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When the Church Is in the Headlines

Pastors have a measure of control over how the storm of controversy affects them and their church.
—Edward Dobson

In the early 1970s, I pastured a small church in a West Virginia mountain town of 7,000 people. During this time controversy raged over school textbooks. Many Christians felt that the books were subtly projecting values that, in some cases, were contrary to Christian values. To some extent, I agreed with them, so I decided to get involved.

I bought an advertisement in the newspaper to announce that my next Sunday night sermon would address the issue. A big crowd, with many visitors, flocked to the service, and I said some inflammatory things. From that day on I stood facing a raging storm.

I had decided not to fight with the school board over the content of the books; instead I set my sights on a more permanent solution: I wanted to push for the inclusion of parents in the process of textbook selection. So after my Sunday night sermon, I organized a pastors' meeting, including ...

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