Thanks Be To God!


So much to thank God for this October!

Apologetics for the Church

God is building a team and a structure under my leadership, to answer a question that’s been plaguing me and (I believe) holding the church back for a long time: What will it take to help the church understand the value of Christian apologetics?

It’s hard even to explain the question. I’d call that part of our challenge: A lot of Christians don’t know what apologetics is, and a lot of others see it as a specialty discipline for “people who like that sort of thing.”

Apologetics is (as you may know)  the study and ministry-oriented explanation of reasons for confidence in Christianity. Its name comes from the Greek word for “defense” in 1 Peter 3:15.

It’s crucial for evangelism: How many people shy away from sharing their faith because they’re afraid of questions they won’t be able to answer?

It’s crucial for discipleship, because as writer Dallas Willard once said, many of us are secretly afraid that among people “in the know,” the faith has been “found out to be foolish.” It’s hard to be strong in faith when you’re not confident it’s really real.

Now More Than Ever

But in these days it’s becoming even more crucial as anti-Christian hostility rises more and more in influence, as my friend George Yancey keeps documenting. (I’ve just edited another article on this from Yancey, to be published on The Stream sometime this weekend.)

We’re heading in a direction where many of us may have to decide whether the faith is really worth holding on to. It is, of course, because Jesus Christ is worth all.

But do we know that what we know about Christ is really true? Those who can answer that question yes will stand strong.

Listening and Learning from Pastors

So we’re working with churches and pastors to try to help people learn they can say yes to Christ no matter what. The project’s first step is in its pilot phase. We’re going to pastors to learn from them: What are they dealing with? What issues are most on their minds right now? What effect do they see our changing culture having on their churches?

Our team is in touch with thousands of apologetics-interested individuals through Facebook. We’re building a training program with a short list of questions along those lines, and we’ll be inviting these people to go to their pastors to listen, to learn, to gain from the listening experience themselves, and to report back to us on what they hear.

With that research database we’ll move forward toward designing ideas and strategies that will take real church and pastoral needs into account, as we seek to introduce more Christians to reasons for confidence in the faith.

So Much More To Give Thanks For

There’s much more to thank God for, though. I’m afraid if I do more than list everything, this will go way too long.

  • Sara just started work as the abstinence education director with the (pro-life) Miami Valley Women’s Center. She’s leading a team of more than a dozen people reaching more than 30 schools with training around the Dayton area. It’s 25 hours a week — exactly what she wanted. And although she’s still in the training process, it has all the marks of being just the kind of ministry she was made for.
  • Lisa and Morgan are now active duty Army, as he has always wanted to be. They just moved to his first duty station at Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia.
  • Jonathan’s wedding planning is moving along great — he and Emily will be married on January 20.
  • I’ve got foot surgery coming up again on Monday, this time for a bone that snapped for no apparent reason while I was walking up the driveway from the mailbox.

Oh, Yeah. About That Foot.

That last item might sound more like a really huge prayer request than just one bullet point among several. I certainly do want your prayers — no doubt about that! But this is the fifth surgery on that foot. It’s starting to feel too familiar.*

And maybe, just maybe, the doc thinks recovery will be shorter and easier this time. It always requires a period of strict foot elevation, but maybe only two to three days this time.

I’m so glad Sara has a job now. She’ll be able to get away from taking care of me every day! We’ve got other helped lined up when needed. Still this is probably harder on her than me, especially as she’s transitioning into a new job. Please pray for her.

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).

And thank you for all your prayers and support!

*I’ve been blessed with a couple of serious structural flaws in both feet. I was actually in physical therapy for the other foot when this one broke. That one is feeling much better again now, I’m thankful to say.

Image Credit(s): Calvary Simpsonville.

3 Responses

  1. Tom, of course I’ll pray for your foot surgery, your recovery, healing and patience.

    On the apologetic front, it seems to me that we have lost much (and in some cases all) respect for the Bible as source authority. I know of congregations within a 15 minute drive where one can be a member in good standing and not even OWN a Bible, much less read and study it.

    That said, when working with a skeptic, it is difficult to spout passages of scripture to one who does not accept Biblical authority. However, knowing that the power is not within me, but that the Word is living, active, double-edged, I’ll still do that.

    Many years ago I was listening to a missionary who had been working in the U.S.S.R. He was asked how he convinced the Soviet people to accept the message of a book in which they did not believe. He said, “That’s easy! You preach the Word.” The quester quickly corrected the missionary saying, “No, you misunderstood. I’m talking about people who don’t believe the Bible.” He responded yet again, “You preach the Word!” And Tom, we have to do that! More than anything, that’s the answer to the apologetic question. Preach the Word!

  2. Tom Gilson says:

    I appreciate your prayers!

    I don’t agree that preaching the word is the whole answer, if that’s what you’re saying. It’s certainly the first foundation. But if we preach the word without explaining how we know it teaches real truth, we’re not obeying the word!

  1. October 25, 2017

    […] was sort of buried at the end of my last ministry update: another foot surgery this week. Number 5. It’s hardly front page news now, and I really did […]

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