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The Ear: Randy Roberts Connecting Text and Culture


For thirteen-and-a-half years, Randy Roberts has led the Loma Linda University Church.  Through his preaching and leadership, he ministers to some 6,000 members.  The church has a staff of 15 pastors.

If he is “very busy,” he also loves his work — his congregation, his colleagues, the work of “active outreach.”  He speaks of his passion for “crafting sermons that are faithful to the text and connected to the culture.”  When he worries, he worries about “trying to mobilize and connect members, staying faithful to scripture and relevant to culture, making Adventism relevant for the next generations.”

Roberts, who has earned a Doctor of Ministry degree, has taught university courses for two-and-a-half decades.  He has written widely for a variety of church publications and published one book.   He is married and has college-aged children.

Here is perspective from Roberts on the work and challenges of Adventist pastoral ministry in the setting of his very large congregation:

Question: You lead an Adventist congregation.  What is it that, as a leader, you hope to achieve?

Answer:  To lead people into a deeper, more faithful, and more life changing walk with Jesus.  This will be fleshed out in a church that engages with its community’s needs and spiritual questions.

Question: Thoughtful members really appreciate a compelling — ideally, an insightful — sermon.   If there were one key to rising above mediocrity in preaching, what do you think it is?

Answer:  Preparation and work, which seeks the intersection between the text and today’s world.

Question: What is the most important factor in your own sermon preparation?  How does it relate to both the substance and the delivery of your sermons?

Answer:  Prayerful work, which seeks the message of the text, and finds and prepares for an engaging way to present that in today’s world.

Question: Your congregation has many members.  How is it possible for you to connect with your members so they actually see as a pastor and not simply as a Sabbath morning preacher?

Answer:  That is possible only on a limited basis.  It is an ongoing challenge.  I seek to meet it by connecting outside of the pulpit in any way that I can.

Question: How do you pay attention both to evangelism and also to the care and keeping of your current members?

Answer:  Through the pastoral staff as well as through the preaching of sermonic material that addresses such issues.  

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