Adrian Rogers remains one of the most influential people in my life. Other than the Words of God in the Bible, the words of Adrian Rogers have influenced me more than any other. There is literally not a single day that I do not think of Dr. Rogers and something I have learned from him. Were we close friends? No. Actually I only had the privilege of talking with him on one occasion. What I have learned from him, I gleaned from a three day pastor’s conference that he led and from near countless sermons I have heard him preach. Still, his impact on my life is incalculable. Just this morning, I quoted him in a conversation.
The other day I was talking with a young person who is a very faithful, committed young Christian who had never heard of Adrian Rogers. It was then I realized that it’s been almost eight years since he went home to be with the Lord. Perhaps you are reading this blog and you have never heard of him. Adrian Rogers was the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee for thirty years. He was a mighty preacher and became known all over the world through the ministry he founded, Love Worth Finding. The video below will give you a flavor of his life and ministry. It was played for the first time at his funeral service…
Upon learning of his death, I typed a personal tribute to him that I shared with the church family I was serving at that time. Here it is in its entirety…
A Tribute to Dr. Adrian Rogers
By Gregory L. Corbin
November 15, 2005
Dr. Adrian Rogers, a well-known pastor and leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, went home to be with the Lord on November 15, 2005. While I will not be among the thousands who will be present at his funeral service, I decided to honor Dr. Rogers among my church family and others that I have contact with by sharing my thoughts about a man that I had the opportunity to meet up close and personal.
“I want to be like Adrian Rogers.” Those have been the words of thousands of young Baptist preachers over the years. They have been my words in my younger days as well. I still remember the first time that I saw Adrian Rogers preaching on television. I had just begun my own journey of preaching the Word of God when I saw my first Love Worth Finding broadcast. “What a voice,” I remember thinking. Like many, I was struck by his booming voice and the passion that he preached with. In 1996, I saw him in person for the first time as he preached at the Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference in New Orleans. He was no less impressive in person than on television. Great preacher. Huge church. Baptizing hundreds. Commanding leader. Like many young preachers there, I remember thinking, “I want to be like Adrian Rogers.”
Fast forward to the Fall of 2003. I was privileged to be one of 50 pastors that Dr. Rogers invited to spend three days with him in Memphis. I preached that Sunday morning at the church I was serving as pastor, hopped into my car, and took off to Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis for the evening worship service. It was an incredible service and Dr. Rogers preached a tremendous message. There were three or four other pastors who arrived early for the conference to attend the evening service. To our surprise, an announcement was made at the end of the service that Dr. Rogers would like to meet in his office with any pastors who were present. We were escorted into his office. Of course, it was very large and tastefully decorated. Behind his desk were portraits of Dr. Rogers with three different United States Presidents. However, the thing that I remember most about his office was the visitor who was there when we entered – a truck driver. As a child, this man had been saved and baptized at Bellevue early on in Dr. Rogers’ ministry there. He had not been to Bellevue or seen Dr. Rogers since he was a child. In fact, he was not even planning on being at Bellevue that night. His rig had broken down in Memphis, and it was going to be the next morning before he was going to be able to resume his trip. So, in his work clothes, he took a taxi to Bellevue for the Sunday night service and wound up getting invited to visit with Dr. Rogers in his office. It impressed me that Dr. Rogers would do that. He only spent about ten minutes with that man, but it was ten minutes that man will never forget. Even though thousands were present that night at church, Adrian Rogers took a few minutes to talk to a truck driver he had not seen in years.
When the pastor’s conference started the next morning, I was again pleasantly surprised. Dr. Rogers had cleared his calendar for three days for us. Yes, he taught us during the sessions, but he also stood out in the hallway with us during the breaks. He ate meals with us. He arrived early to talk with people and he left late after talking with people. He had a way of making each person that he talked with feel like the most important person in the building.
Speaking of the sessions, they turned out to be the opposite of what I expected. For three days, Dr. Rogers never talked to us about “how to grow a big church.” Instead, he talked with us about the pastor’s prayer life and personal integrity. He talked about the pastor’s family life – “the ministry that doesn’t begin at home doesn’t begin.” He taught us about expository preaching and how important it was to invest our lives in preaching the Word – “the Bible will get the job done.” He opened up and shared with us deeply personal stories of the tragedies and triumphs of his fifty years in ministry. He shared with us about times when he failed as a husband and struggled as a father. He shared with us about the times when he was not happy at the church he was serving. He told us about times when he had been hurt. There was not a dry eye in the house when he and his wife Joyce talked about the heart break of burying their infant son.
Another attribute that impressed me was the fact that Adrian Rogers was comfortable in his own skin. He did not try to act as if he was not a well-known pastor who led one of the largest ministries in the world. Yet, his genuine humility shined through at every turn. There was absolutely no hint of taking credit or putting on airs. He was humble, real, and personable. On the closing night of conference, we had a formal banquet. A friend and I sat down at a table and begin talking when I felt a hand on my shoulder. “May we join you?” Dr. Rogers asked as he sat down with his wife. So, I literally ate a meal elbow to elbow with Adrian Rogers. We did not talk about Bellevue or his ministry. He asked about my wife and children. He wanted to know all about them. He asked about my church and how things were going. I had dinner with Adrian Rogers and he wanted to talk about me.
When I arrived home the next day, I wrote Dr. Rogers and thanked him for three of the best days of my life. On a recent trip, I listened to most of the tapes of those sessions again. Once again, I laughed and cried and prayed as I listened to Adrian Rogers remind me that the most important things about a pastor are not the size of his church and the number of baptisms. Now that he has gone on to be with the Lord, I will probably listen to them again very soon. They are priceless.
I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to get to know Adrian Rogers the man. He was so much more than a powerful preacher and a strong leader. He was a husband who stayed faithful to his wife and loved her more the longer he was married to her. He was a father who would quickly let you know how proud he was of his children, and, when it was time to have dinner with them, he showed you to the door! They were important. He preached with great boldness but on a personal level he was humble, loving, and sincere. He loved Christ with all of his heart. He served the church with all of his might. He preached to thousands from one of the most prestigious pulpits in the world, and yet he took time to talk to truck drivers and young preachers from Alabama. There was never a hint of scandal or immorality in all of his years as a pastor. He was faithful to his Lord, his family, and his church. In a day when so many fell, he stood. In a day when so many quit, he finished. It was never about Adrian, but it was always about Jesus. Whenever he stepped into the pulpit, he did not have a sermon – he brought a message. He preached from the heart – with all of his heart. He lived what he preached. And then he died.
I want to be like Adrian Rogers.