PALM BEACH GARDENS (FBW)—Like the biblical character Abel, though Southern Baptist preacher Adrian Rogers is dead, “he still speaks,” Hayes Wicker told a gathering in Palm Beach Gardens Sept. 24 to seek support to launch the “Adrian Rogers Legacy Library.”
“Though he is more alive than ever before in heaven, he is still speaking on this earth,” Wicker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Naples, said of Rogers. “He is, I believe, obviously, personally with the Lord, but influentially with us and generation after generation.”
The event was held at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, the home church of Steve Rogers, Adrian Rogers’ son who leads the Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute. The institute is based in North Palm Beach—near where Adrian and Joyce Rogers grew up in West Palm Beach.
The Legacy Library will be an online resource that will host approximately 6,000 sermons by Adrian Rogers. The sermons, which are currently being transcribed and edited, will be available in text, audio and video formats, with a searchable database in order to make Rogers’ lifetime preaching output available to current and future generations.
The Web site, which is anticipated to launch its initial content next spring, will also host copies of the actual preaching notes Rogers used to deliver his sermons, including his handwritten notations. Even Rogers’ own evaluations of his sermons, which he would grade on a scale of 1-10, can be seen in the notes.
David Rogers, another of Adrian’s sons, and a former International Mission Board missionary, is the senior editor of the sermons, working on them in his father’s study in Memphis.
In an interview with Florida Baptist Witness, Joyce Rogers said the Legacy Library is “much more than Adrian ever imagined.”
She said her sons are “uniquely gifted” by God to “further their father’s ministry through the Adrian Rogers’ Legacy Library. He would be very pleased to know that his sons are being used of God to continue his vision of pastor training.”
Wicker, a member of the Pastor Training Institute board of directors, told the gathering in the immediate aftermath of Rogers’ death he asked God, “How could you take him when he was just beginning a fresh ministry of pastor training?
“And over a period of days, God began to show me … that God’s ministry had only just begun with this great man. Though dead, yet he speaks,” Wicker said, citing the biblical character Abel from Heb. 11:4.
“We believe like young Timothy this great Paul who walked among us has handed us the baton to finish the race,” Wicker said.
Wicker said the generation of pastors who grew up during the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention “have to pass that baton and a new, younger generation need to put steel in their nerves and steel in their wills to stand for the faith and still fight the good fight.”
Rogers, a three-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was a key leader of the Conservative Resurgence, with his election as SBC president in 1979 the first victory of the movement.
One way to pass the baton, according to Wicker, is through Rogers’ preaching legacy.
“I believe it is that treasure of these messages that are being cataloged and shared and taught that will pass the baton, continue the race, and when we say, ‘Now what?’ the answer resounding is, ‘Preach the Word,” Wicker said.
Wicker compared the Legacy Library with the efforts by the widows of British Baptist preaching great Charles Haddon Spurgeon and devotional writer Oswald Chambers who were responsible for publishing significant works of the preachers after their deaths.
Rogers, Wicker said, was “the greatest preacher, I believe, since Spurgeon.”
“We’re in the same train as Mrs. Chambers and Mrs. Spurgeon. And if we drop the ball or the baton now we will have deprived the next generation of Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, Adrian Rogers,” he said.
Steve Rogers told the gathering the family feels “very humbled” to pass on the preaching legacy of Adrian Rogers. “I’m not even a pastor; I’m not a preacher. I’m a musician. So, God’s got an incredible sense of humor to leave a musician in charge of this,” Steve Rogers said.
The Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute was begun in 2003 in anticipation of Rogers’ retirement as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. He did not retire until 2005 and shortly thereafter became ill.
Adrian Rogers hoped to give ten years of post-retirement to the pastor training effort, but he died in November 2005.
Rogers’ final training event was held in October at Wicker’s church in Naples and his last interview was conducted by Florida Baptist Witness at that event, with the interview and story about the event published Nov. 17, 2005.
An April 2005 event of the Pastor Training Institute was professionally videotaped, which has become the basis for the organization’s, “What Every Pastor Ought to Know” resource. The materials have been translated into Spanish, with plans to translate it into an additional 12 languages in 2011, according to Steve Rogers.
“The most unlikely places in the world are the doors of opportunity that God is opening up for the Pastor Training Institute,” Steve Rogers told the gathering, noting the resource has been used in Africa and South America, with persons doing ministry in Middle Eastern countries recently expressing interest.
PTI is seeking sponsors to underwrite the cost of the launching the Legacy Library, requesting pastors and/or churches to donate $500, the approximate cost for making each sermon available online. So far, more than $270,000 has been raised for the effort, with a projected cost of $1.5 million for the first phase of 3,000 sermons. The first phase is projected to be completed in three years.
Joyce Rogers, widow of Adrian, also spoke at the event.
Married to Adrian for 54 years, Joyce Rogers said she learned much from her husband—and pastor.
“He wanted people to understand, and so he wanted to keep it simple. But his messages were simply profound,” she said. “He was a Jesus man, and largely because of that, I am a Jesus woman. And by his preaching and by his life, he taught me to love Jesus more,” Joyce Rogers said.
She said she used, “Come to Jesus,” the plea Adrian Rogers would make in his appeal to sinners, on his gravestone and as the theme of his memorial service.
“I could never say it the way he did, but I want to the rest of my life invite people to come to Jesus with their sins and their sorrows and their suffering,” Joyce Rogers said.
Joe Boatright, Adrian Roger’s friend since their days together at Stetson University, told the gathering Rogers’ “life was deeply impacted by God’s Word. … I’d never been with a man who was more consistent in his walk with God.”
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.