Pastoral Lessons I Learned from Adrian Rogers

(For my first two posts on Adrian Rogers, see here and here.)

Following my previous post on some of the personal lessons I learned from Dr. Adrian Rogers, I would like to share insights I learned from him as a pastor and preacher. Let me break it down into four essential components that I think every pastor should aspire to cultivate.

As a Preacher

Adrian Rogers was a faithful and consistent Bible preacher. The idea of entering the sacred pulpit without a Bible and the intent to preach that Bible never entered his mind. He believed without mental hesitation or reservation that the Bible was the inerrant and infallible Word of God with the power to change lives and eternal destinies. He preached with clarity and conviction, and few excel him in doing “soul winning” from the pulpit. He was expositor, encourager and exhorter, and he did so with a pastor’s heart that let you know he loved you and wanted to see you “come to Jesus.”

As a Pastor

Dr. Rogers excelled here too. He was deeply loved by his people, and at his funeral more than 10,000 showed up to express their love and thanksgiving to God for a life well lived and a ministry that was faithful to the end. Given by God a powerful personality, he did not abuse it. Bob Sorrell, one of his closest friends, said that Adrian chose to lead by consensus rather than coercion or manipulation or strong handedness. He modeled a shepherd-servant-leader. I suspect that is why so many, both inside and outside his church, gladly followed his leadership. During the Conservative Resurgence of the SBC, he was the unquestioned leader. He pastored the movement. Many chose gladly to follow his leadership and the results of a denomination returned to its historic, orthodox roots is the lasting testimony. Further, people who served on his staff speak highly of the privilege it was to work alongside of him. I confess to some personal envy at this point!

As an Evangelist

Adrian Rogers was a personal soul winner who modeled for his people what that means. He shared the gospel “promiscuously” as the Puritans said, and the joy you saw in his eyes when a soul came to Jesus paralleled that of the rejoicing that takes place in heaven. He also was incredibly effective in sharing the gospel from the pulpit, simply explaining the gospel and drawing the net. He did not use unethical, high pressure tactics, but he did press the audience for a decision. He knew what was at stake, and he took his responsibility as a gospel herald very seriously. He was not a Calvinist, but he believed only the Holy Spirit could draw men and women, boys and girls to Christ. He believed that God the Holy Spirit used the preached word through His servants to bring about the salvation of sinners. He found it amazing that God would stoop to allow us to join hands with him in saving the lost.

As a Missionary

Dr. Rogers had a missionary heart. He was often on the mission field preaching the gospel, and he lead his churches to give generously and go in great numbers to touch the tribes, tongues, peoples and nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this context he was also a minister of racial reconciliation in a city that had been ravaged by bigotry, prejudice and racism: the city of Memphis. All races knew they were welcomed where Adrian Rogers was pastor. Every pastor knew they could call him brother and friend. He, like I, longed to see the church on earth reflect the reality of the church in heaven. I see more clearly today this subtle influence in my own life.

In all these reflections on Adrian Rogers, I will have failed if I have given the impression that he was flawless and perfect. He, of course, was not and he would be the first to say so. He was a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace. He was, however, a great man, a Jesus intoxicated man, and a man mightily used of God. I miss him and so do many others. Thankfully his sermons live on through Love Worth Finding Ministries. Thankfully his legacy lives own in countless lives that were touched by this hero of the faith. He always said he could not wait to kick up gold dust in heaven on those beautiful streets. I am grateful he doing that very thing today as he rejoices in the presence of the Jesus he so loves, worships and adores. May, by God’s grace and for His glory, the tribe of Adrian Rogers increase a thousand-fold. That would be a good thing indeed.