Listening In preview: Mark Mittelberg

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: an excerpt from Listening In. This week, a conversation with Christian apologist Mark Mittelberg.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Mittelberg first came to prominence in the 1990s as evangelism director at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs. He’s written many books and  training materials for churches since that time. This summer Warren Smith caught up with him in Colorado.

WARREN SMITH, HOST: Obviously, we’ve been taught discussing the apologetics side of things, which is, truth and logic and that sort of thing. But being a contagious Christian involves much more than that. 

MITTLEBERG: It absolutely does. And for me, it’s the desire to have an infectious faith or a contagious faith that touches other people, that leads them toward the Savior and ultimately to faith in Christ. That’s what motivates my apologetics, my, you know, studying these things, presenting 20 arguments and so on. I, I’m not motivated to be an academic person who can spout a lot of facts or win arguments. I’m motivated to win people to Jesus. And I view apologetics as a key part of that. In fact, our mutual friend Jay Warner Wallace wrote an article somewhere. Uh, he said, you know, evangelism today is spelled apologetics. And he did a whole piece on that. 

And I agree. I don’t think it always does, but I think apologetics is such a key component because when you’re dealing with people who have doubts and questions or misunderstandings of what Christianity teaches, a lot of what you do need to do is straighten out wrong beliefs and give answers and give reasons for our faith. So I think that’s vital, but it’s not the whole thing.

I know a lot of apologists that, you know, rarely really go on to share the gospel or lead people to Christ. And that comes to much more of a broad mission mindset and awareness that Jesus left us on this planet for the central purpose of making disciples, leading people to Christ, teaching him what he had taught in, you know, baptizing them into the family. 

And that involves, you know, praying for people who are far from God, taking relational risks to get up close and hang out with people who don’t believe what we believe. Inviting them into a conversation about spiritual matters, you know, and sharing your testimony, sharing the gospel message. And then it may or may not go in apologetics direction, but we need to be ready to go there.

(Photo/First Colony Church of Christ)

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