Wednesday, November 23, 2011

7 Ways for Your Church to Engage

Looking to get apologetics into your church? (There's a podcast about that.) To get started sometimes all it takes is an idea and the vision to make something happen, even if it is small. In Jonathan Morrow's book Think Christianly (interview here) he lists 21 ways for your church to engage at the intersection of faith and culture. Are you ready to look at just seven of them and think about how you might be able to incorporate them into your own church?

  1. Briefly mention current events relevant to faith and culture and include a reference to an article or blog for further exploration.

  2. Sponsor a debate on the existence of God. Consider partnering with another church to sponsor a live event, or you can show a recent one on a DVD. This will provide opportunities for conversations to occur.

  3. Make it a goal that everyone in your church will know how to understand the gospel and effectively talk about it with others. If we don't emphasize it and train people, it won't happen. (Jonathan's picks would be the books Becoming a Contagious Christian and Tactics.) In twelve weeks, you will have people who can confidently and competently engage people in spiritual conversations.

  4. Establish a church resource library. Stock it with the latest DVDs and books in order to equip families on their own schedule. Make a weekly display in a prominent place in your church that signals that you value engaging minds.

  5. Take a spiritual field trip to a local Mormon temple, Buddhist temple, or Muslim mosque. In the six weeks leading up to the trip, study together what Christians believe and why and how it differs from the theology of the particular religion you are going to visit. (for example, go through Know What You Believe by Paul Little or World Religions and Cults 101 by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz). After your tour, spend an hour debriefing about what people learned and answering further questions.

  6. As a church, read and study Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth. This outstanding book will challenge people to love God with all of their lives, not just on Sunday mornings.

  7. Form groups that go through the Truth Project and TrueU. These are excellent DVD series that challenge and equip Christians to think about their faith and build a Christian worldview.
For the other 14 ways for your church to engage, pick up Jonathan Morrow's book Think Christianly: Looking at the intersection of Faith and Culture.

(Adapted with permission)


Anonymous said...

I like #1! Wooohooo! I have long trumpeted the value of linking what goes on in church with the real world. Not just apologetics and evidence, but current events.

Here is a story showing how linking math to current events interests young people in math.


"When families chat about societal issues, they often create simple mathematical models of the events," says Ming Ming Chiu, a professor of learning and instruction at UB's Graduate School of Education with extensive experience studying how children from different cultures and countries learn. "Unlike casual chats, these chats about societal issues can both show the real-life value of mathematics to motivate students and improve their number sense."

The findings, published in the current issue of Social Forces, an international journal of sociology, was the first international study on how conversations among family members affect students' mathematical aptitude and performance in school. Chiu's findings were based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; its Program for International Student Assessment collected almost 110,000 science test scores and questionnaires from 15-year-olds from 41 countries, including 3,846 from the U.S.

If it works for math, it should work for Christianity, too. I think so.

That's one of the reasons why I cover current events relevant to Christianity.

SJBedard said...

Thanks for these recommendations. So important to get apologetics from the apologist to the apologetic church.

Mikel said...

Great list, Brian. I've been excited about Jonathan's work ever since I read Welcome to College.

I'd love to see a resource library stocked with helpful apologetic material in every church. Unfortunately, the churches I've been a part of have either been too poor to have one, or they've been unable to get people to use the materials.

We need to develop a culture of apologetics in our churches so that people will adopt a life of study and practice which the materials can support. Too often, expensive church bookstores or resource centers gather dust and remain underutilized until budgetary considerations shut them down. Doing things like #5, 6, and 7 as a church would go a long way in terms of building that culture of apologetics.

Thanks for posting this, Brian!

Matti said...

Thanks for these tips. In fact I'm starting to plan an apologetic program for our church.

#1 is indeed an important point. I think a lot of church people are struggling how to think about the things they see and hear in the media.

There can be a negative side for having too much emphasis on the heady apologetic stuff. I've noticed in myself that apologetics can be a way to avoid having a real relationship with the Lord. I can become a practical deist.

Too philosophical approach reduces God down to a proposition to be examined and argued rather than thinking of Him as a real person.

That's why we have to see apologetics a part of larger project of spiritual formation, developing a healthy relationship with God. I wonder is there anything written on this balance of apologetics and devotion?

Brian said...


That is an excellent point. Although I don't know anything in particular that has been written about it, it remains one of the things I am interested in seeing addressed.

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