The Spiritual Readiness Project is asking apologetics-interested lay people, students, professors, writers and speakers to join in our Apologetics Interest survey. If you haven’t filled it out already, please do so as soon as possible.
Yet you might wonder why, and where this is heading. It’s a good question; thanks for asking!
Our main purpose is to discover what has sparked people’s interest in apologetics, so we can help create or collate ways to spread that around, and see more apologetics in the local church.
Apologetics in the Church: Understanding the Problem So We Can Solve It
Sometimes I fear we approach the question of apologetics in the church like other apologetics questions: How can we build a case for it? That’s valid, except the very people we’re trying to reach are the ones who aren’t into case-making the way we are! For them it’s not an apologetics problem. It’s a motivation issue.
We’ve gathered a working list of potential motivational hindrances to research, things that may keep churches from investing time and resources in apologetics. Yet it makes sense to start with what’s worked for those of us who really do care about apologetics. We expect that will help us develop better ways to overcome those motivational barriers.
The Loneliness of the Lay Apologist
In this research we’re also exploring the apologist’s loneliness. Informally I’ve seen evidence of its being a widespread concern: thinking Christians feel isolated in their churches. We want to understand this better, so we can explain it to church leaders more compellingly.
We know it’s a real issue that’s causing real harm in the body of Christ, but we won’t get far with just telling church leaders, “Your thinking people feel isolated here.” They’ll file that low on their list of priorities. We’ve got to explain it more compellingly.
That leads to another layer of information we’re gathering along with the survey, by the way: Would you share your story? What’s it like for you?
Long-Term Qualified Research Project
You’ve done lots of surveys and polls on the web. Usually there’s a quick, “Hey, what do you all think about this?” feel to them. This one is different. Our team members all have formal training and experience in survey research. One member of our team, Allen Shoemaker, has both taught research methods at the college level and practiced it around the world. The rest of us have formal training and experience as well.
And this research is part of a focused, long-term, ongoing effort to understand the question of apologetics in the Church. Like you, we believe Christians have always needed reasons for confidence, but like you we also see its importance rising quickly. I for one am making it high priority, and I intend to lead this project through to real answers that we’ll make freely available to you and to the Church — starting with this research, which we’ll report on to you early in 2019.
Please contact us if you’re interested in being involved in the project.
If you’re like a lot of people in apologetics, you’ve wondered about the state of apologetics in the Church. You’ve asked what you can do to increase awareness, interest, and knowledge — especially as you see the world turning increasingly hostile toward Christianity.
Or you might be here as one who’s not sure about this apologetics thing. Either way, your input is needed here. It will take you anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how detailed your answers are.
Your extremely valuable participation, along with hundreds of others, will help us help you discover what encourages pastors to unleash apologetics in their churches, what motivates church members to learn, what equips apologists for their best possible ministry, and more. We’re aiming toward books, web pages, equipping conferences, and a strong resource library and knowledge base right at this location.
This is the first research stage in a five-year program of research, networking, equipping, and training Christians in Spiritual Readiness.
Spiritual readiness is simply being prepared for the challenges we and our churches can expect to encounter as followers of Christ. Anti-Christian hostility is growing in North America — up 15 percent in just one year, by one measure. Our faith is routinely ridiculed, denounced as “hate,” dismissed as “foolish” and “anti-science,” and attacked as “privileged.”
Few of us in the church are ready for what’s ahead of us. We’ve got work to do: first, to be the kind of people God wants us to be; second, to show that the charges are false, and Christ’s ways are good and true; and through it all, to remain faithful no matter what’s brought against us.
The Spiritual Readiness Project exists to help prepare Christians for those challenges. We do it by promoting (a) strong teaching of comprehensive biblical truth, and (b) reasons for confidence that it is both true and good.
Preparing So We’re Not Surprised
Every Christian in every age has faced challenges that are common to all of us: health, problems, family heartaches, financial straits, and conflict near and far. We’re not here to cover those familiar challenges. The church is experienced in them already. We’re focusing on the new, rapidly-rising, and unfamiliar challenge of anti-Christian hostility in our culture.
Have you ever heard of being prepared to be surprised? It doesn’t sound real, but it’s a good description of American Christianity. 1 Peter 4:12 tells us not to be surprised at the fiery trial coming upon us, as if something strange were happening to us. But we’ve had decades of experience preparing us not to expect trials. We’ve been prepared to be surprised by it when it comes — and it has.
Catching Up In Our Preparation
That’s why we must focus now on preparing for the real thing: following Christ no matter what. What kind of preparation do we need? Consider a list like this one:
A living connection with Jesus Christ
A strong, united community as believers
Loving, self-sacrificial outreach that reflects the grace and truth of Jesus Christ
Knowing what we believe; being firmly grounded in it
Knowing why we believe it
They’re all important. None matters more than any other. But the last two, knowing what we believe and why, need special attention, because we’re lagging far behind on them. We’ve got to catch up on them, or we won’t be ready.
Here at the Spiritual Readiness we honor all the church has done in its teaching and work on life in Christ, community, and outreach. We’re not looking to add anything there. We’re focused instead on gearing up for what American Christians have never geared up for before.
God has very good things in store for us, even in these darkening times — if we’re ready to receive it.