Monday, February 04, 2008

The Legacy of Liberty

Is it hard to associate this picture with Jerry Falwell? If so, you are among the majority of people who don't realize that what you saw of him on CNN was only a scant glance at the periphery of a deep, abiding, and lasting ministry legacy.

I was invited by Dave Earley to come to Liberty University last week, speak to students about church planting, and play a part in their Church Planting Emphasis Week. It was my first time on the Lynchburg, VA campus, and after this visit, I realize that someone should shoot me for not having gone sooner. What follows are just a few observations of what God is doing there.

1. The legacy of Jerry Falwell. I've written about this issue before, but it bears repeating; Jerry Falwell has left a positively indelible mark on the Christian church. Say what you want to about the man (and I've said a few things myself in dissagreement), no one can doubt the tidal wave of influence this man has had on just about every aspect of our culture, and that legacy begins where every God-called and Biblically qualified man's legacy should begin; with his own children.

I met Jonathan Falwell, and had the opportunity to hear the five-year vision of Thomas Road from him directly. The church has taken on a God-sized task of planting more churches in the next five years than they have planted in the last fifty!

2. Liberty Baptist Fellowship. If you are in our association, you willl be receiving information on this organization soon. For a nominal monthly cost, your church can be a part of this fellowship, which partners with associations like ours and churches like yours to send out church planters. The funds given to the Fellowship are all directed toward the financial support of planters in the field. In addition, as a member of the fellowship, ministerial staff at your church can atted seminary tuition free.

3. Ergun Caner. Given some things I have said about this guy before, some readers might be surprised to see the picture of the two of us above. If nothing else, my few moments with Ergun Caner have taught me that in most cases, you really need to sit down and talk with someone directly before making a judgement call on them.

Ed Stetzer introduced us to each other, and before the evening was over, we still had our disagreements, but I now know which lane this guy drives in, and not only is it much closer to my own than I originally thought, but he is also an OK guy. I understand he also rides a Harley, which also ratcheted him up a knotch in my book!

4. Elmer Towns. I actually shook his hand. Enough said! Anyone who has a passion for planting churches cannot help but stand in respect of the one guy who probably had more to do with the success of Thomas Road and Liberty than Falwell himself.

5. The students. Having spent four years teaching on a University campus, I always enjoy being back around students. I spoke at both the University, and Liberty Theological Seminary, and also had the opportunity to pray and talk with several students who responded to the call to missions during Wednesday night's "campus church." These students are lining up to walk through mine fields, war zones, and countries they aren't supposed to be in so that Christ will be more widely known and worshipped. The emerging generation gives me great hope for the church.

6. The Kingdom of God. Its a lot bigger than Liberty University, and the folks at Liberty know that, which is one of the reasons God is using this campus in great ways. They are cooperating with Southern Baptists, as well as a host of other groups committed both to sound doctrine and missional fruitfulness, and God is blessing them as a result.

The next stop for me in 2008 will be Seattle, at the Reform and Resurge Conference. Its going to be an exciting year.

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