More than 900 people gathered Aug. 25 for a Southern Baptist-sponsored conference designed to prepare followers of Christ to minister in a culture increasingly hostile to the gospel.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) convened “Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel” – the entity’s third national conference – to help Christians apply the gospel of Jesus in their interaction with various facets of the culture, including the arts, politics, sports, race, sexuality, marriage, parenting and everyday life.
The conference is designed to equip all Christian disciples “to speak with kindness and prophetic boldness to the world around them,” ERLC president Russell Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. “Engaging the culture without losing the gospel is a task given to the whole church, and that’s why I’m excited to meet with hundreds of other Christians as we seek to be faithful to our mission in this generation.
“My hope is that each attendee would leave this conference with a strengthened courage and a renewed hope in the kingdom of Christ,” said Moore, who will speak on the conference’s theme, which also is the title of his most recent book.
The conference arrives at a time when evangelical Christians and others who hold to biblically faithful views on such issues as marriage and human sexuality increasingly are finding themselves marginalized in American culture.
The two-day conference – which began Aug. 25 and ends today (Aug. 26) at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville – will feature among its speakers:
- Matt Chandler, lead teaching pastor of The Village Church in the Dallas Metroplex;
- Andy Crouch, executive editor of Christianity Today and author;
- Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in California’s Silicon Valley;
- Gabe Lyons, founder of Q Ideas;
- Andy Stanley, founder and senior pastor of North Point Ministries in Atlanta;
- Jackie Hill-Perry, poet and artist with Humble Beast Records;
- Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College;
- Alissa Wilkinson, chief film critic at Christianity Today;
- Trip Lee, pastor in Atlanta and hip-hop artist.
The speakers will address topics in plenary addresses, panel discussions and breakout sessions.
The ERLC and Alliance Defending Freedom will cosponsor a post-conference event on the morning of Aug. 27 – “The 2016 Presidential Race, Religious Liberty and the Future of the Church.”
The first ERLC National Conference, which was held in 2014, focused on applying the gospel to homosexuality and marriage, while the 2015 conference addressed the gospel and politics.
The conference is being live streamed at live.erlc.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)