Read the Transcript from the APN Pastors Conference Call on “Preaching in Perilous Times”
The American Pastors Network held a special Pastors’ Conference Call on Thursday, September 6 to focus on the important topic of preaching, especially in a secular culture regarding issues that must be addressed from the pulpit.
Dr. Keith Wiebe: Vice President of State Chapter Development, hosted the call.
Participants in the call were as follows:
Hon. Sam Rohrer: President, American Pastor Network, Pennsylvania Pastors Network
Dr. Gary Dull: Pastor: Faith Baptist Church of Altoona, PA
Dr. Nathan Crockett: Professor, Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC
Dr. Joe Green, Pastor: Antioch Assembly in Harrisburg, PA
Pastor Mike Frazier: Canton Baptist Temple in Canton, OH
To listen to the recorded conference call, please click HERE.
Below is the transcript from the recorded conference call. We have done our best to edit this transcript for readability, however, not all grammatical issues were changed in order to keep the originality of the thought or personality of the speaker intact.
Keith Wiebe: …As again, I mentioned a minute ago there are plenty on this call that could bring plenty to the table when we start to talk about preaching. Never met a pastor I don’t think that wasn’t passionate about preaching. All of us could think of any number of passages of Scripture that talk about preaching. One that I go to often in my mind is one that you’re familiar with, it’s the Nehemiah chapter 8. They had finished building the wall and 8:1 says, when they had done that all the people gathered together as one man and they made a platform for Ezra the scribe. Nehemiah was the government official in this thing, Nehemiah was also a general contractor but I would submit to you that when they came ready to really make sense of the whole thing they called on the preacher.
I don’t mind telling you that I think that applies today, I would submit that it was probably the preachers the pastors in revolutionary days that really enabled our founding fathers to make sense of everything that was going on and everything that they had to do. I would submit to you that in our culture today it requires preachers of the gospel, faithful men in their pulpits who are making sense for their people from God’s Word out of what is going on in the culture. 8th chapter of Nehemiah chapter one and says in the fourth verse, and Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose and then they listed a number of people that were standing beside him. Verse 5, Ezra the preacher opens the book in the sight of the people for he was above all the people and you opened it.
As he opened it, all the people stood and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God and all the people answered “Amen” then at the end of verse 7 after listening again to names of some of Ezra’s assistants, it says they helped the people understand the law and they read from the law of God clearly and they gave the sense so that the people understood the reading. God, has called us to a great task of making sense to our people of the Word of God and we’re here today to talk about that. I’m going to open in prayer and then I’m going to introduce you to several men that we’re going to hear from who come at this business of preaching from different places. Different perspectives, different backgrounds and different surroundings and I think we’re all going to learn something. Let’s pray together. Heavenly Father we thank you for your word, we thank you so for the absolute authority that it gives to us. For the guidance, we thank you that we have in your Word your mind, your words and those are the things that we as preachers of your Word need to impart to the people to whom we preach.
I pray that this call will be profitable for all of us. I pray it will be encouraging. I pray that it will be something that all of us learn from. Thank you for each person who is on the call and the place they occupy and thank you, in Jesus name, Amen.
Several on the call. Sam Rohrer is the founder and president of the American Pastors Network, we’re going to hear from him first. Gary Dull has pastored for 40 years Faith Baptist Church in Altoona Pennsylvania he also serves as one of the co-hosts from their Stand and The Gap Today radio broadcast, that’s the daily radio program for the American Pastors Network. Nathan Crockett serves as the director of ministerial students. Nathan I don’t think I got your title right but that’s what you do. He’s in charge of training the ministerial students at Bob Jones University.
Nathan, you’re probably the youngest person on the call and when I’m in the presence of younger people they often seem to fee, at least, like they impart the most wisdom. I’m speaking facetiously, of course. I know that you will impart plenty to us. Joe Green is the pastor of … Joe give me the name of your church I’m drawing a blank.
Joe Green: The name of the church is Antioch Assembly in-
Keith Wiebe: Antioch.
Joe Green: Pennsylvania.
Keith Wiebe: Yes, I couldn’t think of the word Antioch, I had assembly. Antioch Assembly in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. It’s a multi-ethnic ministry it is really an exciting ministry you’re going to love hearing from Joe and then Mike Frazier is Pastor of The Canton Baptist Temple in Canton, Ohio and you may be familiar with it as also the home of the Christian hall of fame. He also serves as the pastor of my wife’s entire family and I’m not sure what that means, one of my nephews is one of his deacons, so perhaps that helps out. We’re going to hear from each one of these from just a little different perspective. Sam I’m going to ask you to start. Why is it the American Pastors Network, why not the American Church Network? Why the focus on pastors?
Sam Rohrer: All right Keith, that’s great and I want to echo what Keith has said and thank you all for being on today. We really believe as a part of the pastor’s network that when it comes to addressing the clear needs that we are seeing across this country. The needs of our families, the need of our communities, our churches the nations that we need to be on the same page that God is and not try to create some kind of human recipe or roadmap for success but look and say, “What does God say about it?” I became personally convinced when God called me into the … As a minister of God in government years ago and then called me to preach and gave me opportunity at that point that from that perspective as a minister of God, Romans 13 and then looking at God’s plan for all over, a blessed society; it doesn’t start with that person in government it starts with that person in the pulpit. Because it’s the preaching of the Word that changes hearts, that changes lives that can bring understanding that Keith talked about there with Ezra.
Understanding to the people of biblical principles and God’s plan. If that does not happen then we have where we understand that my people perish for a lack of knowledge and it’s in that context that God led a group of us to think, what should we do? Where should we place the attention in these most difficult days? Well it’s not in office, although that is something of which we need to be concerned, it is in the pulpit. It’s always been the pulpit. When I read in Jeremiah and I see where God talks about the pastors that have led their sheep and their flock astray because they have gotten off mark. I said, Well it’s exactly where we are today. Our focus as American Pastors Network therefore is on the pulpit. It’s on the church, we’re on the church age, we know that but it’s on the pulpit. God calls people individually and ordains those positions of authority and every one of you on here you know what I mean and it is a high calling.
Our belief and the burden that God laid on our heart was to try to do what we could do to provide a structure and a platform by which those individuals understanding the true calling of God and understanding the true duty and responsibility to lead and to guide and to feed their sheep and feed the people could stand together help each other and to understand the importance in these days of communicating the whole counsel of God which starts with the gospel message that is the whole cover, the whole aspect of Scripture from front to back and that’s how to live, that’s how to think, that’s how to act as parents, as moms and dads as children. I’ll conclude with this, we have been greatly encouraged that as we have moved forward and God has continued a growing foundation that more and more and more of the secular press and others generally come and say, what’s your opinion? What do you as pastors think about such and such?
I’ll conclude with this, we have guys like George Barna who we have in our program a lot, who does his research. Who then comes back and quantifies the fact that our churches are filled full of people who think they are going to heaven but have never had a relationship with Jesus Christ. We know the seriousness of where we are and when we know from him that 92% of those in our pews are hungry for our pastors to preach biblical principles, a biblical worldview applied to the issues of life. The things that face us, face our children, face our culture, face us as we live but only 9% in the pulpit will do it, we understand the challenge. I just really am thankful for all of you who I know do understand that our preaching and teaching and that’s why we want to hear more about here this morning because you’ve seen a lot over a lot of years and I think it’s our collective experiences and wisdom that I hope to come forth on this call today.
That God can use both this live session and the recorded session as we can use it later for help and instruction for many, many others who are not on this call. That is basically the premise that’s the mission and Keith, on its way back to you.
Keith Wiebe: Thanks, Sam. Yesterday I spoke, I think with all of you individually except for you, Nathan, and I was excited that when I finished with the depth of what you’re going to be sharing, the quality of what it is and the absolute importance of it. Gary Dull, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Altoona you’ve been pastoring for 40 years, you’ve been at this for a long time. I’m going to ask you … I’ve asked all of these men by the way to be concise and to the point. Tell us how preaching has changed over the years. Now I don’t mean the message, we’re going to stipulate for the sake of this call that the message has not changed. Again, George Barna’s research tells us that only 30% of pastors actually believe in the absolute authority of Scripture. I got to tell you that blows my mind I don’t understand what the rest of them are doing in ministry but stipulating that the message hasn’t changed Garry, how has preaching changed?
Gary Dull: Well, Keith, it’s a delight to be on with you and the rest of the men today and yes I was saved on July 17th, 1964 and preached my first public sermon on July 18th, 1964, so you can do the math. Why the fellow who led me to the Lord at a camp had me preaching within 15 hours of when I got saved, I will never know but God used that to thrust me into a preaching ministry that’s gone on down through the years. I appreciate Keith you emphasized Nehemiah chapter 8 because when it comes to our responsibility we realize the significance of preaching and I often think of 1st Corinthians chapter one where the word of God says, “For after that in the wisdom of God, the world, by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” The world doesn’t understand preaching and preaching as we know it is unique to the Christian faith but it’s that which God has chosen to bring people to Christ and to bring people in Christ.
I think of Paul’s challenge to Timothy in 2nd Timothy 4:2 where he says, preach the word. Be instant in season out of season reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. You asked the question, how has preaching changed? Well, God’s concept of preaching has never changed, God’s message to the preacher has never changed but one of the things that concerns me Keith is that down through the years a lot of preaching has become what I refer to as a ‘cupcake’ sermon. In other words preachers will walk into the pulpit and they will preach that which looks good, sounds good, maybe even tastes good but it has very, very little spiritual nourishment. I’m very, very concerned about that because I think that we need to do as Paul said, preach good sound doctrine and some of these ‘cupcake’ sermons out there today do not do that.
Keith Wiebe: Gary, that says it very well, so the preaching has changed to ‘cupcake’ sermon, that’s a good analogy how has the audience changed? Are there expectations interests what they want changed? What will they need … When will that need if not change but has the audience changed over the years?
Gary Dull: Yes, the needs have not changed the needs will never change from generation to generation because of their spiritual aspect of the individual’s life are all aboard in sin. We all need a Savior and we all need to grow but this is my observation, Keith, and I began pastoring in February of 1974 and when I started out there was a lot of interest in sound doctrine from the pew. People wanted sound doctrine, they wanted to know really what does the Bible say and of course we understand the doctrine if you want to generalize it simply is the teaching of who God is, what God expects and how God operates. What I have found down through the years is that people in the pew have gotten away from the desire to have sound doctrine preached to them. They’re more interested in having messages that teach them how to do this and how to do that which really those things are good and those things come by way of practical application but if doctrine is not first of all established in their hearts and minds of people then living is not going to be right.
Right doctrine breeds right living and I fear that over the years that the people are in the pew have gotten away from the desire of sound doctrine and want more of that which makes them feel better or teaches them how to do things and consequently I think that when you follow that out, it leads to a weakened church, it leads to a weakened Christian it leads to a weakened family.
Keith Wiebe: No question Gary, I think that we are dealing today with a weakened church. We talked about how preaching has changed into‘cupcake’ sermons, talked about how the audience has changed over the years. Nathan you’re involved with a front end of this whole process of training young preachers, sending out … I’m so far away from being a young preacher I probably don’t understand what the questions are any longer but tell me what would you consider to be what the challenge that you face in training young preachers, taking these young men that come to you, that you want to go out and pastor churches, they want to preach the word of God. What kind of challenges do you face in molding their thinking and molding their preaching?
Nathan Crockett: Sure, and I appreciate being called young I’m 38 and at my church, I’m around a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds so I’m double the age so I’m used to them thinking of me as the old guy. Due to balding early, my older brother Josh is a year older than me and people practically think he’s my son when we’re together because I look so much older than him.
Keith Wiebe: Just compare yourself to me and Gary and you’ll feel great.
Nathan Crockett: I’ll feel younger, good. I would say a number of things and one would be just particularly, when they come as freshmen even coming to a great university like Bob Jones we’re amazed at how … I’ve been teaching here since 2003 and even from 2003 to 2018 it seems like their lack of biblical understanding. I’m noticing more and more of that in a New Testament messages class tell them to turn to a certain passage and their fumbling around partly because they are used to the cell phone. They have the Bible on their cell phone but to actually know the books of the Bible in order to know things that seem very basic, or to come to study for ministry who have not read all the way through the Bible yet when they first come and we’re getting them to read through the Bible every year. Just an understanding of really what Scripture says. Before you can preach God’s word to others you have to understand it yourself and I think although I would disagree with a lot of what he did, but John Stott’s book on preaching between two worlds, where he talks about having a foot in Scripture in that world and having a foot in the world you’re preaching to and you are the conduit of that message between them.
They maybe come in as 17 or 18 year old who’s very familiar with the world in which they live, they know the names of the current movies, they’re up to date on all of that but they have to understand the world of the Bible and actually have biblical knowledge and biblical content and biblical understanding to actually be able to get that information to the audience that they’re preaching to. Another concern and this would be the case with people of any age but just as a purity of life that you don’t want to feel hypocritical as you’re standing and preaching to others if you know that you have major issues in your own life. I think for some men it may even … God may be calling them to preach but they may almost resist that call because they don’t want to … They understand that if they’re going to preach they should set themselves to a really high standard and there’s the flesh in them that resists that.
Keith Wiebe: Nathan, you bring this young man in who lacks biblical understanding. I love the foot in two worlds analogy, that is so good. I’m sure that many of these young men have struggled with purity of life just given the culture that we live in. When they come out at the other end of the shoot and they leave the security of the structure of educational and atmosphere and they go out into ministry. Maybe this is too broad a question. What do you want him to look like? What do you want that preacher to be like? What kind of heart, focus do you see for him?
Nathan Crockett: Good question. A lot of that is what we’d want for every student and is they love God and love others. In addition to that we want … Many of the young men will go on to seminary. It’s one of the things that we’re recognizing, is a lot of students that will come planning to be a preacher will actually major in history or accounting or speech undergrad planning to go on to seminary. I’m actually… here, in about an hour and a half going to be preaching in ministry chapel. One day a week we have a separate chapel just for those who feel called to full time ministry whether they’re a Bible major or not. I lead that chapel each week and I’m actually speaking for it this week that was about 600 in there while a couple of other thousand other students are in the university chapel. Not all of those are Bible majors. Many of them are majoring in history or accounting. Some of them wanting to get to a mission field and if they put missionary or pastor on their visa it will get denied.
They’re trying to get into a creative access country. I also think that probably in a day when you went to Bob Jones they were probably … It was almost a privilege, like I’m a preacher boy that was something that people wore as a badge of honor. In our day maybe because of the internet. We see so many preachers who’ve fallen into sin or who’ve plagiarized sermons or any number of things that it’s almost … If someone is a Bible major almost like they’re reluctant to tell people that. We would want them going away, graduating as a student from Bob Jones, just being overwhelmed with the privilege of preaching God’s word to other people. I was just preaching at a school camp last weekend. Just thinking about how privileged I am at the different camps I spoke at this summer. I tell guys sometimes, their freshmen year. I say you’re probably scared and you’re nervous and you feel like you’re not sufficient for these things and if so you’re in the right place because…
Look at what Paul says in II Corinthians, “None of us are sufficient for these things.” Man, there is something to aspire to that God could actually use you with all of your flaws and all of your failures; God can use you to stand behind a pulpit and proclaim His Word to people who desperately need to hear it. I think about times particularly at teen camps where I just stand up and preach God’s Word- no pressure, no heavy handed invitation but just a piano playing ,”Just as I am” and to watch teenager after teenager after teenager crying and come forward to get saved. To think God did that, but I had a privilege for a few minutes somehow with all my flaws to be his mouthpiece. That’s remarkable. We want them to come out being overwhelmed with the privilege of ministry that it is a high calling, it’s a ‘Dangerous Calling’ a recent book by Paul Tripp about that, something to highly appreciate it.
It’s not that we’re saying that a Bible major or a pastor is somehow better than an accountant or whatever God calls all of us to specific tasks but he gives specific qualifications Titus 1 and 1st Timothy 3. For someone who’s going to full time as their vocation be a minister of his word. That’s incredible privilege. Not to take lightly, not to preach a cup of cakes sermons but to let the weight of that sink in. That weight that we have in our shoulders that we speak for deity. It’s remarkable.
Keith Wiebe: Nathan that’s such a good thing. For those of us who’ve been in the trenches for a long time to remember that preaching the word of God is an absolutely incredible privilege with which we should be overwhelmed. Never taking it for granted, never just a sense of I got to do it again Sunday is coming. The incredible privilege of … I used to think. In fact I used to tell my people, I said I spent a lot of time over weeks studying to preach. The amazing thing is you’re all pay me to do this. That is truly a wonderful thing. Joe, I know for you it’s a great privilege. You pastor Antioch Assembly there in Harrisburg, a multiethnic congregation. I think you told me yesterday that’s an accurate description of it. Give me an overview. Your ministry; I love the perspective that you have. Tell us a little bit about reaching out to some of those you’re in a downtown city almost inner city kind of a setting there. Multiethnic, multicultural setting of people there. Describe the preaching burden that God has given you.
Joe Green: Yeah. It definitely is a burden the Lord puts in your heart. As you guys know whenever he puts that burden people on the outside may not see it right away. You know without a shadow of a doubt that it’s something you can’t escape. Our motto we got a multicultural, multiethnic church as you mentioned, ministry I should say. Our motto is to promote and protect the image of God. I believe that that’s our calling and the church’s calling as a whole. As we examine the image and the likeness of God which we are made in, I look at the trinity God the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit which includes unity in the midst of diversity. I’m always careful to mention unity in the midst of diversity and not unity in spite of diversity because a lot of times when we come together from a multicultural perspective we want to take the person out of their cultural experience and background and make them more like us.
We might say, “Hey, we’re one.” But God created us differently and created us unique. He wants us to be unified and to embrace those unique characteristics and traits that he’s given us. God’s desire for the church is on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven we saw the scripture in Revelation that every tribe, every tongue will come together and worship the Lamb of God. I believe in this season especially with all the racial divide that we see in mainstream media and in the culture that we have to be intentional and proactive as a church. That’s what we try to do. Be intentional and proactive and trying to fulfill that image of unity and diversity to reach across cultural and ethnic and even generational lines in order for us to fulfill God’s picture of his body here on the earth. From a preaching perspective, I never want to assume because we have people from so many various backgrounds. I never want to assume what the person knows theologically or culturally.
I spent a couple of moments in the beginning of every sermon laying a common foundation. Sometimes I’ll explain myself ahead of time. I say I’m not trying to be pandering or patronizing or over simplematic. I want us to all begin from a common place of start. Let us have a common understanding as we move forward in the message. It has really helped us because it helps us to unify because I do know that many people come from backgrounds where they may not especially in this day and time, they may not have the level of biblical literacy that … I know of Mr. Barna. Mr. Barna would attest to that as well, that the church isn’t as biblically literate as they definitely should be, I believe.
Keith Wiebe: That’s a tremendous thing Joe. I like what you said about laying a foundation, not assuming biblical literacy, reminds me a bit of missionaries that go into the jungles and when they begin with a new group of people, they can’t start with a cross. They have to go back and start with creation. Where all they end up doing is those folks taking what they’re taking and adding it to an already corrupted belief system. We are increasingly coming to that place in our culture. Again you mentioned George Barna. His research bears that out. I know that also your words, that you are intentionally proactive to reach out for that diversity of other people that are around you. I think that’s a powerful message to us. Mike, you’ve been preaching a long time. I know that you recently were preaching a series of messages on a biblical world view. Sam mentioned the importance of a biblical world view for us as pastors at the front end of our time together. What led you to that series of messages? Why did you think that was important across your pulpit?
Mike Frazier: Well, I was sensing as a whole not only at our church but I think churches across America that there’s a little bit of a disconnect between what I would call Sunday Christianity and then their weekly Christianity. They might affirm a way of believing on Sunday but then often their lives do not reflect that biblical understanding throughout the rest of the week. I felt it very, very … Not only pertinent but critical to deal with the subject of having a biblical world view. I dealt with the importance of it, how to cultivate a biblical mindset. We talked about how a biblical world view all begins in Genesis chapter 1 and 2. Talked about how biblical world view helps you to understand the mess we’re in today all across America and in the world. Talked about a biblical world view and how it pertained to salvation. That’s where it all begins and how is a person saved. We dealt with some even controversial issues throughout the series of messages. We dealt with the gender identity crisis. We dealt with the separation of church and state and the importance of our kids having a biblical world view.
How really thinking biblically, really sets us apart from the rest of the world. It was Jesus who said in John 17:17 sanctify them through thy truth. The idea of sanctifying is to set apart, to distinguish to mark them what marks them, well truth. Thy word is truth. If we can get our people to think biblically, we can get them to live biblically. I always tell my people I am here to try to change the way you think. I want to help you to think biblically. If I can help you to do that on Sunday and then to get you to live out the truth of God’s word throughout the rest of the week, I think we can truly be the salt of the earth and the light of the world that he’s called us to be. Often there’s this identity of being a Christian on Sunday but then suddenly a total disconnect.
They’re not understanding how does the word of God relate to me being a father or a mother or a husband or a wife or the way I work or the way I handle my money or so many different … The way I think about issues that America is facing. The way I vote and how it’s all connected together. A biblical world view ought to affect every aspect of our life to where my father-in-law pastored for many years. Often at the end of a service he would say, “Don’t forget to be a Christian seven days a week.” I think that the concept that so many are missing they’re a Christians on Sunday, and they embrace that identity of being a Christian then throughout the rest of the week there’s a total disconnect. I felt it very urgent to deal with this subject of the importance of having a biblical world view and how literally it affects every area of your life. That’s a little bit of the why behind the series.
Keith Wiebe: That’s very well said Mike. I want to follow up with you with another question here in just a minute but I also want us to prepare to open our line for you to raise some questions for anyone of our panel in general or to make an observation. I’m doing this a little earlier in these calls than I normally do because I’ve got a bunch of pastors on. Many of you I know, like I said at the outset will be very qualified to share as a part of this panel. Sam let me ask you, is there anything particularly special that our folks need to do if they want to get in a queue to raise a question?
Sam Rohrer: They just need to … I’m going to open it up in just a minute. Star six will always do it. If you’re ready Keith I’m going to go ahead and open it up right now. Then people can be set to begin on that.
Keith Wiebe: Okay you can do that, hit star six if you’d like to get in the queue or want to ask a question. Mike I want to follow up just a little bit with you where a biblical world … When you’ve addressed these issues from your pulpit what response … What’s the attitude from your people? What kind of feedback do you get? What kind of response do you receive?
Mike Frazier: Well, I had a lot of positive response from this particular series of messages. Now any time you begin to deal with some of the topics of politics or issues that are confronting our culture or society I always get a few people that give a little pushback. I don’t know that I’ve ever dealt with any political subject or a subject dealing with our country that I’ve not lost a few people. That just seems to be the almost want a complete distinction. In other words that’s something that you just need to deal with the bible, you don’t need to deal with the issues of our day. What they fail to realize is there is a connection between the bible and what is transpiring today and how we should live and how we should vote and how we should raise our children. All of that is not too separate worlds but it’s the world that we’re living in. as Christians it’s what makes us distinctively Christian. There’s always a little bit of pushback from those that feel like they just want to come and they want to hear a nice Bible story and nice message. They don’t really want that to change the way they think or change the way that they live on Monday.
As you well know that’s not New Testament Christianity. We have to confront them with the truth of God’s word. Throughout this series the whole emphasis was the most important question we should always ask in every area of our life is what does the Bible say? That, that should be our very first question. What does the Bible say? Not what does our world think. What do my peers think or what is the most comfortable or convenient way to go but what does the Bible say? I sense through this series, I mean as always there’s just like Amos Chapter 8. There’s a famine for the Word of God. People yearn to hear the Word. Somehow or other, we think, and there’s the popular notion today throughout the states behind the pulpit is that we have to entertain them somehow. I’m not saying our preaching should not be interesting and captivating and that we all work on that but I believe what they are really yearning for and what they truly need is solid Bible preaching and teaching.
That’s what we have made central to our whole ministry here at Canton Baptist Temple whether that’s from the pulpit or in our Sunday school classes or adult Bible fellowships or senior adult ministries, youth ministries, children ministries. It’s about imparting the truth of God’s Word to them on a consistent basis.
Keith Wiebe: That emphasis Mike is so needed. The famine, what does the Bible say particularly when in pulpits or some pulpits across America we’re being told that we make too much of the bible. We’re going to scare people away with doing that. Unhitch yourself from the Old Testament that it takes all different forms. Maybe you’d like to jump in. You’ve been listening to these guys and your interest has been piqued. You’ve got a question or a thought on your mind. Sam, do we have anybody in the queue? Let’s have a question.
Sam Rohrer: Let’s just … If we can Keith remind everyone again star six. If you want to ask a question hit star six. That will put you in the queue. Then I can acknowledge and then bring you up and highlight you at that point. Again comment or question from anyone star six.
Keith Wiebe: Star six. You go ahead. We’re going to recognize you. I’ve got a bunch of preachers on the line so there is not a problem whatsoever with keeping these guys talking. You go ahead and hit star six … We will go straight to their questions. Joe, I want to follow up with you just a little bit. I got a sense that you perhaps maybe more than a lot of the rest of us, are preaching to people whose biblical literacy level or where biblical truth and information is more new to them than maybe it is to a lot of the rest of our people. How do you find that they are receiving doctrine then? You lay the foundation like you said sometimes at the outset of a message you bring them up to speed. At some point you have to get to the ‘thus saith the Lord’ of Scripture. You have to get to the doctrine; you’ve got to get to things like justification, sanctification, propitiation, and the rest of them. Do you find that they come to a level of understanding an acceptance of those things?
Joe Green : They do. You just have to be … Like I said you have to not assume where they’re at. You have to be very intentional about connecting it to their experience. The reason I say that is because culturally in the inner city there’s a lot of issues. You have to … They recognize the brokenness a lot of times. They recognize that something is out of way. Many of them have been in churches where there hasn’t been a focus on biblical foundational teaching on holiness and different things like that. You have to make that connection. What I try to do is I try to do it from a historical and biblical perspective of how your culture has been affected by turning away from these principles and how there’s restoration, there’s reconciliation but more importantly there’s forgiveness in God’s grace and mercy at the cross. Which means even though we’re not focusing on where you’re at right now but how do we get to where God intended you to be.
When you demonstrate love and this connectedness that you have to develop with the people and they recognize that you love them and that God loves them and that he only wants the best for them, it makes it easier for them to open up their hearts to say, “Okay I know this is a difficult message I’m listening to but I know my situation is even more difficult. I know that the Bible gives me all the clues that … I shouldn’t say clues but I should say all the resolutions that I need to put my life together. You have to be very transparent about your testimony and your past as well so that they know you’re talking to them from a position of, “Hey, I’m here to help. Let me show you the way out.”
Keith Wiebe: That’s good. Nathan, I want to go to you for a minute with this whole doctrinal background. Do you find the deficiency doctrinally in some of these ministerial students who come to you? How important is it along the way to give them a good doctrinal foundation and help that be a priority for them as they get ready to out into the ministry?
Nathan Crockett: Well, it’s extremely important. I think a lot of times with the younger students, the freshmen sophomores; it’s more they’re not sure what they believe. I mean occasionally we’ll have some coming in from a church where they’ve maybe learned a wrong doctrine. Most of those types of students probably will not be coming to Bob Jones. I think most of those coming to Bob Jones have come from a really solid background. A lot of times they don’t know why they believe what they believe, they would believe in the trinity and so on but they weren’t really be able to defend that from Scripture perhaps. That’s one of the things that we work on. Even in the biblical core of the classes we teach at the university when students come typically their first semester they’ll take a class on Old Testament messages just to read the Old Testament. Here’s what’s in the Old Testament, here’s the theology in the Old Testament. Then second semester in their freshman year they’ll take New Testament messages where they’ll only get an overview of the New Testament.
Their second year they take Hermeneutics, that’s a class I teach. One of the things I like to do is try to give each student a nice study Bible. My wife and I do that just through the business the Lord has given us. They get a good study Bible. We just talk about how to study the Bible. Some of them say hermeneutics? It sounds like a disease. I say it’s just the science and art of biblical interpretation and we’re going to talk about how you study the bible. You’re first year, your freshman year you’re learning what’s in the bible, you’re sophomore year you’re learning how to study the bible and take in a bible elective. Then in your junior year basically systematic theology. We call it Bible doctrines one and Bible doctrines two. Where you go do the 10 major overview of doctrines? You start with bibliology. Here’s how we know God’s word is true. Here’s why it’s our authority and then you move on to theology proper.
Here’s the attributes of God, here’s the trinity and then you move on to Christology, that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man and so on. From there to pneumatology and anthropology, soteriology, and ecclesiology and ultimately eschatology. I think I left out hamartiology the doctrine of sin. You work your way first and second semester of your junior year through these 10 basic bible doctrines. You start with what’s in the bible. All the New Testament is reading through scripture, understanding that. How do I properly interpret that hermeneutics? Then Bible doctrines and then you have another elective your senior year then we end with apologetics. That’s a Bible core that all students would take. Even our Bible majors they’re taking many additional classes on preaching or polling letters but trying to follow that core where we’re not starting with an assumption that they know basic Bible doctrine because maybe they don’t. Maybe their pastor does, maybe their parents knew but it doesn’t mean that it’s actually been communicated to them or that they were really even listening.
It’s amazing as preachers I think we all know this. You can preach your heart out on something and a week later someone is struggling with that same issue or they’re asking that question. It’s kind of like maybe you weren’t there last Sunday, “No I was there.”
Nathan Crockett: Right exactly.
Sam Rohrer: Keith can I ask you a question here while we’re-
Keith Wiebe: Sure.
Sam Rohrer: For those who are on star six, star six if you want to give a question. I encourage you to comment, I see many pastors on here. You haven’t said anything. Feel free to do so. I’d encourage you to comment on things or statements that have been made that have connected or perhaps have a question for you, do that. I’d like to throw out something here. Mike you made a statement that I wrote down here. I put two asterisks beside it because I thought it was very, very, very critical. You said this if we can get our people to think biblically they will live biblically. Couldn’t agree more. Then the other and this was the real one that really caught my attention. You said, “My goal is I want to change the way you think.” I’d like to get some thoughts on that if others would have it. I will share something that made a real impression to me some years ago. When we first started APN, I was in a setting. I was speaking to a large group of pastors there was an old pastor there who was about 90 some and had been faithful for a long time.
After I shared what we were doing, some things and the role of the pulpit and all that. When we were all done he made a point of saying to me, he said, “Sam I agree so much with what you said.” He was so very good. He said but I think you left out the most important part. I thought, that’s interesting because I thought I had all the elements covered. He went right to the heart of what you said there Mike, change the way you think. He said this, preaching is persuasion. If you do not go into the pulpit with a clear goal of how you want to change the people’s thinking biblically, you’ve not preached. Connecting with that, I think it’s through the foolishness of preaching that we persuade men. It’s persuasion. I wonder how much of that is really understood because I think when I tie into that things that we know that when guiding sheep, knowing the flock, that if we don’t really know the flock, we don’t know really where they are and what they’re struggling with. It makes it very difficult to take them on a path of persuasion to think biblically.
We need to know what their needs are so we can move them and help persuade them to think biblically. I just want to throw that thought out there because I was one … If I look back just really changed the way that I think fully because it changes my purpose for going even doing anything. I’m persuading them about what? Biblical thinking is set that the more we define that the better off it is. Anyway I’d just put that thought out and then throw some comments out there.
Keith Wiebe: Very good. Some comments on that gentlemen or anybody else. Again star six. We’d love to have you join the conversation.
Gary Dull: Keith, may I just say something here with regard to that. I think that we need to understand that yes preaching is persuading people, there’s no doubt about that. We need to keep that in mind. If we’re not preaching to change people’s thinking by the end of that sermon then we need to ask ourselves the question why have we even walked into the scared desk. I like some of the testimony of the apostle Paul as he spoke to the Thessalonians. As a matter of fact I’ve often said that if you read down through 1st Thessalonians Chapter 2, you have what I believe to be not only his testimony but a challenge. To those of us who are pastors, those of us who are preachers, there’s a lot of practical application in there for us. In the fourth verse 1st Thessalonians 2 he said, “But as we are allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel even so we speak, not as pleasing men but God which tries our hearts.”
I think of that every time we walk into the pulpit. God is allowing us to do that. God has enabled us, has called us to be trustees of his word when we preach it, when we teach it. When we walk into that pulpit, we need to keep that in mind that it’s God who’s called us and is allowing us to be a trustee of his word. Therefore it’s important that we deliver it accurately and that we strive for the right result in the hearts of the people who listen. Then I also go back to 1st Thessalonians chapter 1 which I think is real key to seeing that persuasion coming to a reality. That’s where Paul again is Talking about coming to the Thessalonian he says for our gospel king not unto you in word only people. We can say a lot of words in the pulpit, we can say a lot of persuading words in the pulpit. We can preach the power of positive thinking in the pulpit, but he says our gospel came not unto you in word only but also in power and in the holy ghost.
In much assurance as you know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. The power that brings the persuasion that results in right living in the hearts of those who hear is the holy spirit. We must never forget that. We must allow the holy spirit to lead us in our preparation for preaching and for certain allow the holy spirit to empower us in the preaching of his word in the pulpit. When that’s done the effect will be what god wants it to be in the lives of many people. Not everybody will be open to hearing what the spirit of God says in our lives obviously, that we must never underestimate the significance and the importance of the holy spirit leading us in our preparation and leading us in our preaching so that that persuasion is exactly what God wants it to be for his glory in changed lives.
Sam Rohrer: Keith we have a call.
Keith Wiebe: Go ahead Sam.
Sam Rohrer: Okay we have a call that I have here, I’m just going to bring it up right now, it’s identified somebody calling in from Los Angeles so if I’m going to bring it up and ask you to go head Ma’am or sir, I can’t tell who it is.
Caller 1: Hi, my name is Henry Loza, I’m from Culver City California, West Los Angeles Christian Center and I’d like to know what is the difference between preaching and teaching and what is the significance of each?
Sam Rohrer: Keith?
Keith Wiebe: That’s a good question. One of our pastors could jump into that pretty quick. Nathan you probably have to leave pretty quick but you are the professor among us. Distinction between preaching and teaching.
Nathan Crockett: Sure. I actually read an article about that this morning called One Way to Make Sure Your Preaching a Sermon not Leading a Bible Study and it was by Tim Challies, maybe some of you follow his blog and he even says in the article that his tendency is more to really focus on Bible study and he loves studying out a passage but he’s certainly not the type to get into the pulpit and raise his voice or whatever and he says some people, I don’t even remember how much he talks about this, but basically some people think that if you say it loudly enough you’re preaching and if you say it monotone you’re teaching and probably some of that some of the best preaching that we’ve heard comes from people who don’t necessarily raise their voice that much. I think of my brother-in-law Dr Mark Minnick, if you’ve ever had his preaching it’s powerful preaching but he’s not your typical kind of evangelist.
He basically talks about the fact that Bible study or teaching is aimed at the head while preaching or sermon is aimed at the heart. In Bible study you’re really trying to increase typically someone’s knowledge of a passage whereas a sermon you’re trying to increase their holiness, their lifestyle. Bible study you’re looking at what does the passage say, in preaching you’re actually appealing to people to live out what a passage, says to actually put it in practice. If you think about Bloom’s Taxonomy that education majors are familiar with where you start at the bottom of the pyramid as knowledge and then you move up to comprehension you could quote John 3:16 that’s knowledge but comprehension is your actually understanding it and the third level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is application do you actually live this out. I often tell my students I say you could get a perfect score on this test, you could get a great grade in the class and you still could be a spiritual failure because the bible was not written to be known as the bible was written to be lived.
Preaching is getting at that living side of it. Tim Challies says one of the pastors at his church, he’s an assistant pastor has always told on pastoral staff that when they structure their sermons, they should actually make each point into an imperative so that … he has an example they’re going through Exodus or whatever and for a few doing a Bible study it might say, God warns Egypt or God protects his people or god punishes Egypt but if you’re preaching it you would say go with god or he will judge you. Go with god and stay safe, Go with god before judgment comes. You use more than imperative you would preach it, you would tell people what they need to change in their life. Teaching in a sense you’re feeling it the head with knowledge, preaching you’re asking them to make a life change. I would argue that all good preaching includes application you’re more likely to use the word you while you’re preaching as opposed to teaching.
I think we have to be careful because especially if we are geared towards teaching and you have an earned PhD or that kind of thing you can very easily have nice little homilies and people walk away saying, “Wow, I understand that passage better but they haven’t felt any force of conviction that their life actually needs to change. If you ever listen to sermons from Duke Divinity School or a Harvard you can have actually unbelievers delivering homilies explaining certain things about … Paul’s understanding of the doctrine of justification but it’s unbelievers. There’s no living breathing fire and power there and obviously there’s a place for good teaching in the church that often times many churches have a Sunday school hour where there are primarily focused on teaching. They’re not giving an invitation on that kind of thing but hopefully at some point on the Lord’s day we’re putting ourselves and a good preaching that’s helpful conviction and that’s aimed for life change.
Keith Wiebe: That is very, very well said Nathan and thank you from calling in from California. I appreciate you getting up earlier this morning probably than the rest of us to join us. We are very much in a battle and the verse in 2nd Corinthians chapter 11 comes to mind where Paul addresses a fear that really would be very contemporary. He said I’m afraid that as the serpent deceived eve by his cunning your thought and we’ve been talking about Mike, changing the way you think your thoughts should be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Translation renders that from the simplicity that is in Christ. Satan is trying to take away the truth that we’re trying to cast into the minds of our people. Sam, do we have any more questions or anyone else want to make a comment?
Sam Rohrer: We do not here at the moment. A couple have been on and then off whatever we don’t have anyone here right now but again anyone here who is still on star 6 to ask a question, star 6.
Mike Frazier: This is Mike Frazier again.
Keith Wiebe: Go ahead, Mike.
Mike Frazier: I wanted to connect again that whole idea of thinking biblically and living biblically. When your church at Antioch in the book of acts chapter 11 you know that Barnabas had Paul to come and to assist him there but in verse 26 it talks about how they spent a whole year assembling themselves with the church and taught much people. There was the pre-eminence of the preaching and teaching of the word of god there, helping them to think biblically and the result was at the end of that verse and the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. It resulted in the application of that truth to their lives to where biblical thinking the result was biblical living and they didn’t call themselves Christians but rather the community looked at their lives, noticed something totally different about the way they think and the way they live and they said, you are going to be called Christians, you’re going to be called followers of Christ.
In order to be like Jesus we have to think biblically and live biblically. We have a generation that’s like … They like the idea of being like Jesus that they detach that from the whole counsel of God’s word. For us to be like Christ and to be labeled as Christians by those in the world that desperately need him I think it all begins with that preaching and teaching the word of God, submitting yourself, placing yourrself underneath that so that you don’t think differently, you know the truth and then you embrace the truth. You believe the truth and then you commit yourself to obey the truth. That results in life change, life transformation. People see that and they are attracted to Christ in us the hope of glory.
Keith Wiebe: Good, thank you very much. I appreciate that mike thank you.
Sam Rohrer: Keith we have another caller here, Keith again.
Keith Wiebe: Let’s go.
Sam Rohrer: A question. Let me go ahead and bring up this question here. Somewhere here in Pennsylvania, but I can’t … Go ahead.
Caller 2: Yes sir. I want to ask you folks, I appreciate being on the line here. In First Timothy 5:20 it says, those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all that the rest also may fear. I look back. I’m a 72 year old. I look what’s happening to my country and I’m wondering why is there so much fear amongst the pastorate to rebuke evil? I personally think they have abdicated the responsibility as shepherds of the church to be involved, to know what’s happening politically, socially, and culturally, and rebuke that which is evil. Can you kindly explain what’s happening to our pastorate? Many of them, I think, forgive me for being so harsh, but I think they’re theological eunuchs. Thank you.
Keith Wiebe: That’s a good, good point, good question. Who wants to jump into that?
Joe Green: If I could. This is Joe Greene.
Keith Wiebe: Hi Joe.
Joe Green: I think that’s a great point. I think that is a fulfillment of prophecy that’s talked about in the last days that they will not endure sound doctrine, but they will turn away from sound teaching. We see that and I see a lot of pastors that are more concerned with we’ve drunk the KoolAid and allowed the world to dictate to us of how what our response should be. I’ve heard people even say in the LGBT community that the reason so many of them won’t respond to the message is because we preach too hard or we don’t show love enough. Instead of us standing on the biblical foundational principles and understanding of how things play out in a culture when it becomes corrupted as our culture has become corrupted, we are being drawn by our emotions, drawn by our desire to please the people or even drawn by having a larger congregation or being accepted by the world.
We know that Jesus says very clearly that, if they hated him, they’re going to hate us. We shouldn’t be surprised by these things happening. I do think just like everyone has mentioned earlier, that it’s a lack of biblical literacy and also a lot of these new, excuse me, doctrines are being taught. Especially I think one of the things, and I hope that I don’t offend anyone, but this prosperity Gospel is really becoming prevalent and these superstar pastors that we have that preaches the name it and claim it, or the word of faith that says that everything’s going to be great. Once you get saved and you’ll have more money and more stuff and you won’t get sick and all these other things. People are gravitating towards that as opposed to the hard preaching and teaching of the gospel which is the sword that actually cuts the time.
Keith Wiebe: That’s good. That’s good Joe. Appreciate that. Thank you so very much for that question. I’m going to move us into the last ending of this. What I would like to do is circle the horn one more time with each one of you. I’m going to ask you as preachers to do something very difficult. A summary thought and no more than two sentences. We’ve been talking about preaching, we’re talking about pastoring in just a couple … You want to leave just two sentences with all the rest of it. What is it? Nathan if you’re still on I know you’ve got to go pretty quick. I’m going to start with you.
Nathan Crockett: Yes, I’m still on.
Keith Wiebe: Put you on the spot first.
Nathan Crockett: Trying to think of how to make them long sentences.
Keith Wiebe: Don’t give anybody else any ideas.
Nathan Crockett: No. I think it’s a remarkable privilege to get to preach God’s word, and to think that in an age where so many people like watching superhero movies. God uses flawed instruments with faltering mouths and imperfect lives. In His power, He makes a masterpiece out of the most unlikely of materials and that simply points to His sovereign ability, His magnificent artistry that God often uses unlikely heroes. We have this incredible privilege to either stand behind the pulpit or to sit and listen to others preach the unchanging, unaltered word of God that we are feeble men, and we stand in an age with tons of technology and so on but we stand there with an ancient book and yet it’s a book that has changed the world and that’s an incredible.
Keith Wiebe: That is incredible that is very, very well said. Gary. Two sentences at the end.
Gary Dull: All right my two sentences will be two verses of scripture. How does that sound? Because-
Keith Wiebe: That works.
Gary Dull: I imagine that there are pastors out there today, who are discouraged. Of course I say don’t quit don’t give up. We have 1 Corinthians 15:58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Then Galatians 6:9. Let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
Keith Wiebe: Good, very good, very Good, Joe.
Joe Green: That’s a difficult one. Well I just look at the burdens on our hearts to fulfill what God started in the very beginning, which is to promote and protect His image and His likeness in the earth. That we have to have that desire and that we have to understand that our goal is to move towards what we know God to want us to move towards, which is unity and diversity. Being proactive, being intentional, coming out of our box and reaching those goals that may not be right in our environment, but those are the ones that God desires as much as anything. Preaching has to be motivated by that.
Keith Wiebe: Very good, very good, Mike and thank you for joining us.
Mike Frazier: Couple of thoughts. I think that as preachers, when we stand behind the pulpit, we need to always remember that the success of the service is not done in our power. We’ve got to remember that the Word of God is alive and the Spirit of God is alive. As we’ve already heard emphasized we persuade men, but ultimately the convicting work of God’s Word and God’s Spirit is what gets the job done. My father who has been long time in the ministry has told me through the years and told other younger preachers, “Remember whatever you catch the people with is what you’re going to keep the people with.” We’ve got to catch the people with strong biblical preaching and teaching. That in the long run is what’s going to keep them. I believe tied into our ministries and experiencing the life transformation that God wants to bring about in their lives.
Keith Wiebe: Very good. Thank you so much and on my behalf. Sam, I’m going to come to you just here in a second, but first I want to thank all of you men for joining us, being a part of our panel today. I think this has been very instructive. This has been recorded and certainly is worth listening to. Again, my thanks also to all of you, who have joined us, and I trust that this has been an encouragement, a blessing and a hope to you. Now, Sam to prove that I’m living really dangerously, I’m giving the last word to a man who has spent a lot of years as a politician and now is also a preacher. Your two sentences are going to close us out, and then would you close our time together by leading us in prayer please?
Sam Rohrer: Yes, Keith, I will. I appreciate and I do want to thank everyone for the comments today. A great deal of wisdom has been shared on the call today. I am looking forward to it being used in a larger way, even after this call today. Keith, if I were to summarize everything that I’ve heard, is that it’s a combination of what Nathan said, what Mike said, and actually Joe and Gary, it’s the same thing. As pastors we need to understand we are in an ordained position, established by God. It is noble. It is worthy. It is also one that for which we will all be held even for a greater account and accountability because we’re in that position. We can’t do it on own, but we can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. Who will undertake and is the Great Communicator, and the Great Convictor.
Anyway those … All right my thoughts are running many ways here Keith, but I’m just saying for such a time as this, we are here. May we pray for each other, stand with each other and in every way, let the Lord be seen first and us behind the scenes and then the Lord will do His work. We really need to see the Lord do His work today.
Keith Wiebe: That’s right.
Sam Rohrer: Those are my thoughts. I’ll close here Keith if you don’t mind.
Keith Wiebe: Lead us in prayer.
Sam Rohrer: Dear heavenly Father, we are so grateful to you for your faithfulness. You’ve given us your word. That’s all we need. You have given us the Holy Spirit that lives within us to guide us and direct us to seal us, to keep us… it’s what we need. Lord, may we understand, may we clearly understand and be aware of the strategies of the world, the flesh and the devil. May we understand the conquering power and the victory we already have through your son Jesus Christ. I pray for every man on this call, every person on this call and Lord every person associated with this network and others that may not even know about it yet, who do understand their calling and understand that as remnant pastors, we’re in an unusually, enormous, significant time. Lord, there’s never been a time for the power of the gospel and strong preaching to be more evident and seen than today.
It is the answer, it is the answer to our needs and Lord, give us that burden for the hearts of people; not caught up in the conflict of personalities that we see about us and so forth, but keep us focused on loving the things that you love and hating the things that you hate. That when people see our lives, as I said back in the days of Barnabas, they saw what the people did and said they were with Christ and they called them Christians. Lord, we are that, we wear that label with humility and honor. We just pray that we would live up to that standard as best we can in these days that you’ve laid out before us. We pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.
Keith Wiebe: Amen. Thank you, Sam. Thank you gentlemen. Thanks for all of you on the call. God bless you. May God bless you as your preach His wonderful Word.
Sam Rohrer: Thank you.
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