Author and apologist Lee Strobel has announced he is launching a center for evangelism and apologetics in collaboration with Colorado Christian University in efforts to fuel spiritual renewal in America, revitalize churches, and equip the next generation to understand and defend their faith.
“We live in an increasingly skeptical and even hostile culture toward the Christian message, and apologetics, which is literally giving evidence for the faith, is increasingly important as a result,” Strobel told The Christian Post. “Apologetics gets people past their spiritual ‘sticking points.’ A lot of people in culture have objections, questions, and doubts about God, and when we can give them a reason for these things, it can make great progress for God.”
The award-winning former legal editor of The Chicago Tribune explained that the center, appropriately titled the Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics, will “wed evangelism and apologetics” — something he said has historically been “missing” in most Christian training.
“My good friend [author] J. Warner Wallace says, ‘Evangelism in the 21st century is spelled apologetics,'” Strobel said. “Christians are going to have a tough time in the 21st century sharing their faith if they don’t understand firmly why they believe what they believe and have the ability to defend it. There’s too much skepticism out there. There’s a lot of websites that promote wild claims and objections to Christianity, many of which are easily answered, but we have to know what the answers are.”
“I don’t think any Christians can be truly effective with reaching people with the Gospel if they’re not conversant in how to defend the basics of the faith," he added.
The Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics will offer accredited courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Strobel told CP that all courses are designed to help churches, ministries, and individual Christians share and defend their faith naturally and effectively.
“We’re not after training a bunch of people to be ivory tower intellectuals; we want them to be involved in the marketplace of ideas and to be involved in the fray of culture, whether it’s in social media, politics, or through the church,” he explained. “We want to train people so that they’re using apologetics in everyday life.”
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In efforts to “revitalize churches,” the Center will also train and certify evangelism directors for local churches, who will serve full-time, part-time or on a volunteer basis in partnership with the senior pastor in order to mobilize the church to reach their community for Christ.
Strobel, who has served as a teaching pastor at three of the largest and most evangelistic churches in the country, lamented that “a lot of churches have grown a little dim in their passion for reaching spiritually lost people.”
“We have a six-page process that we’re going to take churches through to increase their evangelistic effectiveness and reach people in their community with the Gospel,” he said, emphasizing the need for spiritual revival across the United States.
“We live in a culture that’s sliding at a rapid pace away from Christian values and principles, and we need a revival, a people coming to faith so that their values and character and morality is brought under the teachings of God,” he said. “That changes the tenor and current of the nation. We have to do it through churches, and I believe we will see churches come alive through evangelism and apologetics. We can move toward having a national renewal of faith.”
A former atheist, Strobel is today one of the evangelical world's leading defenders of the faith. His journey from atheism to faith is documented in his best-selling book The Case for Christ, which was turned into a film in 2017.
Strobel’s latest book, The Miracles Answer Book (Zondervan, August 2019), is the result of a two-year investigation of whether God is still performing miracles today. He told CP that his own conversion occurred after he was convinced by the miracle of the resurrection that Jesus is the Son of God. Miracles, he said, were always a “sticking point” for him.
“After years of investigating the miracle of the resurrection, I became convinced it was true and that’s what led me to Christ,” he said. “It was the historical evidence of a miracle that convinced me God is real. But I always wondered, does that mean He’s still doing miracles? So I spent two years investigating miracles, and this is the result, looking at, how do we define a miracle and know a miracle actually occurs and what miracles do we have today.”
The Miracle Answer Book, Strobel said, will aid with evangelism as he’s noticed a “huge curiosity” among people regarding the topic of miracles.
“There are a lot of people who claim miraculous things can happen, but do we have scientific evidence or strong empirical data to back them up? I believe we do, in many cases,” he said. “Yes, there are cases where things were exaggerated and other cases of fraud, but that doesn’t explain away all the miracle claims. I document miracles that have taken place where we have strong evidence for them.”
“Miracles point people to God,” he added. “They let us know that God is still active in our world and intervening supernaturally in people's lives and making a difference.”
Through his teachings, books, and now the Center, Strobel said his purpose is to equip the next generation to give a reason for their faith. He cited statistics revealing that overall, Gen Z doesn’t believe in evangelism or sharing their beliefs with others.
“It’s concerning,” he said. “We want to help remedy that through this Center. I see a troubling trend away from biblical values, and we need to show them that the greatest service they can provide is sharing the good news of hope and redemption through Christ.”
“There’s a genuine curiosity among young people toward faith in general, and that’s an open door for the Christian message,” he continued. “I am encouraged by the young people I see who are open-minded and authentically searching for something that’s true. We believe the Center will equip people to defend the faith in an increasingly skeptical nation.”
The Strobel Center’s courses are expected to begin in Fall 2020. For more information on the new Lee Strobel Center at Colorado Christian University, visit www.ccu.edu/strobelcenter.