My forehead was hot and a little scratchy. But, that's what normally happens when I wear a Santa Claus hat. I took it off and threw it on the dash of the church minivan as I motioned for two of the teenage guys that I disciple to hop in. We were just leaving our church's Christmas party; it was dark, and they both needed a ride home. As we headed down Cranston Street, the guys talked about the food we’d eaten and the games we’d played. We came to a stoplight. That's when I saw them and knew what I had to do.
I recently attended the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. On Tuesday, Dr. Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, gave his report, emphasizing once again that church plants are more effective in evangelism than established churches. (The report said there were 12.4 attendees for every baptism in a church plant, while there were 19.8 attendees for every baptism in an established church, a 63% greater effectiveness.) This is not new information, as every study done on this since at least 1990 has reported the same results. The question is, why?
“We serve our community because we love our community,” proclaimed the flyer from the new church in town. And in a matter of months they definitely gained a reputation for serving the community well. They painted a school, collected shoes for the homeless, picked up trash after community events and cut up trees that blew over in a storm. It was impressive. And three years later, their church disbanded. That was not so impressive.
It happened as I was on my way to play a board game with friends from church. Someone in my car asked, “So, Molly, why are you going to this?”
Caught off-guard, my eyes switched back and forth between the road ahead and the rearview mirror as I tried to gauge the sincerity of the question. After quick deliberation in silence, I said, “Well, I guess the first reason would be that I was invited.”
More than three dozen people responded to an invitation to follow Christ at a Sportsmen’s Banquet and Wild Game Dinner hosted by New City Church in Bath, Maine, on Oct. 1.
“Hunting is huge here, and the great thing about it is that … a lot of the folks who would find themselves out in the woods or spending time with a community of hunters would probably not be the ones who would be taking their families to church or coming to spiritual things,” said pastor Joel Littlefield.
Does a massive wave of anxiety sweep over you when you think about evangelism and sharing your faith with others? Do you feel intimidated and ill-equipped to share the Gospel message with an oftentimes hostile culture? If your answer is yes to these questions, you are not alone in your angst. The term “apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia. Even though it sounds like our English word “apology,” it means something quite different. Apologia simply means “to give a defense of.” In Scripture we are commanded to defend our faith and engage the false ideas that surround us (II Corinthians 10:3-5, I Peter 3:15), but many of us don’t know where or how to begin. This is where training in Christian apologetics becomes a valuable and even essential tool in evangelizing our friends, family, and neighbors.
Faith. Science. God. Facts. Theories. Sometimes it seems that these words are all opposed to each other. I think they are far more intertwined than we realize, but perhaps not in the way we think. Our post-Christian culture would like to separate science from faith and scientists from belief in God. But that effort to separate these interwoven concepts often forces scientists to accept mere theories as facts ... then to ignore any facts that do not fit the theory. This is causing many young adults to question the validity of their faith, which is exactly the plan of the Enemy. Can faith and science actually complement each other instead of oppose each other?