FRANKLIN, Tenn. — A renowned pastor boldly proclaims that America's tragic times have provided a unique opportunity for preaching the gospel. In the November-December issue of "Preaching" magazine, Jack Graham, pastor of Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano and current president of the Southern Baptist Convention noted the need of a nation in crisis to hear the clear proclamation of God's Word.
"Those of us who proclaim and share the Christian faith have the most incredible opportunity and the most open door in my lifetime," Graham says. "9/11 marked our generation forever, just as Pearl Harbor marked a previous generation, the 'greatest generation.' My prayer is that Christians in our time and our nation will rise to the occasion. We have the privilege -- those of us who preach and teach -- to undergird and strengthen believers in this time in order to take on the issues of life."
In his own church, Graham has seen a new openness to hear God's Word in these unsettled times.
"I know that in our own church, we're at a new level in terms of volunteerism, people stepping forward to serve, certainly in decisions for Christ. Everything in our church is growing and alive, and I think there is a new sense of urgency in the lives of our people," Graham indicates. "I also think there's an openness in our community -- people are asking questions, and it gives Christians an opportunity to step in. We have this wonderful message of Jesus that compared to all world religions is incomparable. We have a reason for the hope that is in us and we can proclaim that."
In the interview, Graham told Preaching magazine editor Michael Duduit that his own preaching has taken on a new sense of urgency since the events of Sept. 11.
"In my own preaching ministry there's a new directness," he observes. "I personally feel that the times are more urgent, and that it's not 'sky-is-falling' rhetoric to preach the seriousness and soberness of our times. While obviously we have great joy in the way we live, there is for me a desire to get the message out even more quickly and straightforwardly. In my mind, in the last year my preaching has taken on a new heat, if you will. I just want to make sure that every time I preach people are hearing answers to their questions, and that they are receiving not only comfort for the times but a challenge for the times, to live full-out for God."
By Pauline J.