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. The purpose of ReThink315 is to help churches, schools, and other Christian groups to “ReThink” the ways in which we are reaching, training, and retaining our young people in this challenging cultural moment.
To that end, we are lovingly challenging all Christians to “ReThink” their approach to interpreting and applying, everyone’s favorite “apologetics proof text”, 1st Peter 3:15.
It reads: “…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [an answer, an explanation, a word back (ἀπολογία = apologia)] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”
We believe Peter’s words are as important now as they were in the first century and we’re excited about the growing interest we see in the study and application of Christian apologetics, particularly in youth and young adult ministry. However, understanding and applying Peter’s call, especially in youth and campus ministry, 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 believers 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 the faith intellectually yet without a Christ centered foundation or a respectful tone undermines and contradicts our claims to possess the truth and to speak for Jesus.
While there are many important topics for Christian apologetics to address, the purpose of ReThink3:15 is to help pastors, parents, and individual Christians to “rethink” Peter’s exhortation and to take seriously the importance of carrying out Christian apologetics, evangelism, and outreach in a way that honors Christ the Lord as holy and is, above all else, gentle and respectful. 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 resume.
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.
We value live and in person apologetics, evangelism, and outreach focused efforts that take seriously 1 Peter 3:15 in its entirety and we value pastors, parents, and educators who lead the charge. As a denominationally diverse group of Christian authors, professors, pastors, and apologists, we also value unity in essentials, liberty in nonessentials, and charity in everything.