Adrian Rogers was one of the most influential pastors and leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and the evangelical world. He served as the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, for 33 years, where he grew the church from 9,000 to 29,000 members. He also founded Love Worth Finding Ministries, a global media outreach that broadcasts his sermons on radio and television in more than 150 countries. He was a champion of biblical inerrancy and a key figure in the Conservative Resurgence, a movement that restored the SBC to its orthodox roots. He was elected as the SBC president three times, in 1979, 1986 and 1987, and chaired the committee that revised the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000. He was also a prolific author of 18 books and a mentor to many pastors and leaders.
Rogers passed away on Nov. 15, 2005, at the age of 74, after a battle with cancer and pneumonia. He left behind a legacy of faith and leadership that continues to inspire millions of Christians today. Here are some of the highlights of his life and ministry:
Rogers was born on Sept. 12, 1931, in West Palm Beach, Florida. He became a Christian at the age of 19 and felt called to preach soon after. He graduated from Stetson University in 1954 and from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 1958.
Rogers pastored four churches before coming to Bellevue Baptist in 1972. He led Bellevue to become one of the largest and most influential churches in America, with an average attendance of 7,000 on Sundays and a budget of $18 million. He also oversaw the construction of a new sanctuary that seats 7,000 people and a $12 million media center.
Rogers launched Love Worth Finding Ministries in 1987 to reach people around the world with the gospel through radio and television. The ministry has grown to include more than 20 languages and has distributed more than 100 million copies of Rogers' sermons on cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs and books.
Rogers played a pivotal role in the Conservative Resurgence, a grassroots movement that reclaimed the SBC from theological liberalism in the late 20th century. He was elected as the SBC president in 1979, marking the beginning of a series of conservative victories that changed the direction of the denomination. He used his influence to appoint trustees who affirmed biblical inerrancy and who hired conservative leaders and professors for SBC seminaries and entities.
Rogers also led the revision of the Baptist Faith and Message, the SBC's statement of faith, in 2000. The revised document affirmed biblical authority, salvation by grace through faith alone, the exclusivity of Christ as the only way to God, the sanctity of human life, marriage as a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman, and religious liberty for all people.
Rogers was known for his powerful preaching that combined biblical exposition, practical application and personal illustration. He had a deep voice that commanded attention and a warm personality that conveyed love. He preached on various topics such as salvation, prayer, family, stewardship, spiritual warfare, prophecy and revival. He often used memorable phrases such as \"It is better to be divided by truth than united by error,\" \"The same Jesus who turned water into wine can transform your home,\" \"You are not saved by your good works; you are saved for good works,\" and \"The Bible is not just a book; it is a love letter from God.\"
Rogers was also a generous giver who supported various causes such as missions, evangelism, education and social justice. He gave away most of his royalties from his books and media ministry to support these causes. He also established scholarships for seminary students and helped fund church plants and building projects.
Rogers was married to Joyce Rogers for 54 years. They had four children: Steve Rogers, Gayle Rogers Woodson, David Rogers and Janice Rogers Wade. They also had nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.