I think our church was shocked by the title that I had printed on my new church business card…Read More
I sat down to lunch with the atheist engineer and felt—awkward!
His wife had suggested that we meet together since he was skeptical about the whole God thing and about the church his wife was starting to attend.
But we had nothing in common. He was a scientist and I was, in his view, a religious nut. Worse, I was a professional religious nut, since I was the pastor of the church. In his mind, I was paid to be irrational.
And he was, above all else, a rationalist—and proud of it.
We swapped superficial pleasantries as we ordered from the menu, but both of us felt uncomfortable. So with an industrial strength level of self-confidence, he barreled ahead with what I felt to be a patronizing comment.
“Well, my wife suggested that we have lunch and talk over my questions about the rationality of religion. You probably haven’t heard these comments before, so I hope you won’t be offended.”
“Oh pleeease,” I moaned inwardly, “he thinks he has me pegged. He has no clue that I studied Ph.D.-level philosophy at a secular university, or that I’ve talked with many, many skeptics over the years. Plus, I’m a pastor, so I should be better at this whole patience thing by now, so get a grip and listen…”
I knew that arguments don’t lead to changed hearts. Plus, I knew something he didn’t: that we both actually believed in and cared about many of the same things. I’ve learned to find common ground with skeptics and atheists, and prompt them to think deeply about the things they value.
But my goals were to aid his wife and not alienate him, so I simply said, “Well, give me your best shot.”
So he talked. And talked. About science, about the big bang, and about Bertrand Russell and his fixation with that fig tree.
But this wasn’t my first rodeo, so I knew that arguments don’t lead to changed hearts. Plus, I knew something he didn’t: that we both actually believed in and cared about many of the same things. Over the years I’ve simply learned to find common ground with skeptics and atheists, and prompt them to think deeply about the things they value.
So I began with science. “I’m glad you love science and always seek to follow the scientific method. I love science too. But I’ve noticed that there are some things the scientific method just can’t prove.”
“Well, there are many, but this is a big one: you can’t prove the scientific method by the scientific method.”
So I asked, “Who are your all-time favorite scientists?”
“Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Einstein,” he responded.
“Me too. Incredible geniuses, every one. And, by the way, all of them believed in God. Especially Newton, who wrote more pages on biblical studies than he did on science.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“It’s true,” I said, “Also, did you know that the scientific method developed only in western civilization because it was based on Christian principles?”
“That’s not true.”
“Well, I have graduate degrees in philosophy and theology, and there are some fabulous books by science historians that verify this—one just published recently from Oxford. Would you be interested in reading it with me, and discussing chapters over lunch?”
“I would love that!” He exclaimed, “And so will my wife!” We both laughed.
In the years that followed, he and I read dozens of books together. And he became a close friend—and, in time, a fellow believer.
Since then I’ve had numerous encounters with other skeptics and have always found that we share much in common. We love music, whether classic rock or jazz; we enjoy movies and books, from sci-fi to zombies; and we like sports or museums. Plus, we strongly oppose sex trafficking here and around the world, we despise people who are cruel to animals, and we think Hitler was evil and deserved to be defeated.
But the biggest surprise of all was when I looked deeper into these diverse likes and dislikes, and I found that each of them, in their own unique but definite way, pointed to God. That is, each made more sense in a theistic worldview than in an atheistic one.
I’ve learned that God is indeed real, but he hides in our deepest likes and loathings, ready to reveal himself to us in the very parts of life that we care most about.
Have you claimed your copy of of "31 Surprising Reasons to Believe in God: How Superheroes, Art, Environmentalism and Science Point Toward Faith"?
Article originally written for Fox News.
My NEW book, 31 Surprising Reasons to Believe in God is almost here!
I believe it will strengthen the faith of the faithful, and it may gently and enjoyably nudge those who don’t yet believe toward faith. But here's the thing, I need YOUR help to get the spread the word that it's coming.
We’re looking for 100 people who are excited about this message and passionate about Jesus. Will you help us? (It's also great to get a FREE copy right??)
What is a Launch Team?
A launch team is a group of readers that will be assembled as a team online (via email and a private Facebook group), and a small handful of you in person. You are the word spreaders and cheerleaders for the book and will be given specific tasks that let you be the all important on-the-ground marketers, or street team, to help spread the word.
What is Your Role?
- Sharing about the book on your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat) or with your team, small group, book club, or organization
- Sharing about the book on your blog and with your email list (but having them isn’t a requirement)
- Posting a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc
- Give feedback in our online discussions
- Dress up as a super hero and read the book on every street corner
Okay maybe #5 is a STRETCH, but you get it. Our team will give you everything you need to help spread the word. Plus it's a BLAST!
What Do YOU Get Out of This?
So here’s what you will receive as a member of the book launch team:
- An advance copy of the book.
- Exclusive sneak peeks and early access to the pre-order bonuses.
- Access to a private Facebook group where all awesome launch team members will gather for updates, news and make new friends. I may even hop on for a few quick Q&As on Facebook live just in the group.
- A behind-the-scenes look at marketing a book.
- Did I mention the FREE book??
Are you ready to be on the book launch team?
There are a limited number of spots, so do not wait!!
The application process will be open until 11:59 pm Pacific on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Click here to apply now.
Your support is greatly appreciated. Let's start sharing the truth to shine some light in a dark world. With your help, we can shine even brighter!
Download My New eBook!
Do you know people who are skeptics? Would you love to see them become deeply convinced followers of Jesus?
Sound impossible? I thought so too, until I noticed God using, time and again, a simple pattern that ultimately led to a softening of their hearts toward faith. As a result, I’ve had the privilege of seeing many, many skeptics become believers, and it can happen to your friends and family members too.
This little book, Help—My Friend is a Skeptic!, explains how you can help your unbelieving friends on their journey toward faith. Plus, if church leaders proactively follow these same principles, they can start a movement—maybe even a snowball—of people touched by their church who become former atheists. And their Christian friends will find their own faith strengthened in the process too. It’s truly a win-win situation.
Stop merely complaining, “Help—My Friend is a Skeptic!” and instead start purposefully drawing your skeptical friends toward the faith that will change their eternity.
My newest book, 31 Surprising Reasons to Believe in God, hits the stores in July! Can zombies, artists, environmentalists, sports, superheroes, and even animal rights activists be reasons that point to God?...
…This book says yes—along with 25 more astounding reasons! It’s the fruit of forty years of study, writing, and discussions with hundreds of believers and nonbelievers. My wife calls this my magnum opus, but I just see it as “the best thing I have ever done.”
31 Surprising Reasons to Believe in God will strengthen the faith of the faithful, and it may gently and enjoyably nudge those who don’t yet believe toward faith. It hits the stores in June, 2017.
Writer and C. S. Lewis scholar Terry Glaspey (who won a Christianity Today Book of the Year category award in 2016) wrote,
"This is a very special book…a wonderfully creative and fascinating read that reveals hints of the divine all around us—in what we believe, what we love, what we have, and what we know. Rick's carefully reasoned yet whimsical approach to apologetics is more about engaging in better conversations than it is about arguments. And for skeptics who read this book, they may find they are closer to faith than they had ever imagined." Terry Glaspey, author of the award-winning 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know and Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S.Lewis.
Read more about my new book—and check out the endorsements from significant thinkers, writers, philosophers, psychologists, professors, authors, and pastors—on my website: https://www.rickstedman.com/books-1/ . Some friends will recognize this as similar to a self-published study I wrote for the small groups in our church several years ago—but this is completely rewritten and almost half of the material is totally new.
I will be sharing more endorsements and news about 31 Surprising Reasons to Believe in God in the weeks to come, as well as links to reviews and interviews. I hope—and believe—you’ll love it. #31SurprisingReasons.
PS: my 3rd big announcement will be posted next week.
I’m very happy to announce that God has opened a new chapter in my life and service to His church. I have accepted the call to be the Interim Pastor at Christ’s Church of The Valley in Bakersfield, CA. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked…
CCV—a church filled with terrific people—has had a few tough years and, for various reasons, its senior pastors haven’t lasted very long. As a result, its leaders determined they needed help—someone with lots of experience and a loving touch who would spend the months necessary to guide the church toward health. And God led them to me.
Amy and I think this is a great fit for me, and we feel that it may be the first of several such interim ministries in which I will serve in the years to come. We plan to keep our home base in Auburn, and go out from there to these new adventures, as the Lord opens the doors.
Plus, God has a sense of humor about this. When I first began praying about this, I said to God, “I’m willing to serve as an interim pastor if that is your will, and if the church happens to be in Monterey or Carmel, that would be okay with me.” So God, in his infinite wisdom and wit, seemed to reply, “That is my will for you, and I will send you first to an even better place—Bakersfield. You don’t know yet why it is better, but I will reveal that to you in the months ahead. Just go and love them one at a time. Treat them like Jesus would if he were their Interim Senior Pastor.”
So we are off on our next adventure. Please pray for us and for the church, and please let us know if you will be passing through our area. You can check out the church at http://ccvbak.com (and visit a Sunday service), and keep up with what I’m doing at https://www.rickstedman.com or by following me at https://www.facebook.com/Rick-Stedman-1872959066304203/. You can also email me at email@example.com.
With deep thankfulness for the blessings of the past and with great hopefulness for what God is about to do in our future,
We still love you and love being your friends,
Rick and Amy Stedman
PS: Stay tuned: our next big announcement (#2 of 3) I will post on Friday!
Almost 25 years ago Amy and I moved to Rocklin, California, to start a church from scratch...Read More
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Do you desire to improve your prayer life? I certainly do. In fact, I’ve been on a quest to improve my prayer life for years. I’ve read books, attended seminars, filled journals, listened to countless sermons, and preached over 100 sermons on prayer myself.Read More