Tuesday, January 1, 2013
The student apologetics alliance, Ratio Christi, continues to experience great development, history, and influence in its endeavor to bring thoughtful Christian witness to non-religious university contexts. I recently interviewed President Rick Schenker about some of the great work of his organization. The EPS continues to be a home for self-identified apologetics scholars, leaders and practitioners. For that reason and more, ATTENTION all graduate students in apologetics: Ratio Christi Wants You!
I am passionate about evangelism, and I believe apologetics is all about evangelism. I believe an apologist fits the Ephesians 4:11 role of an evangelist by equipping believers to win their own circle of influence. Therefore, by placing a resident apologist at each university, Ratio Christi is training Christian students not only that their faith is solidly grounded in truth (reality), but that every conversation is an opportunity to lead others to Christ. We are turning them into evangelists, and training them to teach what they have learned to other faithful men and women who will to teach others. I know it sounds amazing, but my hope is to help create one of the greatest evangelistic movements of this century by training 2.5 million apologetics oriented evangelists in the next 10 years. I think we have the plan to get it done.
How does Ratio Christi value graduate training in apologetics?
Ratio Christi needs well trained apologists. We love to recruit our chapter leaders from schools that offer graduate training in apologetics. We are hoping that by providing trained apologists with more opportunities to work in the field of apologetics that the schools that do the training will be able to drastically increase their enrollments.
Ratio Christi is a mobilizing and networking organization. Why is that important?
The thing that was missing in the overall apologetics movement was an organization that is entirely focused on developing grassroots (local) opportunities for apologists. We are filling that niche by offering to have them serve (full-time or as a volunteer) as a Ratio Christi resident apologist at a university. This has mostly been in the U.S., but now we are creating opportunities internationally. We will be increasing these opportunities as soon as we launch Ratio Christi College Prep to reach middle school and high school students. Think about what this does. It also creates more opportunities for apologetics ministries to provide speakers and resources at every one of our venues. Our goal is to grow the entire apologetics enterprise.
How many leaders and groups are currently affiliated with Ratio Christi, and how are you wanting to see Ratio Christi grow?
We have grown from having only 10 chapters in early 2011 to having over 100 chapters right now, and our budget has tripled. Our initial goals are to open 500 chapters at universities in the next five years, and 1,000 chapters in the next ten years. Add to this the plan we are developing for Ratio Christi College Prep, and all of a sudden this becomes a movement.
What are the top needs and opportunities that you see for apologetics leadership in the church and on campuses?
I think the biggest need is probably also the biggest opportunity. We need more apologists not only to serve in Ratio Christi opportunities, but to also provide more speakers and resources for the needs that will be created. I believe God has been laying the foundation for an apologetics oriented evangelistic movement for well over 60 years (maybe more). If our plan works only half as well as I am hoping, we will still have over a million Christians trained as apologetics oriented evangelists that understand their obligation to teach others what they have learned. If we keep the focus on students, they will eventually be reaching into churches and schools all around the world.
To aid toward having "Christians trained as apologetics oriented evangelists," do you foresee Ratio Christi providing additional training regarding leadership development? If so, how?
Part of the Ratio Christi plan is to not compete against other apologetics organization that provide training and resources. We work with potential chapter directors and students all the time and recommend training and resources from these other organizations. However, when we finally launch Ratio Christi College Prep, our plan is to train and certify local mentors (or trainers) to reach middle school and high school age students. Yet even in this case we plan to use the materials and curriculum of other organizations to train the trainers.
Are there other training needs that you foresee would be important for undergraduate and graduate training to attend to as they help to prepare the next generation of Christian apologists?
I think most of the schools that have apologetics graduate degrees do a great job. It would be nice to see apologetics and its relationship to evangelism emphasized more in Christian undergraduate programs, and more of their graduates entering graduate degree programs in apologetics. I personally think that the church is heading into what I call the “age of the apologists.” To win our postmodern culture to Christ and to keep Christians from falling away from the faith, churches are going to have to equip their congregations with more than how to have financial peace, or how to laugh their way to a better marriage. That means the church will eventually have to start engaging apologists—something very few churches are doing right now.
I know you value the work of the local church and pastors. Ratio Christi, of course, is a "parachurch" organization aimed at Christian witness on campuses. But I wonder if there are ways that pastors might collaborate with your overall endeavor. If so, how?
There are a few ways that churches can collaborate with Ratio Christi. We encourage local churches to adopt a local chapter and find ways to support their efforts. For chapters where we have full-time missionaries, churches could place those missionaries on their missions budget, and engage the services of these apologists to help train their parents, youth, and leaders in the use of apologetics. We actually have a plan for this called our "Community Apologists program.” In addition, one model we are looking at for Ratio Christi College Prep would be to develop a direct relationship with local churches to train local trainers to teach youth in various venues in the community. Another way would be to welcome the Ratio Christi students that have certified “Legatus Christ—meaning Ambassadors of Christ” and look for opportunities for them to teach others in the local church.
To learn more about the work of Ratio Christi, please visit RatioChristi.org.