engage non-Christians who might walk through their front door, disagreeing respectfully over which subjects are appropriate for the pulpit for a mixed audience. Stanley, for example, has never preached on abortion, he said.

Later, pastors Dan Darling, Robby Gallaty, Bryan Lorrits, David Prince and Jimmy Scroggins disseminated further ideas on local contextualization and application, sharing stories from their diverse church bodies.

“You don’t lead with your politics,” Scroggins said. “You lead with the gospel.”

What about offending their congregations?

“I’ve got to remind myself, the Bible works,” Lorrits said.

By / Aug 19

In just a few days, close to 1,000 people will be arriving in Nashville for the 2016 ERLC National Conference. This year's topic is “Onward: How to engage the culture without losing the gospel.” Since not all of you reading this are able to attend, we want to let you know how you can still join us from the comfort of your living room.

We are pleased to offer you a unique simulcast experience. Many people will gather with their churches, small groups or Bible studies to watch the conference while others will stay home and watch on their own laptop or television. All the information you need to join the livestream is listed below.

The simulcast will be hosted by Dan Darling, Trillia Newbell and Steven Harris. It will feature special interviews with keynote speakers and more.

There is no pre-registration required for the livestream. Click on this link and enter your name and e-mail address before proceeding to the stream. More information can be found here, or you can read below for common questions about the simulcast.

What do I need to host a simulcast?

  • An internet connection
  • A desktop or laptop computer
  • A mobile phone or tablet with internet connection

What kind of internet connection do I need?

  • DSL — service is faster than dial up and runs through your phone line
  • Broadband or cable modem — this is a dedicated line from your cable service

Is there a browser you recommend?

We recommend a “neutral” browser or one that doesn’t depend on the operating system of your computer. These tend to use less on-board resources and result in a higher quality video. We recommend using Firefox or Chrome for PC and Mac. We do not recommend using Internet Explorer. Please be sure you update your browsers before the event to get the most recent versions.

We hope many of you can join us, and we encourage you to share a picture of you or your friends enjoying the simulcast. Be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #ERLC2016 so that we can share your photo with our audience.

Twitter: @ERLC
Instagram: @ERLCSBC

By / Aug 4

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission will partner with Alliance Defending Freedom to offer a free post-conference, “The 2016 Presidential Race, Religious Liberty and the Future of the Church,” Saturday, Aug. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. CDT for all attendees of the ERLC National Conference.

Post-conference speakers will include, among others,

  • Russell Moore, ERLC president;
  • David French, lawyer and writer at National Review;
  • Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom;
  • Rod Dreher, senior editor at The American Conservative; and
  • Jennifer Marshall, vice president for the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation.

Through keynotes, panels and live Q&A, speakers will discuss the 2016 presidential election and the future of evangelical politics, as well as the future of religious liberty in America.

Members of the national press are invited to attend both the ERLC 2016 National Conference, “Onward,” August 25-26 and the post-conference in Nashville, Tenn., at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

Interested media should email Elizabeth Bristow at [email protected] to receive a special offer and to reserve their spot. The national conference and post-conference will be streamed at with exclusive speaker content for live-stream participants.

Registration for both events is now open and conference details and speaker information can be found online.

Follow the conversation on Twitter by following @ERLC, @dmoore and #ERLC2016.

By / Jun 27

Russell Moore did an interview with the Biblical Recorder to talk about the ERLC's third annual national conference Aug. 25-26 in Nashville, Tenn. 

Read the interview here

By / Mar 8

NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 8, 2016The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention will host its 2016 National Conference, Onward, August 25-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.

This third annual conference will equip attendees on gospel-centered cultural engagement so they can interact with an increasingly hostile and shifting culture without compromising the unchanging truths of the Bible.

Conference speakers will participate in plenary sessions, panel discussions and breakout sessions on a variety of issues touching every aspect of cultural engagement, including the arts, politics, sports, race, sexuality, parenting, millennials and everyday life.

Key speakers and topics include:

– “Russell Moore”:, President, ERLC – Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel

– “Matt Chandler”:, Lead Teaching Pastor, The Village Church – Unbuckling the Bible Belt: Cultural Engagement in the Capital of Cultural Christianity

– “Andy Crouch”:, Executive Director, Christianity Today – Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk, and True Flourishing

– “Jackie Hill-Perry”:, Poet, Artist with Humble Beast Records – Millennials and Cultural Engagement

– “Gabe Lyons”:, Founder, Q Ideas – Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme

– “Andy Stanley”:, Founder, North Point Ministries – Leadership, Preaching, and Cultural Engagement: A Conversation with Russell Moore

– “Bryan Loritts”:, Lead Pastor, Abundant Life Christian Fellowship – Right Color, Wrong Culture: The Gospel and Multi-Ethnic Cultural Engagement

– “Darrin Patrick”:, Lead Pastor, The Journey Church – The Dude’s Guide to Marriage: Love and Fidelity in a Hookup Culture

Commenting on the National Conference, Moore said:

I am thrilled about the 2016 ERLC National Conference Onward focusing on cultural engagement. We want to equip Christians to apply the gospel to everyday life. Thats why we have invited an amazing lineup of speakers to cover an ambitious set of topics. In an increasingly complex world, we must prepare Christians to engage the culture without losing the gospel.

Previous topics addressed at ERLC National Conferences include the gospel, homosexuality and the future of marriage and the gospel and politics.

Registration is now open and conference details and speaker information can be found “online.”:

Follow the conversation on Twitter by following @ERLC, @dmoore and #ERLC2016.

The Southern Baptist Convention is Americas largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBCs ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

To request an interview with Russell Moore

contact Elizabeth Bristow at 202-547-0209

or by email at [email protected]

Visit our website at

Follow us on Twitter at @ERLC