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I Apologeticize...

Let me set up what I want to share with you with a few separate illustrations:

Illus 1:
Today I spoke with a former member of our church who helped us get off of the ground. Their family had moved about 3 hours west and in spite of my best effort to convince them to make that drive every week, they felt that it was best to be involved in a church near their home. My friend informed me that they had recently discovered that one of the families in their community are Mormon. The kids play together and they are open to friendship. My friend went on to say that this couple was devout but open to coming into their home for bible study. Wow! Here it is... a great opportunity to reach out to their neighbors!

So what was the discussion about? It was about "How?" How do they reach out to this family? What are the belief systems? What about the book of Mormon? My friends are willing but unfortunately hadn't been equipped in any of their previous church experience. Remembering that I spoke about Mormonism in the past they decided to call me. I sent my friends a paper I wrote on the topic a few years ago along with some links relevant to their discussion while advising them to become friends and reach out in love.

Illus 2:
This afternoon I was reading up on a new church that is getting started on the campus of Old Dominion University (about 30 minutes from here). This church is the third "college church" started by an amazing group called "Alethia Church" based out of the campus of James Madison University in Harrisburg, VA. (Also on the campus of VCU) Alethia is under the radar of nearly everyone and they probably like it all the same. What is not under my radar however is the tremendous impact they are having for the Kingdom. They are multiplying in places where churches tend to get eaten alive... secular colleges. One thing Alethia is known for is their strength in evangelism. Their Pastors take the bible and evangelism extremely seriously (as we all should). In reading over their blog for the new church I came across a passage talking about one of their core principles. They addressed the question as to why most Christians don't share their faith. The answer? Know-how.

Illus 3:
A Pew Research Study recently indicated that 70% of all Americans believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life". Additionally Pew indicated that 57% of Evangelicals responded in the affirmative to that statement. In my tribe..."Brad Waggoner, vice president of B&H Publishing Group, in his upcoming book "The Shape of Faith to Come," reports that only 69 percent of adults who attend an SBC church at least once a month strongly agree that 'the Bible is the written Word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches.' "

With these three things in mind I'm completely convinced that our churches need to embrace Apologetics as a part of our regular diet.

My friend called not because their family didn't want to reach out... but because they weren't sure how. Alethia is doing well reaching out because they train their people to do so. But Alethia focuses on Apologetics, not a line of memory verses.

America's Christian churches seem to be having a hard time relaying even a basic tenant like "Jesus is THE way to Heaven". In each of these areas some degree of Apologetical teaching is necessary.

A few weeks ago I shared my faith in a Buffalo Wild Wings with a waitress who expressed a hard time believing in absolute truth. Another waiter overheard our conversation and brought up Hammurabi's code. He was attempting to dismiss the validity of biblical law based on the concept that it wasn't the earliest (and thus biblical law was copied from somewhere else). A friend next to me smiled and said "Just because it's the first known date of a discovered set of law doesn't make it the earliest code of law to exist." With that simple suggestion the gentleman bringing the argument against faith smiled and acknowledged that to be true.

In that exchange I smiled inside because I thought "How many people in our churches would have thrown in the towel because they've never even heard who this Hammurabi guy is or what his code represented?"

We live in an interesting era of Christian ministry. We have churches that are dying. We have churches that are growing. We have a population increasing dramatically faster than our church population. We have denominations that are ecstatic for their large influence but aren't eager to talk about their percentage of influence is shrinking when compared to population growth. We have long-time Christians who are great at the church game and lingo but haven't got a clue how to present the gospel. All the while we have pockets of people in the pews who say they want to go "deeper" but they expect one man to take them there.

I'm not certain of a solution right now... just processing my thoughts in front of the world. I don't suggest that churches do the work of a seminary by any means but I would suggest that we offer some form of basic apologetical instruction in our churches from time to time so our people can be equipped to present the claims of the bible as truth. I understand that only a small fraction of our members will desire this training but I'm discovering the value in having this knowledge sprinkled throughout the laity.

A few years ago in frustration of the perceived dumbing-down of American Christianity I told a friend "Seeker-Sensitive doesn't need to mean Seeker-Stupid." I still hold that to be true. Christians are smart enough and in this information age the world is intelligent enough to have Ephesians 4 ministry apply to apologetics as well as parking-lot duty.

What do you think? What works? What are you doing? What's out there for the rest of us? Anyone doing both evangelism and apologetics well?

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Wednesday, August 27, 2008


At 1:10 PM, Blogger Happy Mommy said...

First of all let me say we love being your friend! You are wise beyond your years, your knowledge amazes my husband and myself often. You are a friend who has always challenged me to step outside of what's comfortable, and been very kind when your doing so.
I really appreciate your help, and friendship. We look forward to seeing where God takes this Mormon couple and why God has placed them in our lives. I even feel a little exited, being more equipt with information, to befriend this woman and her children. We will talk more soon. Thanks!


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