The greatest apologetics any Christian can proclaim is the way they live their lives, according to David Evans, pastor of Springfield Baptist Church in Springfield, Tenn.
“It’s not the argument; it’s not the debate,” Evans said. “… If we shrink back in [our life], we have no apologetic.”
This from a man who has spent much of the last few years organizing and conducting conferences as well as researching and writing about apologetics, or providing a defense for the Christian faith.
The graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) originally went to college to study pre-med. In a story at NOBTS’ website he described himself at the time as a “practicing Christian, but ideologically an atheist.” But as he studied science, he became convinced of the truth of a Creator. Thus began a lifelong pursuit of how the gospel provides answers to life’s questions.
Evans said people who oppose God can be crippled by tough questions. Through apologetics, he seeks to dive deep for the answers to those questions.
“If they’re unable to cross that mountain of questions, they stay crippled. They quit,” Evans said. “It’s either apathy, or just conceding.”
Apologetics should be a forefront discipline alongside evangelism, Evans said, adding that it’s in fact a method of evangelism.
“Before you get to a gospel presentation,” Evans said, “there are some big questions you have to tackle. If somebody doesn’t believe the Bible is true, or is skeptical and cynical of it, the last thing they want to hear is the scripture to lead them to Jesus.
“There has to be some groundwork.”
Evans said he considers apologetics to be not only a topic to study, but a part of daily life and evangelism in the Christian faith.
“Even in this day and age, we have to step in to be recognized and to show God’s glory in an amazing way because people need it right now, they desperately need it,” Evans said.
Before being called to pastor Springfield Baptist in 2019, Evans served as the evangelism team leader for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. While working for the state convention, he began organizing apologetics conferences at the Nashville Zoo and Nashville’s Adventure Science Center, a children’s museum. He said venturing into difficult territory – he described some of the scientists as atheists – was simply part of following Jesus.
“Jesus went to some very tough places for me,” Evans told NOBTS. “The least I can do is go to places where I think He wants to be known.”
Evans, who said he made sure to tell the scientists Jesus loves them, noted that in order to stir up conviction in hearts, seeds must be planted that prompt people to learn, to ask questions and to explore their beliefs.
“Education is a journey. Spiritual life is a journey,” Evans said. “You start the adventure in one spot and the more you go, the more experience you have. … It’s my job to make sure that I communicate in such a way that anybody can understand, but also in a way that it provokes more questions.”
This week, Evans has spoken virtually on apologetics at one conference and conducted in-person seminars at another. In pairing his teaching and engagement in apologetics with his role as a pastor, Evans said he is constantly aware of the need to train people in the faith, and to give people opportunities to figure out their faith for themselves.
“There has to be this time in every young adult’s life, to adopt your own faith,” Evans explained. “We need to take faith into the area where faith needs to be. We need to train people where they need to be trained.”
He added that the time is ripe, while the world is in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the church “to lean in, speak in, step in.”
“Lead in hope, lead in peace, lead in joy,” he said. “If the church sinks back, then there will be a national and global unrest. We are God’s ambassadors. If we step back, there is no Godly message to reassure the world and to help the world through a very difficult spot.”
To do so, he said, Christians must be the best citizens the world has ever seen, following mandated health requirements when they do not interfere with scripture.
“In this time and this season, there’s so many unknowns,” he said, “but the thing that is not unknown is that the hope found in the gospel is the answer we all need. We have to be the physical people in the face of disease to remind people that Jesus Christ still loves them.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tess Schoonhoven is a Baptist Press staff writer.)