Does a pastor have anything to fear from an apologist in his church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I started thinking more about the post that I wrote on Wednesday about being a lonely apologist. One aspect of this I brought out was that too often pastors are very hesitant to let an apologist have any responsibility in the church. It can often be because many of us can be Seminary trained and know what we’re talking about and sadly, some pastors probably fear that their jobs could be in danger.
What should be said to such a pastor? Note that this letter is a hypothetical. I do not have any one pastor in mind. I certainly do not have my own as my pastor freely works with me and wants to utilize me to the best of my ability. My pastor is the exception and not the rule. Too many pastors I have contacted and offered my services to have very quickly passed and said they don’t need that kind of thing. The following then is something I would like to say in a letter.
I don’t want your job.
I have come to you with my skill in Christian apologetics because I want to serve. I am not doing this for money because I am frankly offering this for free. If you want to support me financially in my mission, great. If not, I’d still do it for free anyway because frankly, this is that important. I have studied the topic of Christian apologetics for several years and see it as a vital need in the community.
You are in a special position pastor. People do look up to you and admire you and hear what you have to say, which is nice, but you have so many duties that I am frankly not cut out for. While I could handle doing a sermon, I have no desire to prepare one every week, to handle administrative duties, to have to give counseling, to be on emergency call for hospital visits, and then do everything else you have to do. I really don’t want to lead a church. That’s what you want to do and if you do it well, I have no problem. I just want to mainly teach.
You see pastor, I see too many people falling away on a regular basis. Have you ever had to deal with an apostate from Christianity? I have. I have to answer them every day. I am in a position where I am taking bullets regularly for people in the church. I make it my point to stand on the front lines of the battlefield with a target on me practically so the enemy will go after me and let the defenseless continue on their way.
Pastor. These people often have a huge chip on their shoulder. They are not just outside of Christianity. They are opposed to Christianity. They want to take it away from everyone else. Have you not heard of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation? Have you heard about the books of the new atheists selling well on college campuses? This isn’t just atheism of course, but there’s also the New Age movement, radical Islam, and then just the general loose sexual mores of our culture.
Have you thought about a young person being in your church and he’s just sitting at home watching YouTube in the privacy of his own home? No. I’m not bringing up pornography, though that is a problem, but let’s suppose he’s being a good Christian boy and just listening to songs from his favorite Christian band on YouTube. What’s that related link on the side? Ten questions that every Christian must be able to answer? Pastor. All it takes is one click and the boy’s journey to atheism has begun.
I just spoke about sexuality in the culture today. Do you know the message the youth are getting from the media? Do what you want as long as it feels right and you’re in love. Do you know how many young people in your church could not see a problem with redefining marriage? Do you really think saying “True Love Waits” and giving people a silver ring is going to work when they’re alone with their boyfriend or girlfriend and those hormones start kicking in?
And what will happen if they give in and don’t have the guilt they’re so often promised they will have for having sex before marriage? Do you think they’ll trust the church on anything else as much?
Pastor. I know you might think that if you just stand up and say what the Bible says then that will be sufficient. I wish that were so. If it were though, then all we need is a helicopter or something like that flying overhead with a loudspeaker. Unfortunately, we live in a world that no longer takes the Bible seriously. The Bible is viewed as a joke more than anything else and you can’t just say a Bible verse and expect people to get in line. It’s getting to the point where you can’t even make an allusion to the Bible because most people today are so Biblically illiterate.
Pastor. All of this concerns me. The reality is I see this as very easily prevented. Just give the church a good foundation. Aren’t we supposed to love God with all of our minds? How can it hurt you if the church has a more informed view of God? Isn’t this what we all want? Won’t it make their worship more powerful when they know the reality of who it is they worship? Won’t they be more devoted in prayer when they realize their intellectual life can inform and improve their prayer life? Won’t it help them in their evangelism when they don’t have to walk away at the first objection they meet?
I am sure you pray for our country regularly. I hope you also know that we can do something about it. Before you say we’re a small group, remember Jesus did it with the Roman Empire and he had twelve when he started. Those twelve went out and engaged with the culture. They knew how to take it to them. They weren’t on the defensive. These people were on the offensive and willing to take the Gospel everywhere. Why? They had undeniable evidence that Jesus was who He said He was. It wasn’t just a feeling in their hearts. It was a reality they had seen with their own eyes.
Pastor. I’m just asking you for a chance to serve. In fact, it might not just be me. I also have friends in this area who are apologists and we would be glad to equip your church. We won’t take your pulpit time at all. We won’t change the Sunday or Wednesday night schedule unless you want to do something there. The reality is we just want to serve. We’re not even going to charge you for this service. We just get the greatest joy out of getting to serve.
We are honestly concerned for the state of the church and the state of our country. We don’t want to see young people falling away. Frankly, we all look forward to the day when our jobs wouldn’t be needed. We want to return to the day when you can stand in the pulpit and the Bible is seen by most people as authoritative today. We want to return to the day when people speak of God seriously and not just as a swear word. We want to return to the day when Christians were actively pursuing intellectual goals.
We want to return to a day in this country when Jesus was recognized as Lord.
I don’t want your position pastor. You have your own job and may you do it well. I just want to serve. We are not on opposite sides. We’re on the same side. I may serve in a different way than you do, but I am still just as you are, a servant. I want to help you care for your flock. You don’t have time to read the new atheists and the best works in scholarship. I do. Let me use my abilities to enable you to further use yours so that your flock may be built up.
I’m not your enemy. I’m your ally. I’m not competition. I’m a friend.
I look forward to working with you.