Conference Equips Church to Engage a Changing Culture

By Julie Roys

How do you respond when a church member comes out of the closet? How do we confront the worldview challenges facing our children?  What’s the best way to keep Millennials from leaving the church? And, how can the church rescue those caught in human trafficking?

Paul Nyquist
Paul Nyquist

These are the kinds of difficult issues pastors and church leaders are facing today. And, this why Moody Bible Institute this week is hosting its first-ever Engage the Culture Conference. I am excited and honored to be emceeing this event, which seeks to equip pastors and church leaders to navigate biblically through these extremely challenging and changing times. Engage the Culture is the brainchild of Moody President Dr. Paul Nyquist and author and Pastor John Dickerson. So, in advance of the conference, I interviewed Dr. Nyquist to learn more about the thinking and strategy behind this new, cutting-edge conference. By the way, registration is still open, so it’s not too late to sign up and come!

Julie Roys: I understand this conference is the result of a conversation between you and John Dickerson, author of “The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors That Will Crash the American Church . . . and How to Prepare.” Would you tell me about that conversation and why it prompted you to create this conference?

Paul Nyquist: I read “The Great Evangelical Recession” and believed John had accurately described both the present and future of the evangelical church. I started giving the book away to others and encouraging them to read it (my executive team, the Board of Trustees, etc). Radio leadership read the book and invited John to speak at a Radio retreat. I missed meeting John at that time due to travel out of town. Around the same time I was finishing my book, “Prepare,” and asked John if he would be willing to endorse the book. He was, and we started a long-distance friendship. This led to conversations about how we can help the American church deal with the rapidly changing cultural issues we are facing – fully aware that many church leaders do not have the time or resources to dig deeply into the subjects. This led to the idea of an “Engage the Culture” conference for church leaders to address the varied culture topics from a biblical perspective. As far as we could see, there is nothing quite like this conference in our country today.

JR: Who are you hoping will attend this conference and what do you hope they will glean from it?

PN: We are hoping that pastors and church leaders will come and deeply engage in the subjects. We will have several tracks of workshops they can take on subjects most relevant to them in their situation. We hope they will be equipped a bit better to navigate our changing times with both grace and truth—not responding with hostility to our world, but also not just acquiescing to the new cultural values.

JR: Please tell me about the main speakers and why you invited each one.

PN: The speakers were carefully chosen. Dr. Al Mohler is a careful thinker on cultural issues and he starts off the conference on Wednesday night. A panel discussion, led by Chris Brooks and including me, John Dickerson, Dr. Christopher Yuan, Dr. Juli Slattery and Dr. Darrell Bock, will seek to explore human sexuality issues for the audience. John Dickerson will give a plenary also on Thursday morning. Thursday night is Dr. Tony Evans, and he will address the ever-present race issues in our country. Friday morning will have Chip Ingram, who also deeply engages in cultural issues, and Dr. Darrell Bock, research professor at Dallas Seminary and the host of a weekly podcast on cultural issues. It is a lineup of some of the top experts in the field and I can’t wait to listen in on all the sessions!

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5 thoughts on “Conference Equips Church to Engage a Changing Culture”

  1. How about effectively and truthfully proclaiming the Word of God? Pastors need to preach the Word and stay true to what the Word says and adhere to what Christ has called His church to do. Not worry about what the other “more successful” churches/pastors/authors are doing.

  2. I believe we need to engage the culture just a the apostle Paul did in his time. People are hurting and we need to understand the struggles they face. We should always preach the gospel, and meet people were they are at.

  3. Robert Zeinstra

    Chris, I didn’t see anything in this article about not preaching God’s word, or worrying about more “successful” churches. What I saw was the call for church leaders and pastors to stay informed on cultural issues that allow them to be effective preachers and teachers of God’s word. I’d say it’s akin to trying to do as Jesus did when he preached, using cultural symbols to connect to his audience. If a pastor today can’t connect with his ever-changing audience he’ll be less influential in their lives. So I’m a supporter as long as the advice from the conference is biblically-based.

  4. As a minister, this is a tough one. You can send your loved one to an ex-gay ministry, but every major, decades-old ex-gay ministry from the US to Australia has faded into history after the leaders admitted no Christians experienced a change of orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Or, you could send your loved one to a gay conversion therapist, but such therapy was proven in court to be consumer fraud after every medical expert testified it cured nobody and harmed many. The Supreme Court agreed, and the World Psychiatric Association joined every national medical association calling for an end to gay conversion therapy, aka reparative therapy. That leaves option 3: love your LGBT relative, friend or church member the way they are just as you love yourself. After all, the Gospels all show Jesus said this against gays during his life:(______________________________________________). Nothing, nada, zip.

  5. Jerry… I agree that the narrative popular in society, and now the church, is that same-sex attraction is not curable — not by psychology nor the gospel that raised Jesus from the dead. Though I have very little confidence in psychology or so-called reparative therapy, I cannot accept that the gospel is powerless to change our sinful affections. To do so denies the gospel. It also denies the experience of thousands for whom sexual redemption is not just a theory, but a reality in their lives. Our church has dozens of people who have been liberated from same-sex attraction. Many of them, though, now have children and often don’t want to talk publicly about their story out of respect for their kids.

    Also, the so-called science confirming these things is quite dubious. I encourage you to read Dr. Stanton Jones excellent article in First Things.
    There also are faithful ministries still ministering to those with same-sex attraction. Unfortunately, due to the political climate, they get very little funding from the church anymore. We have abandoned those we most need to embrace in this critical moment, but I encourage you to check out Restored Hope Network.

    I long for the day when the church treats sexual sins like all other sins and prescribes a gospel remedy, involving confession, repentance and living according to the new creation, not the fallen flesh. Why we don’t do this is beyond me.

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