Pastors can sometimes feel isolated, being just one among a flock with a specific set of responsibilities and concerns.
The American Pastors Network (APN) aims to alleviate some of these feelings of isolation by offering both in-person and virtual events where pastors can come together, gain insight from each other and share their ideas and experiences.
A recent APN conference call among pastors focused on the topic of “Preaching in Perilous Times,” and APN president Sam Rohrer says these types of gatherings help pastors to know there are others facing their same challenges.
“We were not only honored to host this pastors’ conference call aptly titled ‘Preaching in Perilous Times,’ but we as a pastors network take it seriously to enable pastors to lead their churches in the best way they possibly can, and this means by preaching the whole counsel of God and giving the people in the pews insight into how they can look at today’s issues from both a biblical and constitutional basis,” Rohrer said.
The call highlighted several pastors who are part of the network. Keith Wiebe, APN’s vice president of state chapter development, posed several questions and participants on the call were also able to interact during a time of Q&A. A few of the questions and answers from the call are highlighted below:
QUESTION: George Barna’s research tells us that just 30 percent of pastors actually believe in the absolute authority of Scripture. How has preaching changed over the past few years?
ANSWER: Gary Dull, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Altoona, Pa.: “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 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 preach that which looks good, sounds good, maybe even tastes good but it has very, very little spiritual nourishment. I’m very concerned about that because I think we need to do as Paul said—to preach good sound doctrine—and some of these ‘cupcake’ sermons today do not do that.”
Q: How has the audience changed? Have their expectations, needs and interests changed?
A: Dull: “The needs will never change from generation to generation because of the spiritual aspect of the individual’s life are all aboard in sin. We all need a Savior, and we all need to grow. 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 to know what the Bible really said, to understand the doctrine, 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. Those 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.”
Q: What challenges are faced in training young preachers—shaping their thinking and molding their preaching?
A: Nathan Crockett, professor at Bob Jones University, Greenville, S.C.: “When they come as freshmen, we’re amazed at … their lack of biblical understanding. I tell them to turn to a certain passage and they’re fumbling around, partly because they are used to the cell phone. Before you can preach God’s Word to others, you have to understand it yourself. They may be very familiar with the world in which they live, but they have to understand the world of the Bible and actually have biblical knowledge and understanding to be able to get that information to the audience they’re preaching to.”
Q: Describe the preaching burden God has given you for a multiethnic, multicultural setting.
A: Joe Green, pastor of Antioch Assembly, Harrisburg, Pa.: “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.”
Q: Why are messages on a biblical worldview important to address from the pulpit?
A: Mike Frazier, pastor of Canton Baptist Temple, Canton, Ohio: “I think in churches across America, 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 critical to deal with the subject of having a biblical worldview. I dealt with the importance of it and how to cultivate a biblical mindset. We talked about how a biblical worldview all begins in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 and how a biblical worldview helps you to understand the mess we’re in today all across America and in the world. We also talked about a biblical worldview and how it pertains to salvation. That’s where it all begins and how a is person saved—how really thinking biblically 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. If we can get our people to think biblically, we can get them to live 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, we can truly be the salt of the earth and the light of the world that He’s called us to be.”