Equipping the Church to Engage the Culture
FreeThinking Ministries (FTM) has enjoyed another fantastic year of ministry! This online organization is equipping people around the world to know exactly what they should believe (theology) and exactly why they should believe it (apologetics). This mission is important because when one fully grasps both the what and the why, radical life change occurs and evangelism just happens! Jeremiah 20:9 comes to mind:
But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
… And the World!
We officially launched the website two years ago and it is equipping people worldwide. Since our launch in 2016, nearly 100,000 “unique users” (that is a fancy term for “individuals”) have benefited from the site hailing from as many as 193 countries around the world. In fact, just last month alone we had almost 7,000 new users come to the website to learn about God.
It is interesting that the most “clicked on” article is an essay I wrote regarding why a good and perfectly loving God allows evil and suffering. This essay was read by a minimum of nearly 11,000 unique users and this is not including those who read the Spanish translation of the article. This particular essay incorporates a specific view of God’s sovereignty and human free will to answer this apologetics-based question (See Lex Luthor’s Lousy Logic).
I will discuss this more below, but I have often said that this is the BIG question — the primary question — in which the majority of people (from Christians to atheists) are asking. I believe we have offered the correct and satisfying answer!
Growing the Team
This past year Dr. David Oldham joined the team part-time to write occasional articles for the website (like this one entitled “Prayer Changes Things”), assist in fundraising, and to do research. He is connecting FTM to other pastors who are hoping to equip their members with apologetics.
Scott Olson recently joined the FreeThinking team as the “Director of Media Content.” In addition, he is going to be hosting weekly podcasts with me on iTunes and on the website. We have already recorded the first seven episodes. We plan on recording regularly and releasing one podcast per week along with at least two articles per week. Stay tuned and check out the first episode here!
The Freethinking Family is strong and growing! Joining me as regular contributors are Timothy Fox, Jonathan Thompson, Adam Coleman, Jacobus Erasmus, and Shannon Byrd. We also have a small army of guest contributors who help make this website a powerful ministry!
One of my favorite things to do is equipping local pastors and ministry leaders. I meet regularly with a group of people to discuss apologetics and theology. This started out with just youth pastors but has grown to include lead pastors, associate pastors, ministry directors, Sunday School teachers, and others who just want to know the truth about ultimate reality and think correctly about God. We truly sharpen each other like iron (Proverbs 27:17)!
Occasionally we go LIVE on Facebook when I teach a lesson to this group of pastors and also publish these videos on the FTM website for many more to benefit (click here). It is good to know we have so many local Christian leaders who are committed to growing in their knowledge and understanding of God — and then spreading this knowledge to the masses.
I also enjoy preaching at many churches on Sunday mornings, teaching youth groups on Wednesday nights, and sharing at other local groups such as FCA gatherings as time allows.
FTM & the Local Battle Ground
Early in this school year I had the opportunity to speak to a large gathering of middle school students at a local church. Surprisingly, there were several “self-identifying atheists” who attended. These young atheists came ready to argue and hoping to influence their peers. I could not believe the questions and objections middle school students were offering!
They were well prepared and trained to know how to counteract Christian discussions. These young student atheists were “schooled” by YouTube and social media. I am used to going deep with college students and professors at UNK, but these middle school students were asking the same questions and making the same objections against Christianity as those I interact with on the college campus! These kids are exposed to video after video on YouTube of atheists attacking the coherence of theism. One 8th grade boy started bringing up big bang cosmology, the laws of thermodynamics, string theory, Steven Hawking’s “no boundary proposal” and other arguments raised by the science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson in an attempt to show why God does not exist!
I told him that since most middle school students would not grasp these concepts that he should stick around after youth group to discuss these topics. To my surprise several middle schoolers stayed to listen to our conversation! I was able to show this young man (and all of his friends) that the scientific data does not “prove atheism” as he asserted; rather, science strongly points to the existence of God! I then sent him home with some homework and offered him the following blog article to read on my website: Neil deGrasse Tyson: Stick to Your Day Job.
In addition to writing weekly blog articles, weekly lectures, and regular teaching and preaching, I am also currently pursuing my PhD in systematic theology. The working title of my dissertation is, “Reconciling Divine Sovereignty with Libertarian Free Will: A Metaphysical and Theological Approach.”
Answering this question is vital! Based in my experience as a youth pastor, as noted above, I believe this is one of the primary reasons that many people in the church have weak faith and why so many others eventually become atheists. In my doctoral work I hope to demonstrate why the theological view of God’s sovereignty I offer not only makes sense of all the Biblical data, but it also enjoys powerful significance in the field of apologetics. I have recently published an essay on the FTM website regarding this exact topic (See The Apologetic Significance of Molinism).
Questions from FTM to YOU!
We want to hear from YOU! We would love to hear from those who use our website and support this ministry.
1- How is FTM equipping you to engage the culture?
2- Do you feel more confidence in dealing with post-modern and atheistic challenges because of FTM?
3- Is FTM accessible to thoughtful people within your congregation?
4- Is there any particular topic or question that we have not addressed that you would like to see engaged by those of us at FTM?
5- Even if you are not swimming in these (sometimes deep) waters of apologetics, are you thankful that FTM acts as “life guards” in these deeper waters?
We look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support (click here to donate to the FTM cause). God is using FTM in a powerful way and He is using YOU as the “fuel” to keep this ministry continually reaching people from right here in the middle of Nebraska to people all around the globe! I humbly ask you to continue your financial support, your praying for all of us involved with this mission, and to continually share the resources found on freethinkingministries.com with your friends, your family, your church family, and all those who have big questions.
Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),
PS: My colleague from New York City, Timothy Fox, wrote a short blog surveying the Top 10 most read articles from 2017. It was encouraging to see a good balance of apologetics and theology. It was also encouraging to see several of my friends make the list with “guest articles.” Take a look at The Top 10 Articles from 2017!