Since 2006, with help from like-minded friends, ReThink315’s founder and Executive Director, Jeremy R. Smith, has been challenging teenagers, and those who love them, to seriously consider what they believe, why they believe it, and why it matters. From 2010-2020, Jeremy and his team ran annual summer camps for teens focusing on Biblically faithful answers to the toughest questions young people were asking and being asked. In May of 2020, COVID closed some of those doors. But God, we believe, opened even better ones.
In October of 2020, with Jeremy as a common denominator, a diverse group of ministry leaders, college professors, and Christian apologists launched ReThink315 to help pastors, parents, and Christian educators to ReThink the ways in which we are using Christian apologetics to reach, train, and retain our young people. Soon after, ReThink315’s mission, vision, and values were written, bylaws were codified, a theologically conservative and denominationally diverse board was selected, and ReThink315 became an official nonprofit organization. Since then, ReThink315 has continued to help churches and Christian institutions through services and programs including but not limited to student surveys, consulting and training, church and school events, summer camps, student retreats, and conferences.
What does ReThink315 mean?
In short, we are helping pastors, parents, and educators to ReThink their approach to interpreting and applying everyone’s favorite “apologetics proof text”, 1 Peter 3:15. Specifically in terms of how we are using Christian apologetics to reach, train, and retain young people. It’s true that Peter’s words, in context, are more about our faithful Christian witness under persecution than clever arguments for God’s existence. However, “honoring Christ The Lord as holy” and “defending the hope we have” in Jesus is just as important now as it was in the first century. Furthermore, doing all this with “gentleness and respect” is is doubly important. If our defense is harsh and disrespectful, we may be engaged in apologetics, but it’s certainly not Christian apologetics. While there are many important topics for Christian apologists and evangelists to address, we encourage and challenge Christians of all ages to “ReThink” Peter’s exhortation and to take seriously the importance of carrying out Christian apologetics and evangelism in a way that honors Christ the Lord as holy and is, above all else, gentle and respectful.
What is ReThink315’s philosophy of ministry?
We’re excited to see a growing interest in the study and application of Christian apologetics in Churches and Christian institutions, particularly in youth and young adult ministry. As it relates to apologetics specifically and evangelism generally, like we said, we believe Peter’s call to offer a defense, an answer, and a “word back” is as important now as it was in the first century. But, understanding and applying Peter’s words in this verse requires us to take seriously 1st Peter 3:15 in its entirety.
Peter instructs believers of all ages to prepare themselves for the task of defending and explaining the faith as follows:
- First, the believer is to “sanctify Christ as Lord” in their hearts, meaning, as the old Harvard mission statement put it, “to lay Christ in the bottom” as the only foundation for education and engagement.
- Second, the believer is to be prepared with a verbal “defense (apologia) to everyone who asks…” We are to offer a word of explanation or rebuttal back to the objections leveled against the Christian faith.
- Third, the believer must also exhibit and maintain a gracious tone and attitude. While we must have something to say in reply or defense, we must say it with “gentleness and respect”.
If apologists and evangelists are to be prepared for and effectively engaged in conversations about Christianity, then each of these areas raised by Peter must mutually reinforce each other. Tragically, as too many examples testify, defending and explaining Christianity without a Christ centered foundation or a respectful tone undermines and contradicts our claims to possess the truth and to speak for Jesus.
That being said, our teaching team and guest speakers are practically and prayerfully vetted to ensure that their heart posture and their tone, especially towards non-Christians and hurting Christians, is as impressive as their professional resumes.
What is ReThink315’s organizational purpose?
Our purpose can be summed up in our mission and vision.
To increase the number of Christians clearly and confidently sharing the gospel and to reduce the number of professing Christians, particularly our young people, leaving the church due to unanswered (or poorly answered) questions.
We envision a world where more churches and individual believers are creating space for better conversations, offering better answers to difficult questions, and are engaging non-Christians and struggling Christians with gentleness and respect.
What motivates us?
Contemporary objections to the Christian faith are numerous and a general distrust of the American church is now normative. While these trends impact all of us, the toll it’s taking on our young people is particularly troubling. Being prepared to offer a gentle and respectful defense for the hope we Christians have is so very critical.
Read more about our leadership team and speakers here.