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The Table Video

Richard Mouw

How Pastors Can Promote Conviction & Civility - Richard Mouw

President Emeritus and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
October 25, 2014

Are conviction and civility really opposed? How can churches promote convicted civility? Richard Mouw, president emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary, shares his thoughts on how pastors and church leaders can maintain conviction AND keep conversations civil.


You know if a church were to come to you and say, “Professor Mouw, what is the one, or two or three prescriptions you would give us as a local church to foster, this kind of convicted civility.” And these are people who are looking for just a way to begin to grow in this area. What would your response be?

Well, I think one is, I think there needs to be pastoral models of empathy. You know, even just the way we pray and who we pray for. Wouldn’t it be great to pray for the sons and the gay and lesbian sons and daughters of this congregation?

A lot of parents our there are really hurting and just to say, “This is a congregation that wants to support people who are struggling with that.” “And parents of people who are struggling with that.” So the way we pray and who we pray for, pray for your Muslim neighbors. I mean boy they must be scared.

Right after 911, you know, one of, that morning, our communications person called me as president of the institution and said, what should we do? I said, well first thing, call the Muslim center in Los Angeles and tell them we’re praying for them because this must be a frightening time for local Muslims. Little Muslim kids got beat up walking home from school in Orange County.

There are some nuns that went and walked them home from school, you know. Just to be safe. What a wonderful thing to do. And to think about those kinds of gestures and to lift those up as models of you know, imagine what it’s like to be a seven year old Muslim girl on a day when her nation is at war with Muslim terrorists. And how people look at her and how frightened she must be. And wouldn’t it be great for a Christian just to go and say, I’m gonna walk along, you know, you don’t have to hold my hand or anything, I’m just gonna walk alongside you because I wanna be sure that you get home safe. What a wonderful thing to do.

Then I think to model dialogue you know, to not necessarily at the pulpit but, maybe after the sermon to have people disagree about some things. Weather it’s the next election or healthcare or whatever. Just to talk together to try to it in ways that honor each other. The gentleness and reverence toward other. I think the church can be a workshop in civility and it’s a good thing to think of ways in which we can do that.