Dr. Robert Lynn Anderson (’90 D.Min.), beloved evangelist and mentor of ministers around the world, and Abilene Christian University’s first doctoral graduate, died May 12, 2022, at age 85.
Anderson was born Sept. 22, 1936, in a farming and ranching community in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. After graduating from high school at Western Christian College, he attended Freed-Hardeman University and graduated from Harding University with a B.A. degree in 1959. He earned a M.A. degree in 1965 from Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tennessee, and did doctoral work at Fuller Theological Seminary.
The Andersons first served a church together from 1960-64 in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada. In 1964-65 he preached in Lepanto, Arkansas, and then established a congregation in Kelowna, British Columbia, where he ministered for six years. From 1971-90 he preached at Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, and from 1991-96 he preached at Preston Road Church of Christ in Dallas.
Following these congregational ministries, he founded and devoted his full-time work to leadership development and coaching through HOPE Network Ministries. Along the way, he taught ministry courses at Pepperdine University and Preston Road Center for Christian Education.
During his three decades as an adjunct professor at ACU, he taught Bible, missions and cross-cultural communication, befriending and inspiring many young ministers, including Max Lucado (’77) and Rick Atchley (’78). For 19 years, Anderson’s preaching attracted thousands of Abilene Christian college students to the Highland congregation.
“During those days he was teaching through the Gospel of John,” said Lucado in a 2018 profile of the Andersons by Dawn (Treat ’89) Cole in ACU Today magazine.
“I’d never heard the story of Jesus presented in such a joyfully contagious manner,” said Lucado. For a graduation gift, Lucado asked his sister to purchase all of the messages on cassette tapes. Once he received them, “I put them in a shoebox and listened to them over and over.”
Anderson received Sweet Publishing’s Excellence in Christian Communication Award in 1994. He and his wife, Carolyn Anderson, whom he met while they were students at Freed-Hardeman, were recipients in 2017 of Abilene Christian’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 as a church planter, minister and lecturer. The couple are namesakes of the Lynn and Carolyn Anderson Endowed Scholarship for Doctor of Ministry.
Anderson was widely published and authored several books, including 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)
Among survivors are his wife, Carolyn; daughters Michele (Anderson ’82) English and Deborah (Anderson ’82) Boggs; sons Jon Anderson (’86) and Christopher Anderson (’92); 10 grandchildren; 11 great grandchildren; and one sister.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in his memory can be made to HOPE Network Ministries (earmarked for “Legacy”), Growing Love Network, or ACU’s Lynn and Carolyn Anderson Endowed Scholarship for Doctor of Ministry (online or Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132).
– Robin Saylor
May 16, 2022