On Thursday, Family Research Council hosted its third Pastors Briefing of the year, this time at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. The event, which drew pastors from throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, was designed to equip, educate, and encourage pastors to faithfully navigate recent cultural and political trends. Pastors heard from various national speakers and received FRC resources, including new material from FRC's Association of Churches and Ministries and the Center for Biblical Worldview (CBW).
Jack Graham, the long-time senior pastor of Prestonwood, kicked off the event by exhorting pastors to help their congregations understand the connection between biblical principles and issues currently being debated in the public square. Graham acknowledged that pastors are often told to avoid addressing controversial issues. However, Graham said congregants desperately need to know how God's Word speaks to these issues.
Following Graham, FRC President Tony Perkins gave a devotional from Genesis 39 about Joseph. According to Tony, pastors can learn three lessons from Joseph's life in Egypt. First, pastors must embrace the Lord and His word. Pastoral ministry is difficult, and as culture becomes increasingly antagonistic to Christian convictions, pastors must remember that their source of strength is God. Furthermore, in Scripture, Christians have everything they need to live in our fallen world. Second, pastors must learn to adapt. As Joseph adapted from a life of ease in Potiphar's house to one of hardship in prison, pastors must learn to adapt to the challenges facing their churches. Finally, Tony encouraged attendees to stay on mission. "You have the ability through the word of God to change lives, communities, and nations if you stay on mission and remain faithful to God's call," Tony explained.
I hosted a panel discussion titled "Wokeness, Biblical Worldview, and SAGE Cons" with the CBW's Joseph Backholm and FRC Action's Brent Keilen to wrap up the morning session. The conversation centered around threats facing the church, such as government overreach, biblical illiteracy, and an educational system that undermines biblical values. Brent explained the acronym "SAGE Con," which stands for "spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives." He explained why developing more SAGE Cons is a priority for FRC and FRC Action. At the conclusion of the panel, pastors had time to ask questions.
After the morning break, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick exhorted pastors to see how their courage and guidance are needed more than ever before in these chaotic times. "Everything we talk about, you can and should speak about," he explained. Patrick noted recent abortion legislation and ongoing discussions about gender ideology in public school and higher education that pastors should be aware of and address.
Before lunch, Bishop Patrick Wooden, pastor of Upper Room Church in Christ in Raleigh, North Carolina, gave a powerful sermon from Acts 17:16-28. Focusing on verse 16, Wooden noted that Paul's spirit was "stirred" when he became aware of the many idols in Athens. Paul was outraged by the rampant paganism and false worship and challenged the prevailing belief systems. Applying the passage to the present day, Wooden argued that pastors should likewise be "stirred" and provoked by sin and evil that plagues our communities and churches. "Where is the righteous indignation? Where is the fire?" asked Wooden. "There needs to be fight in the preacher. Be stirred!" he exclaimed, noting that progressive indoctrination will continue unless the pulpits in America are stirred to take meaningful action.
Over lunch, the pastors were introduced to local candidates for school board, who had an opportunity to explain why they felt God was leading them to get involved in local politics. After the lunch break, Steve Smothermon, pastor of Legacy Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, recounted his church's struggles with local and state authorities that treated houses of worship unfairly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Smothers explained how his church eventually prevailed in court.
Mark Harris, vice president of FRC's Association of Churches and Ministries, explained how Nehemiah offers a helpful biblical example of a leader who recognized the emergency of his day and responded well. Harris said just as Nehemiah relied on God for wisdom, pastors today must also rely on God and His Word to shepherd the people entrusted to them.
Paul Blair, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, and Rick Scarborough, president of Recover America, closed out the event. Scarborough, whose organization co-hosted the event, talked about his experience in politics and encouraged pastors to be bold in their engagement. Although there are many topics labeled "political issues," Scarborough pointed out that many topics labeled "political issues" are directly addressed in God's Word and argued that pastors should never be cajoled into silence.
This Pastors Briefing, which follows similar events held in Springfield, Missouri, and Greensboro, North Carolina, earlier this year, is the third in five events around the country designed to engage pastors in the leadup to this year's midterm elections. For information about future events, visit WatchmenPastors.org/events. Also, for more on the topic of Christian political engagement, read my booklet Biblical Principles for Political Engagement.