UPDATED 9/16/11, 4:25 p.m.
RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP) — The life and legacy of Southern Baptists’ “Prince of Preachers” was honored by trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources on the first night of their semiannual meeting, Sept. 12-13 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.
On what would have been Adrian Rogers’ 80th birthday, Sept. 12, trustees presented a resolution to his widow Joyce Rogers and her son Steve, who serves as president of the Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute.
Michael Deahl, vice chairman of LifeWay’s trustees and chairman of the trustee executive committee, introduced the resolution in personal perspective:
“I moved to Dallas in 1980 as a very immature Christian,” said Deahl, an attorney at Powell, Coleman & Arnold, LLP, in Dallas. “Dr. Rogers came and preached a revival at my church and it was a time which became very instrumental in my journey of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, told trustees that adopting a resolution of appreciation recognizing the life and continuing ministry impact of Adrian Rogers — “one of the giants of Southern Baptist life — will be one of the highlights of your service as trustees.”
Rainer said the void left by Rogers’ “home-going” is still large.
“Today, on what would be Adrian Rogers’ 80th birthday, we acknowledge the enormous contribution to Southern Baptist life and the evangelical world,” Rainer said.
The resolution presented by Rainer highlights Rogers’ contribution to the Southern Baptist Convention as one of the leading voices for returning the convention to solid theological conservatism and for his renown as one of the foremost pulpiteers.
“I am overwhelmed with your reception and generosity,” said Joyce Rogers, adding that it was at Ridgecrest where Adrian Rogers surrendered to the ministry.
“Adrian was 16, I was 15,” she recounted. “I still remember standing by his side when he stepped out to make it public that God was calling him to preach the Gospel. I knew then that one day I would be Mrs. Adrian Rogers, pastor’s wife.”
She told trustees that she felt dismay during the early days of the Conservative Resurgence when her husband, whom she called “Mr. Conviction, Courage and Compassion,” often stood alone to issue a call to biblical fidelity.
“I remember those days; the battle for the Bible,” she said. “I thought at one convention: ‘Why won’t anyone stand with Adrian?’ Now there’s an army of men and women standing for the Bible.”
Steve Rogers described his father’s desire to train and strengthen the next generation of ministers.
“He called it being in the transfer zone — where relay runners pass the baton,” Steve Rogers said. “It’s what he wanted to do in his latter years. Our idea was to take 50 men at a time — it wasn’t a large global vision — calling it ‘Three days up close and personal with Adrian Rogers.'”
Much of the initiative for the training was rooted in conversations with LifeWay and B&H Publishing Group, Steve said, noting the B&H publication “What Every Christian Ought to Know” is Adrian Rogers’ bestselling book.
In 2005, Steve said his father indicated a desire to record his training. “We videotaped it in April 2005, the next month he received the cancer report and six months after that God called him home,” Steve said.
The resulting set of tapes, edited into pastor’s training material, became the impetus for the Adrian Rogers Pastors Training Institute which “since 2007 has seen more than 20,000 pastors on five continents go through the training,” Steve said.
“I have wondered many times why Dad is in heaven and my brother [David Rogers, a former International Mission Board missionary in Spain and now chief editor at the Rogers institute] and I are doing what we’re doing,” he said. “I asked God to help me do what is able to be done in my generation much like Dad did in his generation.
“Repurposing the timeless truth for today’s audience,” including for believers in countries closed to open Gospel proclamation, “God has truly moved the ministry to the next generation,” Steve Rogers said.
Russ Rankin is manager of editorial services for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.