By Jennifer Johnson
In May 2013, a representative of the Loftis Foundation contacted Lincoln (IL) Christian University with a perceived need and a solid solution. The result is Lincoln’s new “Room for Doubt” initiative.
“John Loftis lost his faith when he went to college,” says Dr. Richard Knopp, professor of philosophy & Christian apologetics at Lincoln. “He returned to church as an adult but says his faith at the time was shallow. The turning point, he says, was when he came across apologetics material in his 50s and it changed his life and his commitment to Christ. He wondered if his life might have been different had he come across these ideas as a young man, and he wants to give other young people the opportunity.”
Knopp says Loftis’s perception of the need is real—statistics show between 60 and 70 percent of students from Christian families leave the church after graduation from high school—and most churches are not adequately prepared to address the questions of these young people. So leaders at LCU worked with the Loftis team from May through July 2013 to create a proposal for an initial three-year program that would both address issues and equip church leaders. LCU began rolling out some components of it this spring.
“We are working directly with Mark Mittelberg, Garry Poole, and Lee Strobel,” Knopp says. “Mark has made a name for himself authoring and speaking on apologetics; Poole is a specialist in curriculum development and has written most of Strobel’s small group curriculum; and, of course, Strobel is the author of several books on apologetics including The Case for Christ and The Case for a Creator.”
These three leaders are working with the Room for Doubt team to produce a six-week message and curriculum series, a “Doubters Uncensored” live panel discussion with video for use in messages, small group training videos, and more.
“We invited seven influential churches to pilot the material in 2015, and East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis launched it on Easter Sunday,” Knopp says. He and Mittelberg also plan to do some presentations at this summer’s NACC and will make the material available widely in early 2016.
In addition, www.roomfordoubt.com offers users the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers, read articles from a variety of viewpoints, and find related resources. The team also plans to offer seminars and distance education opportunities to equip church leaders, parents, and even young people to understand apologetics and related issues.
“Loftis is also providing some scholarship funds for students interested in pursuing degree programs in apologetics,” Knopp says. “Lincoln has a long heritage of doing ‘worldview’ and apologetics work and we currently have a specialization in this area in both our MA and MDiv programs. We’re excited to see these opportunities open to even more students.”
Check out www.roomfordoubt.com for the latest resources, event announcements, Q&A, and more.