Quite a bit has happened since I penned my last blog almost two years ago. Without diminishing the importance of those that blog regularly and faithfully, my ministry tends to be a street-level, on-the-ground type of ministry that does not allow a lot of time for writing blogs. Perhaps I should consider changing that.
As I’ve embarked on a new season in seeking a doctorate in theology and apologetics, what writing I do engage in has been largely academic and the creation of lessons for my upcoming third edition of Discipleship: Equipping and Apologetics curriculum which expands from the current 32 lessons to 48. I expect it to be published mid-summer. Editing is complete, minus a few minor updates (do they ever stop?) and packaging/publishing has been largely sorted out.
In January, I moved from paid, part-time status as the Pastor of Equipping and Apologetics at my church, Hill Country Fellowship, to full-time. With that, I now teach classes an average of five times per week with some weeks seeing more. So, what has two years since my last blog seen in the area of equipping and apologetics within my ministry?
Students: Still the heart of why I do what I do, little has changed in this arena in the way of class offerings. We still study basic apologetics, worldview and Scripture. What has changed significantly is many of my students have been studying with me for two years, some for three. Also, these students are now teaching others.
During our VBS last year (“Camp HCF”), I had four students teach a 30-minute lesson to over 70 six graders. Ella taught an introduction to apologetics and the reliability of the Bible, Jorden taught them the difference between Biblical artifacts vs. evidence, Jonathan taught on several archaeological finds that confirmed certain biblical accounts and Kylie taught on how the fine-tuning of the universe points to our Creator. By the way, none of these students were old enough to drive yet.
In two years, we’ve taken multiple field trips; Dunham Bible Museum, Probe Ministries, Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, reTHINK Student Apologetics Conference, Reasons to Believe chapter meetings, and more recently, the McDonald Observatory in West Texas this past December.
We’ve seen two students attend Summit’s two-week intensive worldview and apologetics conference. We had one student, Judson, receive the Legatus Christi award from Ratio Christi, their highest award for exceptional students that use their training in apologetics to proclaim and defend the Gospel.
Two other students, Kylie and Jorden, created a one-hour presentation on their McDonald Observatory Field Experience and presented it to the entire youth group on a Wednesday night, as well as multiple small-group meetings and the church’s adult apologetics class. They are also scheduled to present their session to Hugh Ross’s Reasons to Believe Austin chapter in July. We think this will be the first time this scientific apologetics organization will be addressed by high school students.
We continue our affiliation with Ratio Christi College Prep, a high school apologetics organization through Ratio Christi (www.ratiochristi.org).
Adults: In addition to the basic apologetics sessions offered on Sunday mornings, we have submitted the paperwork to become a Reasonable Faith chapter under William Lane Craig. This group meets on Thursday evenings every week and while at times studies content similar to Sunday morning classes, we often study deeper subjects, driven by events happening in culture. In this regard, these evening sessions are more focused toward worldview issues.
4-1-2 is our church’s primary means of increasing knowledge of core doctrinal beliefs. The name is from Ephesians 4:12 which reads “for the equipping of the saints.” Other pastors and I share during this two-hour session (which includes a 30-minute dinner break). The six sessions are 1.) The Church, 2.) The Word, 3.) The Great Commandments, 4.) The Great Commission, 5.) Culture Shift and 6.) You Lost Me. Each session is intended to help those in attendance grow deeper in their knowledge of their faith and the worldview issues that can either shape them or destroy them. These sessions are offered every two months.
Suffice to say, the four “I’s” of my earlier blogs have played out and apologetics is now instilled as part of our church culture. I’m blessed beyond measure that I’m at a church whose leadership understands the importance of the words found in 1 Peter 3:15: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” In today’s culture, we can do no less.