I recently had the opportunity to attend the AMP Conference here in Southern California hosted by Reasons to Believe. It was a wonderful weekend with presentations from Jeff Vines, Sarah Sumner, Sean McDowell, J. Warner Wallace, Fazale Rana, Hugh Ross, Mary Jo Sharp, Abdu Murray, John Njoroge, and Mark Mittelberg. Each of the speakers approached the weekend’s theme from a unique way with topics including: conversations that count, intolerance, the science of Genesis, the problem of evil, Islam, and reaching people in a secular world.
The thing that immediately caught my attention was that the speakers were preparing the audience to have wisdom in evangelism, yet they were teaching apologetics. It is the same reason that J. Warner Wallace says, “In this day and age, evangelism is spelled A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S.” Our culture is at a point where we have to take a different tactic in the way we approach evangelism. People are being exposed to different religions today like never before, and this is causing people to ask questions. I was talking to my dad over the weekend and I asked him how much he knew about other religions while growing up. He grew up in a very small town where everyone he spent time with went to the same church and the same school. He said that he grew up in a bubble where he wasn’t exposed to other world religions and different belief systems. There was no reason to question his beliefs.
As much as we want to protect the youth today and keep them in a bubble as long as we can, it has become an impossible task. Young people are being exposed to materialistic philosophy, the sexual culture, and every worldview you can think of whether it is from TV shows or social media. This is causing them to ask questions, and to be effective in reaching them we need to have answers. We as Christians have to be open to use different ways to reach our culture. It is possible that someone only needs a simple Gospel presentation to see the truth of Christianity, maybe your testimony will help them see the Gospel, or maybe you will have to discuss philosophy and science in order to break down the walls. I’m not saying that apologetics is the only answer, and apologetics doesn’t save anyone. It is only one of many tools that the Holy Spirit can use to bring people to God. I believe that in order to be prepared, we need to know the answers. We need to have every tool ready and know how to use each one so the next time we are in a conversation the Holy Spirit can use anything necessary to help the person see the Gospel.
The problem for many Christians is that they know the Gospel message and they know their testimony, but many don’t know how to answer some of the difficult questions. Are you ready to respond when someone says they won’t believe in a God approves of slavery, genocide, and the oppression of women? Do you have an answer when someone says that Muslims are going to heaven because they worship the same God as Christians? Can you explain why a student should believe in creation after their teacher has lectured on the “truth” of Darwinian evolution? What do you say when your son or daughter comes home from college and tells you how the resurrection is a myth created by the early church based on pagan gods?
These are the questions being asked by people today; especially the youth. In order to do evangelism well and be wise in our interaction with non-Christians, we need to be prepared to use whatever is needed to help them come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and that includes knowing the answers to the tough questions.