A megachurch pastor in Plymouth, Mich., has opened the pulpit to questions from worship attendees.
Pastor Brad Powell of NorthRidge Church kicked off the "You Asked For It" sermon series last weekend, hoping to engage the thousands who come for worship.
The series, he says, is about taking God's truth and applying it to the countless questions believers and also non-believers have about God and the Christian faith.
At a time when atheists are speaking up, and rising secularism and growing religious diversity are stirring confusion among Christians themselves, some churches have taken the initiative to engage their congregations rather than leave them searching for answers elsewhere.
"You Asked For It" is an annual series Powell conducts in the summer to satisfy some curiosity and address serious doubts.
Questions that have poured in over the last month via e-mail and text messaging have ranged from addressing aliens and angels to Powell's role and the issue of big church.
"Brad, why do you seem so distant?" one question posed.
Answering from the stage during a weekend service, Powell explained that he tries to make himself available to people by moving from area to area in the large church. However, he emphasized, NorthRidge Church is not about Brad Powell or one person.
"It's about Jesus and anyone who loves Jesus can minister to you," he said. "It's not about me, it's about us."
Another asked: "How big is too big for a church?"
Powell, whose church sees an average attendance of over 14,000 every weekend, says there is no such thing as too big or too small.
The key, he emphasized, is making sure that a church is about what Jesus wants it to be about – that is, helping people discover Jesus Christ and experience his fullness in their lives and giving people the opportunity to connect in community.
On to a more poignant question, Powell based his most recent message around "How do we know for sure that God is real?"
A belief in the existence of God may be foundational to a Christian, but many people who practice Christianity have doubts about whether He exists, the senior pastor acknowledged.
Moreover, Christians are afraid to talk to intellectuals because they think there aren't any intellectual reasons for their faith and that it is unreasonable to believe in God, Powell pointed out.
Addressing those with doubts and fears, Powell said, "We need to know this reality: belief in God is reasonable."
"It's rational to believe in God."
What makes it reasonable is the issue of cause (everything in the universe is dependent on cause), design, reliability and morality.
"It's unreasonable to believe that a world and a universe that is dependent upon cause happened without cause," Powell contended, referring to the big bang theory. "That's a blind leap of faith."
Considering God exists outside this universe – and thus doesn't need a cause – Powell said it's reasonable to believe that God caused this universe.
Over the next few weeks, Powell will address questions on the Bible, "Our Church," and eternity, respectively.