In times when we hear of preacher shortages and rapid change that leaves Christians breathless, Roy H. Lanier Jr. projects a vision of a church in slower, more anchored, sure times. Lanier has spent his adult life preaching and training preachers. He still uses “Jr.” with his name because his late father is well known as a scholar, preacher and writer. Since 1976, he has worked full time in evangelism and writing. Presently he accepts 12 appointments for gospel meetings each year. Until 1991 it was 44 meetings per year.
Lanier was pulpit preacher at six congregations before he began devoting all his energies to meetings and writing. He has always loved preaching, and he has been active in training and encouraging preachers. From 1973 to 1981 he taught at Bear Valley School of Preaching in Colorado and still gives weekly and quarterly seminars at several preacher schools. He has conducted teacher training workshops in 15 states.
In 1972 he founded the Rocky Mountain Christian newspaper and edited it for 10 years, during which the circulation reached 20,000. During this same period, he experimented with radio. Later he prepared teaching programs for television. Many of his studies, preserved on video, are used across the country in Bible training.
Lanier has devoted much of his time to working with men who want to learn more about the Bible so they can enrich their preaching. He’s also been the friend and mentor to many young preachers as they learn to help churches grow.
Since you spend much time training and mentoring preachers, what are your impressions of the men who are preaching or preparing to preach?
Many fine young men in our universities and preacher schools are preparing to preach. It is sad some are only on the periphery, that is, planning to be youth ministers, family counselors or education directors.
Too often such men obtain few doctrinal studies in order to prepare themselves in other disciplines. Their talents are impressive, but their Bible knowledge is surface.
The real heroes in our brotherhood are the local preachers who receive very little press or attention. They are the true soul winners and church builders. We may not hear much about them, but thank God for these true soldiers of the Lord.
As you work with preachers, what are the major ideas that you pass along about building up the church and doing evangelism?
Men first should be loyal to Jesus Christ, healthy in faith and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:6), willing to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:1-5). Courage to reprove false teachers and church wreckers is needed at times.
A rude, unkind, antagonistic or intolerant attitude must be avoided at all costs, regardless of how pure one is in doctrine. Meekness, gentleness and forbearance must prevail. Our generation has experienced an explosion of fantastic opportunities worldwide for gospelizing, sharing the gospel. Communications, travel, technology, persons willing to go and wealth to send them are without parallel in the history of the church. We are blessed with so many tools. We must not disappoint our Lord.
What aspects of the church do you think have been neglected in our teaching and preaching?
First, does the current generation know who we are? We are in a serious identity crisis. Are we just another denomination, or are we identical to the church the Lord built (Matt. 16:18)? Too many of our scholars have imbibed at the tables of denominational pap. They find the courage to criticize brethren, but do not have the courage to criticize their denominational teachers and friends.
One can read clear and simple descriptions of the Lord’s people in the New Testament. No description or mention of any denomination can be found in the New Testament.
Who among us is still willing to proclaim these truths? Our folks have not heard this for years, and they surely need to know these distinctions.
Second, current cries for tolerance can compromise the truth. Truth is not relative; experience, feelings, choice and opinions do not change the words of our Lord.
Too many discussions and forums today are simply a pooling of ignorance. Incom-petent teachers, skilled in communication, but almost illiterate in doctrine, are feeding our churches sophomoric soup that could be obtained in most denominational churches.
New trends that excite, stir feelings and answer questions the Lord never asked are taken into the bosoms of misled men and women. University administrations have been too lenient in suffering brilliant scholarly teachers to confuse students who can only leave school with more questions than answers. Too many elders have been too lenient and patient with men in their pulpits who clearly teach unsound doctrines.
Third, we need to answer the same questions our forefathers answered on the frontiers of America and Europe: who is saved and who is lost, how is one saved, when is one saved, how is one assured of salvation, what worship pleases God, and with whom are we in fellowship? Answers were found in God’s Word.
Fourth, unfortunately some of our prominent preachers, teachers and authors no longer believe in the inspiration of the Bible as I do. Oh, they will proclaim loudly that they do believe the Bible is inspired, but their definition of inspiration is devious and crafty. By the time they wade through all the conditions they impose of historical, sociological, cultural and experiential backgrounds of the writers of the New Testament books, there is little left for the oversight of the Holy Spirit.
We still have the word made “more sure,” because men were moved by the Spirit, not by their own interpretations as they produced the word of God (2 Pet. 1:19-21). The very first dart of the devil questioned God’s word and its authority (Gen. 3:1).
I am what I am by the grace of God (1 Cor. 15:10), and I can read about it in the Bible. I am a member of a church I can read about in the Bible. I am committed to give book, chapter, verse for all that I believe and teach, all that I do in work and worship in the name of Jesus Christ, and all of those with whom I enjoy fellowship.
Today’s religious scene has had a lot of hype about God. Is that a good trend or does it create new problems in trying to develop spiritual strength?
Who is God? Is He made in man’s image, or is man made in His image? We have too much of “I can’t believe God would do … I cannot accept a God who would …” and not enough of “What does the Bible say?”
How would you assess the changes in worship styles that have occurred during the last decade?
Some of the current changes are helpful, some are puerile, faddish, foolish, deceitful, and some are unfounded in scripture.
If our preachers were not feasting at the banquet tables of denominations, fewer changes would be sought. We must not lapse into entertainment, performance and choreography. Worship is to glorify and please whom: man or God?
The only way I know that we can be sure to please God is to follow His instructions. There is a line across which persons cannot step in doctrine or worship lest they displease God (Mark 7:6-9). It is interesting that most of the changes currently in vogue downgrade time for simple preaching and teaching.
What counsel do you give devoted Christians as they confront a flood of changes and confusing signals from preachers and church leaders?
Stay with the Bible. Insist that your teachers, preachers and elders also stay with the Word. Ask them for book, chapter and verse for all they teach or practice. Remember that you must answer for yourself before God (2 Cor. 5:10).
Your loyalty is first to Jesus, not to well-intentioned but ignorant elders and preachers who craftily bring in false doctrine (2 Tim. 3:5-8).
Take heart; the law of the Lord is still perfect and in keeping it there is still great reward (Psalm 19:7-14).