Minnesota pastor Leith Anderson was named president of the association earlier this month. He has been serving as interim president of the National Association of Evangelicals since former president Ted Haggard resigned in November 2006, after a male prostitute said that he and Haggard had a three-year sexual relationship and that Haggard had used methamphetamines.
Anderson is credited for saving the association from financial ruin during his 2001-2003 interim presidency (see "NAE Rights Its Ship"). He is senior pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, which has 5,000 in attendance.
Anderson spoke with Christianity Today about the future of the NAE.
Why does the average evangelical need the NAE?
There are many functions in the NAE. We endorse chaplains, we own World Relief, we have our Washington office. There are many functions of the NAE that are wonderful expressions of evangelicalism in America. The NAE is able to speak on behalf of evangelicals because of our constituency, which is primarily in the 60-some denominations that are members of the association.
If the NAE disappeared tomorrow, what difference would it make?
We would lose a significant voice for united evangelicalism. Otherwise, we end up with individual voices that may not be as accountable to constituencies. The NAE is an association of denominations and Christian organizations, and we are accountable to them.
In a movement as theologically and politically diverse as evangelicalism, is it possible for anyone to be a spokesman?
That's a matter of degree. The same thing is true in marriage. Is one person able to speak in every detail of agreement for the partners in marriage? The answer is, in marriage, there are great differences in opinion. So, of ...1