I saw this post on Pastor Matt’s blog (H/T Truthbomb Apologetics), in which he talked about how William Lane Craig, the foremost Christian evangelist today, was inspiring a generation of young Christians to study hard subjects and to have an influence.
Pastor Matt then describes his own efforts with the Alliance Defense Fund, where he serves as Director of Development.
My primary job is to serve the Christian legal ministry Alliance Defending Freedom. Other than winning approximately 80% of our cases, we have committed to training the next generation of Christian lawyers (yes, there is such a thing). Alliance Defending Freedom (or ADF) instituted The Blackstone Legal Fellowship to impact future generations. We pick the top Christian law students from across the country, train them and place them in a paid internship with attorneys already fighting everyday for life, marriage and religious liberty across the globe. The results have been tremendous. After all, think about the impact an Ivy League law student committed to following Christ would have if properly trained in Constitutional law and given real world experience in defending the 1st Amendment? Such students go on to become federal law clerks, U.S Attorneys and federal judges.
The Blackstone program inspired me to think about applying the same to rising Christian apologists. After all, if we lost significant ground in the culture war because we ceded academia to the left, what would happen if we identified the best and brightest committed Christians studying philosophy or science and helped them to rise to the top of their fields via a training program including internships and networking opportunities?
For example, let’s say a grad student at Houston Baptist University or the Talbot School of Theology has been accepted to study philosophy of science at Cambridge or physics at Cal Tech. Wouldn’t it make a difference if he or she were given a chance over their summer break to spend time learning about the latest in New Testament studies from N.T. Wright and intelligent design from Stephen Meyer followed by a paid internship with the Discovery Institute or RZIM? Then think of the possibilities of linking all of these men and women through an online network and regular get togethers where they could support one another through prayer and commenting on each others’ writings. The benefits could be not only better writing but friendships that help avoid unnecessary divisions as well as maintaining the momentum Dr. Craig and others have initiated.
I’m definitely a huge fan of the ADF and Blackstone Legal Fellowship, but I have my own plan to train my replacements.
For some time now, I have been getting to know young Christians who want to make a difference for Christ and his Kingdom, and I have been encouraging them. Sometimes, that encouragement means sending money, sometimes it means sending books, sometimes it means sending care and encouragement, sometimes it means picking college courses and sometimes it means helping with homework or technical issues. Sometimes it means listening as they get through a bad break-up or deal with doubts. Sometimes it means giving them advice on courting and marriage. It could mean anything – but the goal is to build them up to have an influence.
I am a single man and have been careful to study difficult subjects and move around as necessary to find good-paying work. That leaves me in a position where I am able to spend my free time caring for these younger Christians as they grow their skills, build their resumes and get their ministries set up. I expect them all to surpass me in their achievements and influence. So although I have been able to escape my upbringing and reach some measure of success, my hope for them is that they will reach even higher than I was able to. But that’s not going to happen unless they have a vision for their lives and are supplied in order to reach their goals.
So, do you have a plan to develop influential and effective Christians who will replace you?