By / Jul 23

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church was founded 35 years ago by pastor Bryant Wright, in a doctor’s office. The church has since grown tremendously. Since its founding, Bryant Wright has transformed from a church planter to an influential pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Everything about Johnson Ferry, from the parking lot to the church foyer to Wright’s office, emphasizes missions and spreading the gospel at any cost. Johnson Ferry is a model church with a model pastor. This is why it seemed out of place when Wright announced his plans to transition as the pastor. In sit-down interview, Wright shares from his heart why he thought this was the best time to do it.

Maina Mwaura: Can we go back down memory lane to when you were called to plant a church?

Bryant Wright: I grew up in the Atlanta area and came to know Christ through Young Life. I was called into the ministry working in the sales department of a Chemical Company for three years. I thought I would follow my father’s footsteps in business. After being called into the ministry, I went to seminary and graduated. I thought I was going to pastor after I graduated from seminary, so it was a detour when I received a call from Ed Young, who was influential in my life, asking Ann and me to come on staff and start the singles ministry at Second Baptist Church Houston. I enjoyed my time seeing a church impact its city like Second Houston did. When I came here to start JFBC, we met in a doctor’s office, with no land, no staff, and only about 20 families.

MM: When did you know that God was leading you to transition from pastoring JFBC?

BW: It was over a year-long process of praying and asking the Lord for direction. I can tell you where it began. I was leaving an elders meeting in the spring of 2017, which had nothing to do with secession planning by the way. I was talking to one of the elders in the parking lot, who was just talking about millennials and their likes and dislikes with building and construction concepts. He’s in the construction business.

He happened to mention that when millennials walk into our atrium, they immediately know this is not a church for them; it’s a church for baby boomers. Millennials are looking for something different, less rigid in structure. It got me thinking that when I came here I understood and knew the baby boomer culture. I just instinctively understood the culture of boomers, but with the millennials, and now Generation Z, I’m not going to instinctively think as they do. Over the next year, I just began to pray.

MM: What did your wife think when you told her about transitioning from the pastorate?

BW: When I told my wife, Ann, she wasn’t for it initially. She just thought it would blow over, honestly. She thought maybe I needed a vacation, but it’s not a matter of fatigue. I really don’t feel tired. I think there’s still plenty of gas in the tank.

MM: What do you plan on doing afterward?

BW: We are in the process of looking for the next pastor, and when the committee lands on someone and calls  him to be our next pastor, the plan is to stay for three to six months to help him with the transitioning process. I hope God’s going to use me somewhere. I really do. I’ll keep doing my personal ministry, “Right from the hHeart.” I want to keep mentoring young pastors. I love doing that. I also would like to keep preaching.

MM: What do you enjoy about mentoring younger pastors?

BW: I love mentoring younger pastors in hopes that they will finish strong. It is a two-year process and meets once a quarter. I’m just trying to pour into [them] the basic principles of how to finish strong. There are so many shipwrecks that I’ve seen along the way; I don’t want them to be one of those guys. I learn more from them than they get from me. After transitioning from JFBC, my hope is to keep multiplying that.

MM: What has God taught you through this process?

BW: Through the process, I felt like God was asking me, “Are you willing to lay down your Isaac?” God loves JFBC more than I ever could. When I finally came to the decision, I told the elders and key staff.  The peace I had in doing that was a key indicator to me in knowing that I was doing what God had called me to do. It’s been very emotional, the times of just walking the halls and remembering stories along the way.  But I have such peace that it’s time to hand it off to a younger man. Hopefully an older millennial, younger Generation X kind of guy that could build on this foundation.

MM: What one thing comes to mind when you’re thanking God for being able to pastor JFBC?

BW: You’re walking on holy ground in people’s life. The stories they tell you and the moments that I’ve been a part of in their lives are in their times of joy and crisis. As a pastor, you get to be there in moments like that. It’s been such a joy watching over 2,000 of our people go on mission trips each year—that’s more than half of the church—and seeing 140 people called into full-time ministry. There’s been so much joy in seeing that and being a part of that.

The interview with Wright started just like it ended—with prayer. As he prepares for what lies ahead, Wright is aware that he will be handing JFBC over to another pastor, but he’s even more aware that JFBC is not his church—she belongs to God, and He will continue to sustain her.

By / Apr 13

Lend your voice by signing onto the brief before April 23.

The Ministerial Housing Allowance is under legal attack. A federal court in Wisconsin struck down this tax exemption as unconstitutional, and the case is now on appeal at the Seventh Circuit.

Pastors, you have the unique opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue by signing onto Alliance Defending Freedom’s friend-of-the-court brief.

For decades now, pastors across the country have benefitted from the ministerial housing allowance. This allowance permits “ministers of the Gospel” to exclude from their gross taxable income a rental allowance paid to them as part of their compensation package.

But that tax exemption is now under threat. An activist atheist group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed a lawsuit claiming that the minister’s housing allowance violates the Establishment Clause. They filed a similar case a couple years ago, but ultimately lost on procedural grounds. This time around, it’s the real deal. We expect the federal appeals court to consider head-on the constitutionality of the ministerial housing allowance exemption.

The exemption is certainly constitutional. It does not threaten to “establish” religion or impermissibly favor religion in violation of the Establishment Clause. It accommodates religion. And it keeps the government from excessively entangling itself with the affairs of church. Alliance Defending Freedom will make these arguments in its brief.

But pastors, it is also important that the court hears your voice. You and your church will feel the brunt of this decision if the ministerial housing allowance is struck down.

Of the estimated 375,000 churches in America, as many as half are congregations of less than 80 members. For many small or poorer churches, this tax exemption makes the difference between existing and extinction. Many churches cannot afford to pay their pastor a living wage, so the pastor relies heavily on the housing exclusion to reduce his family’s tax burden and make ends meet. Without the exemption, some churches would be forced to close and their pastors leave the ministry.

Take one pastor in central California, for example. He was called to pastor a small church of 40 members in a financially depressed area with a high unemployment rate. The only form of compensation the church could offer was a housing allowance. And he graciously agreed to serve this small, needy population.

This spring, you have the opportunity to communicate to the court the importance of this tax benefit to carrying out gospel ministry. It is important that the Seventh Circuit hear from thousands of pastors across the country, expressing how important this tax benefit is to their mission.

Alliance Defending Freedom is filing a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of America’s pastors. As part of our Church Alliance mission, we equip, empower, and advocate for churches across the nation. Our mission is to help keep the doors open for the spread of the gospel, and one of the ways we do that is by strategically filing friend-of-the-court briefs in key cases that shape the legal landscape.

To advocate effectively on your behalf, we are looking for thousands of churches across the country to sign onto our brief. We want the Seventh Circuit to know that its decision in this case will impact not only churches in its jurisdiction, but ultimately pastors and churches across the nation.

Join us, by signing onto the brief before April 23.

By / Nov 22

I first met Tim Keller 11 years ago. I believed it then, and I still believe it now—he is the best English-speaking Christian preacher, thinker, and visionary of our time. And yet, having also gotten to serve “up close” under his leadership, there are other things about Tim that endear him to me, even more than these things. I suppose that now is as good a time as any to tell about them, because that’s what you do when one of your mentors announces such a significant transition (Tim announced his retirement from pastoral ministry this past summer). So here are a few important things that Tim’s example has taught me:

1. First, in this weird and troubling age of Christian celebrity where platform-building, fame-chasing, green room-dwelling, and name-dropping can easily replace gospel virtues, Tim Keller inspired me with his reluctance to participate in or even flirt with the trappings of Christian celebrity. He never chased the spotlight. He never tried to make a name for himself. The counsel of Jeremiah to his secretary, “Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not” (Jer. 45:5), seemed like a life philosophy for Tim as well. Always shy about himself and boastful about Jesus, his ambition is to advance Jesus’ kingdom spiritually, socially, and culturally—whether through Redeemer or (notably) through promoting and supporting other churches and leaders.

2. Second, Tim Keller waited until he was almost 60 years old to publish his first trade book. Humbly, he wanted to wait until he was old and wise enough to write the best possible book he could on any given subject. No doubt, his book writing pace since then has made up for lost time.

3. Third, in a time of posturing, comparing, and competing—a time when many pastors see each other as obstacles to overcome versus kingdom co-laborers to pray for and applaud—Tim has always been the latter. Instead of trying to position Redeemer as New York’s Walmart of churches that would swallow up “the competition” with its superior offerings, Tim consistently leveraged time, resources, and energy to build a church planter training organization through which to bring more church planters, and with them more churches, into the city of New York. He was happy to see other NYC pastors succeed and other NYC churches thrive, even if it meant that Redeemer’s “slice of the pie” might become smaller as a result.

Tim Keller never had a market share mentality about Christians in his city, and he never targeted members of other churches, either overtly or covertly, so as to lure them to his own church. Instead, he focused on reaching the unreached, paying special attention to the skeptic and the seeker. If someone left Redeemer for another church, rather than getting snippy or defensive about it, Tim would say something like, “Well, that’s a good thing. It’s going to make [that church] that much stronger. And that’s what we want—for all the churches in New York to be stronger. Redeemer is a sending church, after all, and this includes sending some of our best members to other NYC area churches.”

4. Fourth, even though Redeemer grew and grew (and grew and grew and grew) under his gifted leadership, Tim never embraced the mindset of “bigger and bigger.” Rather, he emphasized quality of ministry over quantity of seats filled (ironically, it is virtually impossible to find a seat at the typical Redeemer service). Early on, his and Kathy’s vision was to plant and pastor a small to medium-sized church in a single neighborhood of Manhattan, with maybe 350 or so people as their community. They never aspired for Redeemer to become a megachurch. Instead, they preferred to be one of many contributors to a broader movement of churches and denominations that would, together, serve their city.

Even now, they talk about their hope that the future Redeemer under the leadership of four congregational pastors—David Bisgrove, Abe Cho, John Lin and Michael Keller—will emerge into a movement that is not mega, but rather a network of numerous, well-contextualized, mid-size churches that serve New York’s many unique neighborhoods. Tim is finishing pastoral ministry with the same mindset with which he started—not to turn Redeemer into a great church, per se, but rather to participate as contributors to a broader movement to make NYC a great city that resembles the City of God.

5. Fifth, as Tim’s influence grew over the years, so did his dependence on and personal engagement with the hidden, ordinary graces, such as daily Scripture reading and prayer. His long-time habit is to pray through Psalms every month and read the entire Bible every year. He also maintains, at age 66, a youthful posture of learning that has him reading about 150 books per year. The prayer that I began praying for myself when I began writing books and serving as pastor of Christ Presbyterian, “Lord, give me character that is greater than my gifts, and humility that is greater than my influence,” was inspired chiefly by what I saw up close in Tim.

6. Sixth, Tim and Kathy have a strong marriage. They live their lives together and not separate—face-to-face in friendship, and side by side in mission; and that makes such a difference. Rumor has it that they speak Tolkien’s elvish language to each other in the privacy of their home (yes, they have some quirks). One of their favorite things to do is read and discuss books together. A little-known fact is that Kathy is equally as smart as Tim, if not smarter. As I understand it, Tim graduated [second] in his class at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. The person who graduated [at the top of the class] was Kathy. No wonder their kids are all so intelligent. It is rumored by some that Kathy is the ghostwriter for Tim’s sermons (not really, but she could be). And yet, Tim holds his own. The man can write a book faster than most of us can read a book.

7. Seventh, and as I have mentioned before, Tim Keller is one of the best examples I have seen of covering shame with the gospel. In five years of serving under his leadership, never once did I see him tear another person down to their face, on the Internet, or through gossip. Instead, he seemed to always assume the good in people. Occasionally, he would talk about how having the forgiveness and affirmation of Jesus frees us to “catch people doing good” instead of looking for things to criticize or be offended by. Even when someone had truly done wrong or been in error, Tim would respond with humble restraint and self-reflection instead of venting negativity and criticism.

Like the grace of God does, Tim Keller covered people’s flaws and sins, including mine on more than one occasion. He did this because that’s what grace does—it reminds us that in Jesus we are shielded and protected from the worst things about ourselves. Because Jesus shields us like this, we of all people should restore reputations versus destroying reputations, protect a good name versus calling someone a name, shut down gossip versus feeding gossip, and restore broken relationships versus begrudging broken people.

8. Finally, Tim Keller could receive criticism, most of which came from the outside and was almost always unfair, and it would bring out the best in him rather than bringing out the worst in him. By his words and example, he taught me that getting defensive about criticism rarely, if ever, leads to healthy outcomes. He also taught me that our critics, including the ones who mischaracterize and falsely accuse us as pastors, can sometimes be God’s instruments to teach and humble us as persons. In Tim’s words from one of my favorite essays of his:

First, you should look to see if there is a kernel of truth in even the most exaggerated and unfair broadsides . . . So even if the censure is partly or even largely mistaken, look for what you may indeed have done wrong. Perhaps you simply acted or spoke in a way that was not circumspect. Maybe the critic is partly right for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, identify your own shortcomings, repent in your own heart before the Lord for what you can, and let that humble you. It will then be possible to learn from the criticism and stay gracious to the critic even if you have to disagree with what he or she has said.

If the criticism comes from someone who doesn’t know you at all [and often this is the case on the internet], it is possible that the criticism is completely unwarranted and profoundly mistaken. I am often pilloried not only for views I do have, but also even more often for views [and motives] that I do not hold at all. When that happens it is even easier to fall into a smugness and perhaps be tempted to laugh at how mistaken your critics are. “Pathetic . . .” you may be tempted to say. Don’t do it. Even if there is not the slightest kernel of truth in what the critic says, you should not mock them in your thoughts. First, remind yourself of examples of your own mistakes, foolishness, and cluelessness in the past, times in which you really got something wrong. Second, pray for the critic, that he or she grows in grace.

A decade or so ago, I moved with my family to New York City thinking I was going to get to serve alongside and learn from one of the greatest preachers and visionary leaders of our time. Indeed, I did get to do that, along with a few others. But even more than this, the man gave me (and us) what McCheyne said is the most important thing a minister can give to his people—his own holiness. For me, Tim’s life has painted notable pictures of integrity that exceeds  imperfections, character that exceeds giftedness, prayerfulness that exceeds pragmatism, others-centeredness that exceeds personal ambition, generosity that exceeds personal comfort, and humility that exceeds (even a stellar) impact.

And now, Tim is beginning to paint for us a picture of what it can look like to finish well. He is providing glimpses of what it can look like to say with one’s life and not merely with one’s lips, “I am, and always have been, unworthy to untie the straps on Jesus’ sandals. He must increase, and I must become less.” And yet, in becoming less, the man is becoming more. For as the man himself has said in sermons, “The less we presume to act like kings, the more like kings we shall be.”

Thank you, Tim, for helping me want to be a better pastor, communicator, and leader. Even more than this, thank you for helping me want to be a better man. I know that you’re not done running the race just yet, and that there is more to come from you in the training and equipping context. But I’m still going to miss you, sir.

This tribute is an excerpt from Scott Sauls’ new book, “From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership.” Used by permission from David C. Cook.

By / Sep 20

When a pastor is burning out, many times a board of elders or deacons form a support system. Often, it’s his spouse that watches out for him. But, who cares for the pastor’s spouse?

According to a LifeWay Research survey released recently on pastors’ spouses, most turn to their husband or wife when stressed, and few feel like they can turn to members in the church.

While a strong 85 percent of survey respondents said that they are “satisfied with their life,” nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of those surveyed turn to their spouse when stressed, and more than half feel that they do not have enough friends that they are emotionally connected to, or around whom they can just “be ourselves.”

“The deepest truth is that what I really want is friendship,” writes Christine Hoover, author of Messy Beautiful Friendship and a pastor’s wife in Charlottesville, Virginia. “I’m surrounded by lovely people and countless relationships, but relationships don’t always equate to friendship, and I tend to forget that.”

Part of this disconnect seems to be a lack of trust of church members. Half of those surveyed said they couldn’t confide in church members about personal struggles since their “confidence has been betrayed too many times” and feared that honest prayer requests would become fodder for gossip. Most of those struggling in this area were younger women raising children, the survey found. 

“There’s a pressure for pastor’s wives to know everyone, because in most churches everybody knows the pastor and the pastor’s wife and their family. I think maybe sometimes the pastor’s wife tends to put the pressure on herself to know everyone,” Kristie Anyabwile, a writer and speaker, and wife of Anacostia River Church pastor Thabiti Anyabwile said in an interview with Hoover. “Sometimes it’s outside pressure, that she should know certain things about people’s lives.”

Anyabwile admitted that it’s hard to find a “ministry and marriage confidante” with whom she can safely share marital or family issues and trust that friend to still respect her husband. More than two-thirds of spouses surveyed reported that, “I have very few people I can confide in about the really important matters in my life.”

In general, survey respondents overwhelmingly responded positively about their lifestyle in ministry. Ninety percent of spouses said ministry has “had a positive effect on their family,” and 85 percent feel cared for by their church. Overall happiness and thriving often increased with strong personal relationships and marital and family life satisfaction.

Most pastors’ spouses (86 percent) are involved with church ministry, two-thirds of whom are serving in some way without pay. More than half of pastors’ spouses (53 percent) are employed outside of their church.

The survey, conducted over the summer, polled a random sampling of more than 700 Protestant pastors’ spouses, 96 percent of whom are women. More than half (56 percent) are spouses from evangelical churches, with 30 percent from mainline Protestant denominations and 1 percent from Black Protestant churches. It was sponsored by Houston’s First Baptist Church, the North American Mission Board and Richard Dockins, MD.

By / May 3

There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society.​

Things are different now. The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo.

–Martin Luther King, Jr., Letters from a Birmingham Jail

These prophetic and powerful words could have been true in any decade of American history. Sadly, this includes today. As a young boy growing up in the Chicago area, and learning of Dr. King’s work in that city, I’ve had a profound respect for him and his commitment to disturb the status quo. His influence has encouraged me to seek to break barriers as a pastor.

Building bridges to racial reconciliation

In 2016, I was called as lead pastor of the Sojourn Community Church Midtown congregation. Sojourn is a predominately white church that is nestled in an inner city with a half-black, half-white demographic. I saw this as a unique opportunity for a vibrant church in the Southern Baptist Convention to model reconciliation and the unity of the Spirit.

The level of intensity and weightiness of this assignment has felt overwhelming at times. However, the Lord is gracious, and so are his people. Together, we press on as ministers of reconciliation and are looking to be faithful and pursue diversity with three goals in mind:

1. Our vision is to present our members “mature in Christ” as Paul preaches in Colossians 1:28. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. Part of presenting the body mature in Christ is helping them to see that in Christ, “there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythians, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col. 3:11).

This means being faithful to teach that God has already shattered the ethnic and class barriers in and through his Son's body. The “dividing wall of hostility” has been broken down. Multiethnic churches are God’s eternal purpose in Christ, and we must help our members to see that.

To develop a multiethnic, multicultural church, we must operate out of our identities, rather than our preferences.

In August 2009, I was able to practice this when I became interim pastor of a 148-year-old predominately African-American church in Louisville, Kentucky. The church is named Forest Baptist Church because the church’s founders were once slaves who used to gather in the forest to worship Jesus, away from their slave owners, as the “invisible institution.”

During my time there, the Lord brought the pastors of the church under deep conviction to obey the Great Commission by working toward having our congregation reflect the demographics of our community. Though the surrounding area was mostly African-American, it had a substantial Latino population.

Being committed to multiethnic ministry at Forest Baptist Church didn’t come without criticism. While the majority of our members were in support of our desire to reach every ethnic group in our neighborhood with the gospel, some were not. I was confronted by one member who aggressively asked, “Who gives you the right to have this black church welcome all these other people?”

My response was, “Jesus.” Diversity is his idea.

2. We want to build bridges as God’s church while we seek to grow as a multiethnic, multicultural congregation. As a church, we must be unapologetically committed to some core values to accomplish this. Inspired by Leonard Sweet’s Aqua Church 2.0, we’ve developed an acronym to explain what building bridges is all about.

Building into one another as family

Reconciliation is for all who believe

Inclusive corporate worship gatherings

Devoted to the Word

Guided by the Spirit

Empowered witness

Sacrificial servants and stewards

These core values help root us as a congregation and pursue diversity by giving our church a common language and pursuit. It helps us understand that the church isn’t a building—it is who we are.

Understanding who we are as a church is vital to the pursuit of diversity. This acronym is based on the five identities that we believe describe us: family, worshipers, disciples, witnesses and servants. To develop a multiethnic, multicultural church, we must operate out of our identities, rather than our preferences. Our identities are what unify us when our preferences threaten to divide us.

3. We want to be a burning movement. As we see with the church in Acts, we believe that God has called us, not to be stagnant and spiritually scarce, but to continuously sow seeds and look to expand his kingdom. So, pursuing reconciliation means that we reject the temptation to only target people who look and think like us.

We want to be a church on the move that’s impacting all demographics of our surrounding campuses, schools and neighborhoods, even reaching the nations, with the message of reconciliation. This message tears down all –isms: racism, classism, ageism, sexism, consumerism and more.

Pursuing reconciliation means that we reject the temptation to only target people who look and think like us.

If we are going to grow in diversity, we’ll also need to express the gospel in different ways that help people appreciate other cultures. If monoethnic and monocultural churches are serious about diversity, they will have to acknowledge their preferences while embracing new expressions throughout their ministry. This is hard and requires that a congregation that is shepherded with patience and wisdom.

Since Sojourn is located in a white and black area, one of the ways that we specifically model reconciliation is by having our founding pastor, who is white, share the pulpit with me. This gives our congregations a chance to see ethnically different pastors rightly divide the Word.

Since January 2016, we have also been intentional about diversifying our staff by bringing in a Latino worship director and partnering with our non-for-profit ministry to bring on another African-American pastor.

Overcoming challenges

The pursuit of diversity is not an easy path; if it were, multicultural churches would be the norm. The process is painful for pastors and congregants, alike. Not only does it challenge heart-level issues of prejudice, but it challenges lifelong preferences regarding music, expressiveness in services, preaching style and more.

We’ve faced significant challenges in this journey and certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are a few things we’ve tried to do to overcome obstacles along the way:

1. Shepherd your people toward diversity; don’t force it on them. Becoming a multicultural church is a journey. And when it comes to issues of race, people are in different places on that journey. Each person in your church has a story that shapes how they view the world.

For many in our context, the issue of race is only a political issue. Because of that, when we address issues of racism or have a service of lament for injustices going on in the world, we have been accused of “moving away from the gospel” or “becoming a liberal church.” So, in the pursuit of diversity, it is imperative that you gently shepherd your people to understand that diversity is actually at the heart of the gospel.

2. Listen to your people. Part of shepherding your people is having one-on-one conversations with them. The old pastoral adage is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I’ve had people send scathing e-mails and threaten to leave the church. But, instead of sending them our theological position paper on racial reconciliation, I’ve invited them to come to my office so I could listen to them. I’ve seen the eternal value in having personal conversations with people about diversity; listening has a way of disarming the hardest of hearts.

3. Ask for grace and forgiveness. Many of the challenges we’ve had to overcome are the result of the man in the mirror. Sometimes, as pastors, we’ve gone too fast or too slow and we’ve spoken too strong and too soft. I’m sure that everyone has been annoyed at some point. I sin and offend members, just as they sin and offend me. We all must depend on the same Savior. Yet, as a pastor, when you hurt people on this journey toward diversity, you should be the quickest to repent and ask forgiveness.


Many stipulate that by 2050, non-Hispanic whites will no longer be the majority in this country. From a pragmatic perspective, our churches must begin to take steps toward diversity now, or in the near future, we will be obsolete. We’ll become monocultural silos.

From a theological perspective, if our churches pray “on earth as it is in heaven,” yet don’t reflect—or worse, don’t care about—the portrait of heaven we’re given in Revelation 7:9, then I fear we will hurt our witness.

On the other hand, one of the greatest apologetics in the next 20 years will be multiethnic, multicultural churches. As cultural divides continue, and likely deepen, I believe people will ask “Why?” when they look at our churches and see blacks and whites, Hispanics and Asians, young and old, women and men, rich and poor, haves and have-nots, standing, living, laughing, weeping, walking— together—and worshipping the King of kings.

These will be the kinds of churches that will be, as Dr. King said, a thermostat that will transform the mores of society. And these are the kinds of churches we must strive to be.

By / Aug 25
By / Jun 13

A conversations between Russell Moore and Mark Dever at the SBC Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO on June 13th.

By / May 12

Dr. Russell Moore Explains 'What to Do When a Pastor Falls' to the Temptation of Sin on Let's Talk with Mark Elfstrand.

Listen here

By / Jun 1

In the culture, in the courts, even in casual conversation, it is increasingly obvious that we have lost sight of over 200 years of social and legal tradition that has secured our fundamental freedoms – namely, freedom of speech and religion. A new concept – that “sexual liberty” trumps religious freedom – has begun to impact churches, ministries, and Christians across this nation.

Alliance Defending Freedom and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission have partnered together to create this manual, meant to help you prepare for the legal intrusions some of your fellow believers and Christian leaders around the country have already faced, and for other threats on the near horizon.

*This is a downloadble pdf file

By / Mar 18

At this year's ERLC Leadership Summit on “The Gospel and Human Sexuality,” J.D. Greear will be speaking on “Mending Fences: The Gospel and Pastoral Care for Sexual Sin.” Greear serves as the lead pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

If you are interested in attending the Summit, go here.

At the ERLC Leadership Summit, you will be speaking on “Mending Fences: The Gospel and Pastoral Care for Sexual Sin”. Why is this an important issue for evangelical churches to consider?

Sexual sin is the place where the gospel intersects unbelievers most acutely. When we can show that sex is often the expression of our most deeply held idols, and that the gospel provides a better answer to the questions sex presents, we gain an audience with those who otherwise might have little interest in what we have to say. I have seen God use this issue to convert the unbeliever and transform the believer in ways few other issues have.

When you think about sexual sin, what is a key aspect of that issue that churches aren’t addressing adequately? Why is that the case?

Churches often treat extra-marital sex as simply disobedience to a “thou shalt not” command. While it is certainly that, it is much more. Churches need to go behind the overt manifestation of sin to the idolatrous roots that generate it As Paul Tripp says, “We worship our way into sin, we have to worship our way out of it.”

This conference seeks to apply the gospel to issues related to human sexuality. What are some ways the gospel relates to sexual sin? 

The gospel not only promises cleansing for the stain of sin. It also presents us with a love that is greater than the enticements of the flesh. The only way to overcome the power of sex over us is to discover the greater power in the gospel. The only way to be liberated from the allure of sexual sin is to be captivated by an even more beautiful treasure. God’s acceptance is the power that liberates us from sexual sin, not the reward for having liberated ourselves.

If evangelical churches transformed the way they handled the subject of sexual sin, how would it reshape their congregations?

Quite simply, many church members would begin to feel like the pastor understands what is going on in their heart. The unbeliever who comes to the church in 1 Corinthians 14:25 has the secrets of his heart revealed, and says, “Surely God is among you!” When we can preach about the idolatry of sex—and the pain that it causes—winsomely, we reveal the secrets of the heart and elicit a similar response today. I have always aimed to preach like a counselor that can open up the depths of the gospel on one hand and the human heart on the other—and apply the beauty of the former to the dysfunction of the latter.

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