ERLC network to equip Christians for culture

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Southern Baptists and other Christians have a new means of being equipped to address the culture's contentious issues with the Gospel of Jesus – thanks to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The Southern Baptist Convention's ethics entity unveiled today (Jan. 8) its ERLC Leadership Network

and its related advisory council of SBC pastors and leaders.

The ERLC describes the new network as a blend of "university alumni association" and "comprehensive digital equipping hub." It is designed to provide outlets for "affinity" with and "resources" from the ERLC, and is open to men and women who seek to identify with the ERLC's Gospel-focused approach to cultural issues in their roles as pastors, leaders or lay people.

The ERLC Leadership Network Council consists of 31 Southern Baptist pastors and leaders, including David Platt, Matt Chandler and J.D. Greear, who will guide the network and receive training from the ERLC staff.

"The ERLC Leadership Network is about ministering in the midst of a devil-haunted universe," ERLC President Russell D. Moore said. "As we come alongside one another, we'll talk about crucial ethical issues confronting churches and how we can engage the culture with a Gospel focus.

"We'll think through issues that aren't yet confronting churches but will, and how we can best go through the difficulties of life and local church ministry with a joyful warrior, kingdom expectancy -- marching toward Zion on the triumphant side of history," he said.

Council members, who will contribute some material for the ERLC, welcomed the new endeavor.

Chandler, lead pastor of teaching at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, said he is blessed to be a council member.

"When I need help navigating the challenging ethical issues that exist in today's culture, the ERLC is a great resource for me," Chandler said in a statement on the leadership network website.

Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh/Durham, N.C., area, also praised the initiative on its website.

"The ERLC helps me think Biblically and in Gospel-responsible ways about the issues confronting our people every single day," Greear said. "To not speak and think about these issues would be doing our people a great disservice."

Benefits of belonging to the leadership network, according to the ERLC, include receiving unique content, gaining preferred access to commission events and securing discounts for ERLC events and materials. There is no charge to register for the network. Members of the network receive regular messages from the ERLC regarding materials and other benefits.

While the network is open to all, the ERLC will fill the network council annually on an invitation-only basis.

In addition to Chandler and Greear, other council members include:

-- Platt, senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., and author of the book "Radical;"

-- A.B. Vines, senior pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., and president of the SBC's National African American Fellowship;

-- Matt Carter, pastor of preaching and vision of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas;

-- Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, and SBC first vice president, and

-- Nathan Lino, senior pastor of Northeast Houston (Texas) Baptist Church and the SBC's 2012 first vice president.

Network registration, a full list of council members and other information are available at erlc.com/network.


Tom Strode is Baptist Press' Washington bureau chief. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).