(405) 425-5070
Lynn Anderson and his wife, Carolyn
Photo by Shaun Best / Abilene Christian University

HOPE Network Ministries founder Lynn Anderson dies at 85

Memorial services for the beloved minister are planned for May 31 at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio.

ABILENE, Texas — Lynn Anderson, beloved minister, mentor to three generations of ministers around the world and founder of HOPE Network Ministries, died May 12 at age 85. Memorial services are planned for 4 p.m. May 31 at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio.

Anderson was born Sept. 22, 1936, in Kincaid, Saskatchewan, Canada. After graduating from high school at Canada’s Western Christian College, he attended Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., where he met and married Carolyn Bridges.

Related: Little church on the prairie: God’s work in Gravelbourg

After graduating from Harding University in Searcy, Ark., with a B.A. in 1959, he earned an M.A. in 1965 from Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn., and did doctoral work at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. In 1990 he was the first person to cross the stage in the first graduating class of Abilene Christian University’s Doctor of Ministry program, a distinction he loved to share.

The Andersons first served a church together from 1960 to 1964 in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada. In 1964-65 he preached in Lepanto, Ark., and then established a congregation in Kelowna, British Columbia, where he ministered for six years. Though most of his life was spent in the U.S., he always considered himself Canadian.

Lynn Anderson

Lynn Anderson

From 1971 to 1990, Anderson preached for the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, which grew to more than 2,200 members during his tenure.

Eddie Sharp’s 20-year tenure in the pulpit at University Church of Christ in Abilene overlapped for 10 years with Anderson’s time at Highland. He called Anderson “a serial encourager” to other young ministers in town.

“For many years, Lynn, Rick Atchley, Terry Bell and later Dwight Robarts and I met together every week for breakfast. That consistent fellowship with Lynn allowed him to encourage us and build us up,” Sharp recalled. “He gathered groups of ministers and others to breathe the life of Christ into them using the gifts the Holy Spirit was giving him.”

David Wray, longtime elder at Highland and director of ACU’s Summit ministry conference, was a Highland staff member with Anderson. He described him as the “best combination of task person and people person of anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Wray recalled Anderson beginning his day in Bible study from 3:30 or 4 a.m. until noon.

“Then he’d have lunch with someone from Highland, often someone who disagreed with him, and he’d listen to them and take notes about their concerns,” Wray said. “He’d keep those notes on his desk for weeks and pray over them and get back with the person to listen some more.”

Mike Cope, director of the Harbor Bible Lectures at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., followed Anderson in the Highland pulpit. “The old saying is that you don’t want to follow a much-loved, long-tenured minister. But with Lynn it was easy because, in addition to being a good friend, he remained a constant encourager and guide in my life.”

Worship minister Jeff Nelson served with Anderson for five years at Highland and five at the Preston Road Church of Christ in Dallas from 1991 to 1996. Nelson said he is one of many who found his passion for ministry through his association with Anderson.

Related: Review: Why the Psalms matter in today’s church

“What Lynn taught me and spoke into me allowed me to walk away from a career I loved, into the unknown ministry of worship, which has defined me for the past 40 years,” Nelson said. “I added his name in the margin of Hebrews 11 in my Bible; a true hero of faith!”

When Anderson left the pulpit role at Highland to devote more time to writing and travel, he said, “I want my books to go where I can’t go and last longer than I last.”

True to his dream, writing and mentoring became the focus of his work for the past 30 years.

Beginning in 1992, he authored several books, including two volumes of “They Smell Like Sheep: Spiritual Leadership for the 21st Century” (2011), “Longing for a Homeland: Discover the Place You Belong” (2004), “The Jesus Touch: Learning the Art of Relationship From the Master” (2002), “If I Really Believe, Why Do I Have These Doubts?” (2000), “Navigating the Winds of Change: How to Manage Change in the Church” (1994) and “Freshness for the Far Journey: Reflections on Preaching As We Step Toward the 21st Century” (1992).

In 1996, he founded and devoted his full-time work to leadership development and coaching through HOPE Network Ministries. Grady King, co-leader of HOPE Network, said Anderson shaped his ministry profoundly.

“Lynn and Carolyn Anderson walked in the trenches of ministry with hundreds of people. He was, in every sense of the word, a ‘pastor’ feeding and caring for people.”

“Many people know what it is to be sought out and loved by Lynn Anderson: lover of God, lover of people, kingdom heart, soul and mind,” King said. “Lynn and Carolyn Anderson walked in the trenches of ministry with hundreds of people. He was, in every sense of the word, a ‘pastor’ feeding and caring for people.”

Along the way, Anderson taught ministry courses at Pepperdine University and the Preston Road Center for Christian Education.

He spent 30 years as an adjunct professor at ACU, where he taught Bible, missions and cross-cultural communication, befriending and inspiring many young ministers.

For 19 years, Anderson’s preaching attracted thousands of college students to the Highland congregation. One of them was Max Lucado, who went on to mission work in Brazil and preaching and became the top-selling Christian author.

“During those days he was teaching through the Gospel of John,” Lucado said in a 2018 profile of the Andersons by Dawn Cole in ACU Today magazine.

Max Lucado

Max Lucado

“I’d never heard the story of Jesus presented in such a joyfully contagious manner,” Lucado said. For a graduation gift, Lucado asked his sister to purchase all of the messages on cassette tapes. Once he received them, he “put them in a shoebox and listened to them over and over.”

In the days after Anderson’s passing, social media filled with tributes. Mitch Wilburn, minister of The Park Church of Christ in Tulsa, Okla., wrote: “Lynn was a great, great preacher, but he might have been even better with people. He had the ability in a crowded room, with everyone wanting a piece of him, to slow down, stop and make you feel like you were the only one in the room. Just like Jesus.”

Don McLaughlin, minister for North Atlanta Church of Christ in Georgia, wrote: “Perhaps my favorite memory is the way he just wanted to know us. He didn’t want to test us, put us in our place, get us to like him, think like him, or be like him. He trusted Jesus for all of that. He just made you feel like you really mattered. I will always remember him for making me feel that someone like him thought I was worth getting to know.”

“Lynn was a great, great preacher, but he might have been even better with people. He had the ability in a crowded room … to slow down, stop and make you feel like you were the only one in the room. Just like Jesus.”

Anderson received Sweet Publishing’s Excellence in Christian Communication Award in 1994. He and Carolyn were recipients in 2017 of ACU’s Dale and Rita Brown Outlive Your Life Award. His speaking engagements at churches and lectureships took him to several continents.

In 2020, he donated the Robert Lynn Anderson Papers to ACU’s Brown Library, a collection including photographs, cassette tapes and other materials from his more than 50 years in ministry.

Among survivors are his wife, Carolyn, and their four children: Michele English and her husband Wes; Deborah Boggs and her husband Randy; Jon and Joanna Anderson, all of San Antonio; and Christopher Anderson and his wife Marion of Paris, France; 10 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one sister.

His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor Anderson’s life do so with memorial gifts to: HOPE Network Ministries (earmarked for “Legacy”), Growing Love Network, or the Lynn and Carolyn Anderson Endowed Scholarship for Doctor of Ministry.

Filed under: Features Highland Church of Christ HOPE Network Ministries Lynn Anderson Max Lucado National obituary People Top Stories

Don’t miss out on more stories like this.

Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.

Did you enjoy this article?

Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.

Personal Info

Dedicate this Donation

In Honor/Memory of Details

Card Notification Details

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.
Billing Details

Donation Total: $3 One Time