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by Sheryl Young
Tom Gilson had a brainstorm. He had run into too many apologists who felt like they were alone in their church or community. In fact, in a recent interview, our Chapter Director at Purdue Calumet, Gene Calderon called himself a “lonely apologist” before he found RC. So Gilson, who is RC’s Vice President for Strategic Initiatives & Alliances, decided to do something about it. He partnered with our Upper Midwest Regional Director Don Brooks.
Gilson's thrust for the idea came from past apologetics conferences where he had asked how many people felt alone in their use of apologetics at churches.
"Numerous people would raise their hand, and I felt there had been many missed opportunities," he says. "People aren't equipped with how to incorporate apologetics into the church setting or how to find other apologists to work with."
Gilson and Brooks decided to hold a test session, a small invitation-only gathering of apologists whom they knew, to see if these issues were worthy enough of organizing events all around the U.S. – especially where Ratio Christi hasn't yet made an impact with a college club or established church relations. The pilot session was held on April 18, 2015 near Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“The first Lonely Apologist conference is in the books and we are excited!” Brooks says. “One attendee who had a lifelong interest in apologetics said, ‘That was the best conversation on apologetics I can ever remember being a part of!’ What I love is that the attendee called it a ‘conversation’ and not a ‘seminar.’ There were six hours of real conversation and it was truly a unique privilege for all of us who attended.”
Q: What was the purpose of these conversations?
Brooks: Our purpose was threefold. First, we sought to encourage those who have a love for apologetics but feel that they are somewhat "alone" in their Christian community. We also wanted to connect these individuals with others in their area. Finally, we’re scouting for potential chapter directors so that we can put Ratio Christi on every college campus everywhere.
Tom’s vision is to see these events happening all over the country. We will be putting together a document to help other RC chapter and regional directors do the same thing – and better – in their areas. To our current leaders: Don't feel you can't do this, because I expect your effort will be better than our first try here – and we are excited for what was accomplished.
Gilson: I want to flush out those who do apologetics who are "activists" and don't want to be passive. We can do this by validating the role of the apologist, talking about the spiritual life of the apologist, how to become a better learner, and how to have effectiveness as an apologist at your church…
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