Let's face it. The majority of us live lives in quiet confusion, opting not to become philosophers, scientists, or to pursue doctorates in the ancient languages. Most of us choose to become businessmen, corporate executives, shopkeepers, or lawyers, taking the path of more acceptable careers. We just want to get by and live out our lives – whether it is well lived or not.
While most of these careers allow the critical thinkers to shine and excel in their distinct fields of enterprise, many still opt not to go beyond what can be readily understood and what they can accept as believably true; and they are comfortable to stay there.
In the Christian culture, those that stray into fields like Christian apologetics are labeled either "weird" or "high fallutin' " by the majority of well-meaning churchgoers. Many see the time spent thinking in college as all that is needed; if you get past that you don't need to think as much. Now the time spent thinking could be better used making more money or doing something worth our time. That's the reality.
Therefore, why are we surprised if our church congregations do not prefer to include the discipline of apologetics in their disciple-making programs - if any exist in the first place? There are welcoming committees, host teams, program and production groups, worship groups, child care groups, and the coffee corner. Yet for the hard questions of faith, the "customer care" position is usually not available. We don’t get involved because the pastor should be in charge of the hard questions and the stock replies don't include enough time to explain "Why is there pain and suffering in this world if God exists?"
Thinking through difficult matters of faith is not required. It takes too much research, and most of those trained in the ministry have been taught how to build a church from ground up and to keep it free from conflict so Sunday gatherings grow bigger. There are just too many more important things to attend to than these questions. That's the general attitude of most congregations and their leaders. For more insight into Christian living, read a book by John Piper, John MacArthur, or Philip Yancey. Mention NT Wright and you'll get a glassy stare with a whispered, “Oh my, he's one of them.”
It's for these reasons that I've stopped hoping for opportunities to participate in mainstream congregations as an apologist wannabe. Happily, today's social media provides the opportunity to subtly influence other friends and associates to appreciate the discipline of apologetics. It's a great delight to see how people you never expected to "like" a post you shared on your Facebook wall begin to appreciate a part of your worldview and absorb it.
Social media becomes an unobtrusive way of influencing people to be more critical in their thinking and to appreciate Orthodox Christianity from a higher plane. A few people I knew to be pretty superficial in the way they lived out their beliefs have probably become more introspective as a result. Many more have come to appreciate CS Lewis' writings. Quite a lot are more familiar with my favorite philosophers and academics: William Lane Craig, Doug Groothuis, Michael Licona, Tim McGrew, William Dembski, Stephen Meyer, Paul Copan, and many others.
There is joy in seeing more people shift from posting shallow, mainstream Christian sentiments to sharing posts with quotes from people like Francis Schaeffer, Tim Keller and Netbible.org. These become starting points for good conversations during wedding anniversary celebrations, industry events, school reunions, and other get-togethers where people you haven't seen for quite a while sidle up to you and ask: "You've really come up front with your faith now, haven't you? What's up? Are you becoming a preacher now?"
Then you start letting them have it - piece by little piece. It usually doesn't end up with a commitment to follow the King immediately, but it does get them thinking again. Some will take to researching what you've said and find out it’s true. I know, because some have actually called to tell me they have done so.
Some of my friends, who used to believe in the Gospel as intensely as I do, have again begun to fan the flames of their own belief because of encounters like these. They’ve taken the starting points of my online links to unearth their own treasures and they've renewed their first love as a result; they sought and they found.
This shows that they're eager to dig out the truth of the treasures that come from our rich Christian heritage, which is helping reshape their thinking. They becoming more like the children of the Living God, as the Lord Jesus desires so greatly.
So then -if you feel that you can't get the apologetics fire started within the containers of your own church congregation - take heart. There's a whole world out there on social media where you can start to show people the rational positions of the Kingdom which we've been tasked to proclaim – the Kingdom that’s accessible through our King, the Son of the Living God.
Get out of that box and cast your nets further than you thought possible. You can do it from the confines of your home, which is a pretty good starting point.