Brent Rome is Lead Pastor of One Family Church in Saint Louis, which he and others launched in 2011 while he was working full-time as an attorney. It’s now a thriving congregation (and he’s now fulltime as pastor), particularly invested in creating a multicultural, multiracial church, a few blocks from the campus of Washington University, Saint Louis. Brent is also a member of our Board of Directors at Science for the Church.
Part of Our Team
Brent, your support and friendship and your modeling of how to bring together faith and science into a congregation is a continual inspiration for me and my co-director Drew Rick Miller. I begin with a word of thanks.
I am always inspired by you and Drew and what you’re doing. After we’ve jumped on a call, I walk away exhilarated about the direction of the church and thankful for the work you’re doing. I think Science for the Church is an extremely valuable organization that will grow in impact over the years. I’m honored to be a part of it.
Preaching and Science
One Family Church has organized specific programs on science and faith, like STEAM (Science and Theology for Emerging Adult Ministries), but what’s more impressive is how you have integrated science organically throughout the church’s ministries, particularly in preaching. Please share a little bit about how you bring science to church?
I love bringing science into my preaching. I also make sure I talk to scientists beforehand! That way what I say is factually accurate. This means I am cautious to make sure that I’m not stretching a scientific concept to fit within a theological idea that I’m trying to promote—that’s where things can really go awry. People can now Google while you’re preaching!
I agree with what I hear Science for the Church saying: science is a form of worship. Studying the work of a painter is a way of honoring the painter, seeing the work of an artist is a way of honoring the artist. And so, when we study the work of creation, we are studying, learning about, God. Everything God makes is a reflection of God.
When we do science, study science, or incorporate science into a sermon, we’re incorporating general revelation. We’re incorporating God’s handiwork and the creative brilliance of the God we serve. It’s another kind of sermon illustration for me.
And those illustrations strengthen a sermon. They enhance my preaching and also signal to people who are scientists and are serious about the life of the mind that I am also are serious about those things. It signals that I am not going to denigrate science or take a combative stance toward science. Science is not in conflict with what we are doing in worship.
- Check out the entire interview with Brent on our YouTube channel, with more on how One Family Church has worked to be multi-racial and how Brent preaches on race, science, and faith.
- Here’s a brief video from the church’s work on The Standard Model where Brent has a lively discussion with scientist and church member Halle Neyens.
- The work of computational biologist and physician S. Joshua Swamidass on The Genealogical Adam and Eve represents one resource from One Family Church’s STEAM project. You can explore his work in more depth on his website.
- Brent presented a powerful series on science and race, “Reimagining Race through the Eyes of God.”
- His Easter 2020 sermon (at around 11:00) masterfully engages examples from biology.
- Check out our preaching-related resources, which include guidance and examples on how to integrate science in sermons.
Humility, Creativity, and Curiosity
You have a humility about you—a creativity and curiosity, which are all really important. These attributes have to come together if we as pastors are going to engage science. We have to say, “I’m going to be curious and bold. But I’m also going to be humble. I don’t know everything, and I need to learn, and I’m also not going to preach beyond what I’ve learned.”
I don’t overstate my knowledge and that gives the congregation some assurance—particularly the scientists—that they are in a safe environment for people who think deeply. So, in that sense, I remain cautious about my own knowledge.
We have this paradigm called The Standard Model, which pairs a scientist with a church professional, usually a pastor. When churches are working out how to connect science and faith, relationships with scientists are key. In the process, it also validates their call to science.
I’m definitely always curious about what scientists are thinking and what they’re doing. I want to learn from them and grow by listening. As a result, scientists seem to be interested in what I’m doing as a pastor, like teaching theological ideas—that’s just my normal thing. But it’s interesting because there’s a mutual curiosity there. When we’re genuinely interested and not intimidated, we reap the rewards, not only in the relationships, but also in the sermons and the quality of what we can present to our congregations.
A Message for the Church
Is there any particular message you would like people to hear, or any angle that you want the church to know about, in engaging science?
My big statement to my fellow pastors is: Don’t be afraid to engage science for the church, as it truly will enhance the spiritual life of your congregation.
Maybe there are some pastors that are not afraid at all. But a lot of pastors are sensitive because they know that people in their congregations have different views about science. From my experience at One Family Church, I would say you will be surprised by how grateful your congregation will be just by you opening conversations. The initial awkwardness or discomfort that you may experience will immediately be swallowed up by the gratitude and the spiritual growth of the congregation.
So, go for it. Lean into this, make this a part of the life of your church. And then watch the fruit grow.
Wrapping It Up
That’s a great place to end. Brent, the way you bring together faith in science is inspiring to me and to many others. Thank you so much for this conversation and for your congregation as well.
Thank you. And be encouraged because I believe that what Science for the Church is doing is timely and extremely important to where we are as a culture. It is part of where the church needs to go. So, thank you.