Bob Roberts: The church must engage the world

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Editor’s Note: The Baptist Standard is pleased to launch a new ongoing column, “Deep in the Hearts of Texans.” It’s a place where Texas Baptists can get acquainted with pastors from across the state and across the spectrum of age, race and ethnicity, church size, ministry style, gender and pastoral focus. Enjoy and be enlightened …

Bob Roberts is the senior pastor of Northwood Church, which he planted in Keller, a now-booming community just north of Fort Worth, 31 years ago.

Northwood focuses on being a “glocal”—global + local—congregation. “We feel it is important for our members to take their faith outside our church walls and to make an impact for Jesus Christ in our community and around the world,” the church’s website proclaims. “We serve others using our jobs, our skills and our passions.”

Roberts provided the first set of answers for the Baptist Standard’s “Deep in the Hearts of Texans” column:


Where else have you served in ministry, and what were your positions there?

I was a youth evangelist and pastor of a church while going to seminary.

Where did you grow up?

East Texas

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How did you come to faith in Christ?

My dad was a pastor, and at the age of 13, I did so hearing him preach.

Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?

Bachelor of Arts, Baylor University

Master of Divinity, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Doctor of Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary.

Why do you feel called into ministry?

I believe I was created to bring hope to people, and there’s not a better way you can do that than by being a pastor.

What is your favorite aspect of ministry? Why?

Leading someone to faith in Jesus—because it changes their eternity and their present.


What one aspect of congregational life gives you the greatest joy?

More than anything, I like leading the church to effectively engage its city and the world.

What one aspect of congregational life would you like to change?

Church has become a Sunday event instead of something that people live out daily.

How has your ministry or your perspective on ministry changed?

It is always changing. I remember when I started, it was only about getting people “saved” and then “discipled.” And then I discovered the concept of the kingdom of God, and that changed everything for me. Then I discovered the world and how to connect the church and the world.

How do you expect congregational life to change in the next 10 to 20 years?

Churches will be smaller, more focused, more relational. Evangelicalism as we know it today will not exist. That’s not bad; it’s actually good.

If you could launch any new ministry—individually, through your congregation or through another organization—what would it be? Why?

I would take what we’ve done at Northwood and teach churches to engage their cities, multiply churches and relate in the public square.

What qualities do you look for in a congregation?

The ones that I’m teaching!

Name the most significant challenges and/or influences facing your congregation.

Not allowing political rhetoric to shape our theology or response to others. Money.

What do you wish more laypeople knew about ministry or, specifically, your ministry?

How to engage the world.

About Baptists

What are the key issues facing Baptists—denominationally and/or congregationally?

The single biggest issue is knowing how to combine the concepts of the kingdom of God on the earth with humanity. Our theology in terms of missions and the priesthood of believers is good—our practice not so much.

What would you change about the Baptist denomination—state, nation or local?

Turn every church into the missions agency and help every church multiply churches.

About Bob

Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?

Doug Coe, National Prayer Breakfast—focus only on Jesus

Jim Hylton, a pastor—be open to the Spirit and the kingdom

Leighton Ford, a Presbyterian pastor—be a healthy person

Bobb Biehl, executive mentor—management

Bob Buford, entrepreneur/author—dream big

What did you learn on the job you wish you learned in seminary?

What the world is like, how mean Christians can be and how a few people can stop everything.

What has been the impact of ministry on your family?

Our family did good in the ministry. I grew up in a preacher’s home, and I think that prepared me.

Name some of your favorite books (other than the Bible) or authors, and explain why.

Leo Tolstoy, Dallas Willard, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Stanley Jones: All their books on the kingdom of God

Fareed Zacharias: World 2.0. He helped me understand the world.

What is your favorite Bible verse or passage?

Colossians 1:15-20

Who is your favorite Bible character (other than Jesus)? Why?

Jeremiah—he heard God

Name something about you that would surprise your church.

Dang, I’ve been here 31 years; not sure. I go to crazy places in the world—and sometimes I really do get afraid and have to remind myself God is in control.

If you could get one “do over” in ministry, what would it be, and why?

Have an executive pastor like I have today with me since I began!

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