Engaging a Changing Culture

Ep.8 | Interview with Leith Anderson

Hosted by Craig Smith


  • A reputation that precedes itself and the National Association of Evangelicals | 1:10
  • Going from a passion for baseball to the President of a major organization | 5:04
  • Growing up as the son of a pastor | 9:17
  • The three elements to rhetoric and how audiences have changes over the decades | 13:30
  • Stories are how we connect – The Bible is a Book of Stories | 17:19
  • What is a Laboratory Church| 24:13
  • Radical Changes vs. Incremental Shifts to meet and address where we are, culturally | 29:15
  • Our focus should be on where I have been placed, not in parroting those that they see | 31:37


1 | ‘What Should I say?’ Vs. ‘Who is my Audience?’

A great point that Leith brings up for pastors is that they should focus on their audience, who exactly is receiving the message this week? The ability to understand the audience and then contextualizing the Gospel, and the Biblical teaching to that audience, is essential. Connecting to that particular audience, the one that is in front of you, is where you should put your efforts! The Gospel of Jesus Christ will never change, it’s how you deliver it to your particular audience that should carry the weight of endeavors. We should always be looking to grow, not in terms of your message, but in terms of the audience(s) that you can reach — and the longer you preach, the more the audience changes (over decades)

2 | The Bible is a Book of Stories

It’s incredible how we can start off with creation in Genesis and then en up in Revelation! The Bible is an incredible book of stories with characters from all walks of life that we can relate to. Craig mentions Leith being a fantastic story teller and a master of illustrations in his sermons. And the first place that Leith goes is Jesus. Jesus was a good story teller. Stories are what people remember and stories are the way that people learn. 


Leith talks about matching preaching shifts to those that missionaries make. It’s not changing up the order of services, or cutting this and that, it’s about the language we use. It’s about the metaphors, illustrations, and language that we use to dictate our pursuits of those in the audience. Leith mentions that his church used to host out of a sports bar, which allowed people that would never set foot inside of a normal church building, to hear the Gospel for the first time. The less we are tied down by the rules of old, and “how we’ve always done things” the more flexible we are in making those adjustments to embrace our audiences and the cultures that we find ourselves in. 


Welcome back to another incredible conversation here on Clarity, a podcast all about preaching and communicating for church leaders. Today, we have a titan in his field, someone we’ve been looking forward to talking to for a long time, Leith Anderson.

Leith is the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, while he and Craig met while Craig was just beginning as faculty at Denver Seminary. Listen in today as they discuss how culture has changed, what it looks like to engage that culture, and the pieces that we (as preachers) need to hold on fast to!


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