One of the most important lessons I learned from my father was that pastors (and all Christians, really) have dual salt and light ministry responsibilities that compel us to address often contentious cultural issues. This requires us to stand on biblical truth and fearlessly defend our values in the secular arena.
Edit: Jonathan Falwell author
I was elated to be able to speak on this issue at a recent Family Foundation of Virginias Pastors Issues Summit which met at the state General Assembly Building.
This coalition, which has as its mission a goal of strengthening the family, prompting civic activism and affecting public policy outcomes, is comprised of pastors who do not back down from addressing cultural issues that affect the church and our religious freedoms.
I had an opportunity to tell the gathering that pastors have an obligation to confront the culture, especially at this time when our historic cultural and family values are recurrently being attacked.
Where culture is breaking down, pastors must stand in the gap. If we dont, who will?
Our congregations look to us for leadership and we cannot sit idly by as out-of-wedlock and teen pregnancy escalates, as the abortion holocaust continues to rage, as the media pours sexual images into our homes and as our religious freedoms face continual attack.
I told the Family Foundation meeting, God has called us to speak out. God has called us to make a difference. What good is it to be pastor of a church if were not making a difference?
I also spoke of the importance of our churches stepping up efforts to reach out with the Gospel to young people (the iPod Generation) and to those who are hurting.
I asked those pastors two key questions that I believe can change our culture: Do you want to stop the moral freefall that our nation has been experiencing? Do you want to change the political landscape so that the protection of family values is at the forefront of every candidates platform? If so, I told them we must preach the Gospel and win souls. Winning souls for Christ is the solution for addressing all of the moral challenges we face.
At a press conference following my address, I noted that Christians continue to be marginalized and disparaged in the public square.
So what to do?
On Thursday, I attended the funeral of Dr. D. James Kennedy, the distinguished Presbyterian pastor who helped my father start the Moral Majority in the late 1970s. I believe the lives of these two men can continue to inspire us.
While they were very different in their personas, they both exhibited an unflinching willingness to represent Jesus Christ wherever they appeared. They each studied the Word of God, were determined prayer warriors and had an audacious faith that allowed them to be used by God in amazing ways.
Dr. James Dobson shared at the funeral that after hearing of Dr. Kennedys death, he sat down at his computer and simply began to put his thoughts on paper. Noting that in the past few years weve lost many giants of the faith (including Bill Bright, Adrian Rogers, my father, and now Jim Kennedy), he asked, Who is going to take up the banner of standing up for truth in our nation and our world? Who in the next generation will stand up and be counted for righteousness?
It must start with pastors around this nation.
And we can look to these men who have gone on now as examples of how to lead our congregations and to affect the American culture. Christians can look at these men as examples of how to stand for truth in a world where moral relativism has become so rampant. We need not be fearful or hesitant in representing the cause of Christ in the pulpit, in a local arena or in the national spotlight. We, as Christians, have the power of Christ in our lives and we must live with triumphant spirits so that we may be intrepid apologists for the Gospel.
A wonderful verse for pastors and Christian leaders to recall is Genesis 15:1, which beautifully reminds us how God promises to safeguard our efforts for Him:
Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
Do not grow weary in well doing, friends. Jesus Christ is worthy of our efforts and He has promised to defend and sustain us as we work to honor Him! Winning souls can literally change everything!:-D