#32-Apologetics ft. Andy Steiger

 In

Communicating Hope

 

How can we as leaders, who are serving the Lord and serving our churches, do a better job of communicating the reason for the HOPE that is in us? Andy Steiger is the founder and president of Apologetics Canada, an organization dedicated to helping churches better engage with today’s culture.

 

 

“What does it mean to be human? It is a foundational question that has been eroded away within our society that we need to understand and be able to, to explain, particularly as Christians of all people, that should be able to answer this question, we should be able to. ” – Andy Steiger

 

Topics Covered Include

  • Common doubt issues
  • Why do young adults stay in the church
  • Apologetics Canada
  • Cultural context
  • Community in the church

 

Show Notes

 

 

BCMB Pastor to Pastor
BCMB Pastor to Pastor
#32-Apologetics ft. Andy Steiger
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Transcription

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Andy Steiger:
What does it mean to be human? It is a foundational question that has been eroded away within our society that we need to understand and be able to, to explain, particularly as Christians of all people that should be able to answer this question, we should be able to. But the thing that I find so fascinating is most listeners will tell you that they like the podcast because we deal with those things, but we deal with them with gentleness and respect.

Andy Steiger:
And I mean this overwhelmingly, that's what we hear back from people that, that, that is a breath of fresh air in a society that is constantly at war with one another.

Welcome to the BCMB podcast, Pastor to Pastor. This is a podcast by the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. We want to help equip and encourage pastors, churches and anyone else who wants to listen in and be more effective in their ministry. This is Episode 32 Apologetics with Andy Steiger.

Rob Thiessen:
All right, hey, everyone, it's Rob Thiessen, this is the BCMB Pastor to Pastor podcast, and as always, everyone is welcome. Thank you for listeners just tuning in today. And I'm excited to have a conversation today with my guest, author, church minister, pastor, was one of our pastors, Andy Steiger and, Andy was serving. I'm going to let him his tell, tell his story a little bit. Andy,super excited to have you with us today. Just tell us a little bit about where you're at. I know you're at Northview for a good number of years, but give our listeners a little, little bio on your, your sort of ministry career and where you're at today.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, thanks. Rob it's great to be with you. As was mentioned, my name is Andy Steiger. I'm originally from Portland, Oregon. I'm one of those American imports. I, I'm actually one of, Rob, I'm afraid to say. But I'm one of those Americans, you know, the type I thought Canada was a part of the US no one talked about.

Andy Steiger:
And I heard that, I realized I was really that bad, that I realized it was this country. They had their own currency. Found out that the currency was, was worth less than ours, not worthless, but just worth less. And that I could go to college in Canada for a good, a good deal. And that's, that's actually what brought me up to Canada.

Rob Thiessen:
You know, Andy, we can handle all the, all the, all the slagging because who's laughing now? Like Portland proud ain't so proud anymore, is it?

Andy Steiger:
I tell you. I tell you. I know my, I'm quite happy to be living in British Columbia and my,my family give me reports about all that's going on. Being, I've never felt so good about being in Canada, that's for sure.

Rob Thiessen:
I have two kids that lived in Portland and they just they were just down. They live in Washington State now. And they, my daughter took her phone out and just filmed as they were driving through downtown. And it is plywood city. I mean, it's boarded up and it's pretty discouraging. Yeah. Anyway, so where where did the journey take you then.

Andy Steiger:
So it brought me up, brought me up to Northwest Baptist Theological College at that time. It's now part of ACTS seminary and, and whatnot. So it's on Trinity Western's campus. Did my BA there met a beautiful Canadian lady, married her as quickly as I could. We have two kids, William who's eleven. Treston who's thirteen. I love my boys dearly. I've now been in ministry for twenty years, which is exciting and depressing all at the same time. I can't believe how fast the time goes. And ten years ago I started a ministry with my wife called Apologetics Canada. That's a story in and of itself. I was completing my master's degree down at Biola University in Los Angeles and felt called to go off in the mission field.

Andy Steiger:
I just didn't realize that mission field was going to be back to Canada and to continue pastoring, but also doing apologetics as we, worked with churches to help people be encouraged in their faith. So if apologetics is new to you listeners, it comes from the Greek word apologia. Paul, Peter use this word. In fact, they still use it in Greece today. It means to give an answer or reason. And specifically, Peter says to give it, in first Peter, three, fifteen to give it a reason for the hope that you have in Jesus Christ and to do so with gentleness and respect. So that's what we do. We help people to, to have hope, but to have good reason for that hope. Firmly founded in Jesus. So that I guess, that gives you kind of just a little bit of a quick snapshot of my story.

Rob Thiessen:
Pastorally.Talk to us a little bit about your connection. You served a lot of years at Northview.

Andy Steiger:
I did. I served around a little over seven years at Northview Community Church as the young adults pastor. That's kind of a long story in itself.

Andy Steiger:
But I, so I started a Apologetics Canada. I did that full time for three years. I started hosting these conferences called The Apologetics Canada Conference, Northview asked if they could host the, the, the third one, and we were happy to do that with them as we needed a bigger venue. Started working with them and I went to reach out to their young adults pastor, saw they didn't have one. And for a church their, their size, I chastised them about that. I said, come on, guys, you need a young adult pastor. And that led to a conversation about me taking on that role and, and doing something kind of unusual you don't see happen very often in church where I wore two hats, I was the young pastor. I oversaw that ministry. But I continue to oversee Apologetics Canada, our staff were integrated with Northview. Northview did our bookkeeping and everything for free and provided us office space as an organization. And we continued to do ministry across Canada and it worked wonderfully well and in fact it worked too well.

Andy Steiger:
The ministry of Apologetics Canada grew and so did Northview. The young adult ministry grew. In fact, they grew so much that I just couldn't continue to do both.

Rob Thiessen:
And that's awesome. And so you, you've transitioned, obviously, and you're back full time now with Apologetics Canada, and someone else has taken over there for you at Northview. Andy another question I always ask the guests is to tell us a little bit about the community that formed you and formed your faith. But that was a part of your journey. And for most people, there's more than one community that they think of.

Rob Thiessen:
But you know, what would be some of the standout sort of people or peoples that were in your life that helped shape who you are?

Andy Steiger:
That's such an interesting question to me, because as I look back on my life, you that's one of those questions that takes, I think, some time to realize, you know, the communities that are shaping you because at the moment you don't realize how you're being shaped. And for me, I didn't, I didn't realize how much my life has been shaped by brokenness. I grew up in a, I grew up in a broken family. My, my dad left my mom when I was five. I grew up very poor, in my eyesight. But I did see my mom come to faith in Jesus. I saw her going to church, growing in her faith. And so some years later that I began to realize what an impact all that had had on me. And it goes much deeper as well. My mom got remarried and when my mom got remarried, my biological father asked my, my mom and my stepdad if they would, if he would adopt me. So Steiger's not my birth name. And then that way my dad didn't have to pay child support and all that kind of stuff. But I just bring that up because I had no idea at the time. I didn't think much of it. But when you get older and you look back at these moments, you start to realize what, what an impact that actually had on you. And, and so I didn't realize actually until is was going to get married, that I was ashamed of my last name, that, that I really had all this baggage that I came that I, that I was carrying. And so when I now look at the community that shaped me, I began I now realize that, first of all, my childhood friends, my Christian childhood friends, I had both non Christian, and Christian, especially given the context that I was raised in, the non Christian friends had a negative impact on me. My Christian friends had a very positive and.

Andy Steiger:
continue to have a very positive impact in my life, I would say. I would say that they're the number one shaper of my life, kind of growing up, steering more, steering me towards Jesus.

Andy Steiger:
But interestingly enough, I'd say that my, my wife's family.

Andy Steiger:
Particularly, her father had a, he had a big impact on me, is the first time I'd ever seen a healthy family, I'd ever seen a healthy marriage. I yeah, I could go on because, because, you know, some of us that grow up, a lot of us that grow up without a father, we don't know what it looks like to be a good father or to be a good husband. You just never seen it modeled. So I would say that those then have been the communities that have and continue to shape me.

Rob Thiessen:
Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Well, that's cool. Good, good story, Andy. And, you know, there have been other significant leaders among us, I think, of Carlin Weinhauer who didn't often talk about that in his testimony, but his dad also left his, his mom and him when he was young. And that had a big impact on his life. But, but later on in life, just like you're experiencing, you know, as you reflect later on, it's like the grace of God comes through other ways into your life. And, and like what you're saying, as a young adult, you, you really are like drinking hard of the, of the truth and saying, OK, what kind of a person might be, am I going to be, what other kids may maybe absorb when they were little? I'm going to have to, you know, catch up on here as a, as a young man. Right. And God meets you there.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, absolutely. And, and that was one thing that actually Nancy's dad said to me, because I felt I was surprised to find out that his dad had died when he was quite young and. And just to be encouraged in, in that my relationship with the Lord, I never thought about it like this, but my relationship with God could teach me how to be a good husband and to be a good father, you know? And I could see how it had taught other people. And again, that had a profound impact on me.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's so, so true. So true.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. I grew up with an amazing father, but he didn't have a father as a role model. And so, so my father lost his father during the war in Russia and he was sent off to Siberia and never saw him again from a young man.

Rob Thiessen:
But my dad, like looked to the scripture and other godly men and, and it turned out OK. He was a great father. So it is amazing how God steps in truly as the Old Testament promises. You know, he's a father to the fatherless and. Yeah, yeah, that's, that's great. Andy I know you've written a book recently, Reclaimed and How Jesus Restores Our Humanity in a Dehumanised World. And even now, just what you're sharing a little bit is testifying to how Jesus restored, and is restoring your humanity in terms of your family and who you are as a man and a dad. And, and this book, you tell a lot. You tell a lot of stories from, from your life and journey. Give us give us a summary for your readers. What were you trying to accomplish with this book, which is really got a lot of a lot of personal stuff and a lot of reflection. What, what can readers expect in this book? It's not like a traditional apologetics book, right? It's not a book like Tim Keller's book will outline like these topics and we're going to address them. And these arguments, this, this approaches things differently. Talk to us a little bit about this book, Reclaimed.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, well, the this book, kind of multifaceted. There's so many things to say about it.

Andy Steiger:
Well, the first would be, I think that this book is needed. And I, and I think any book that you write that's that should be your motivation for writing it is because there's a lack thereof and, and you're trying to fill a need.

Andy Steiger:
And so I would say that today, I think one of the greatest or if I would say the greatest question, that we are wrestling with the society, as a society right now and we've been wrestling with it for a while, is what does it mean to be human? It is a foundational question that has been eroded away within our society that, that we need to understand and be able to, to explain, particularly as Christians of all people that should be able to answer this question.

Andy Steiger:
We should be able to. And so I've just seen that there's such a lack of what we call theological anthropology. And so I wanted to be able to write into that space of what does it mean to be a human and to actually answer that question from a multiple, from four, four specific questions. What is human? What's the value of human life? What leads to human flourishing and how should humans live?

Andy Steiger:
And so, so that's what I, I wanted to do. And I also want to write it in such a way that people could understand it. That's a big thing for me. So many books in apologetics tend to be written to the master's level and above. And so I wanted to just I wanted something that anybody could pick up, understand,

Andy Steiger:
read and enjoy, and so I love telling stories and stories. Storytelling is a big part of that book. Now, this book, though, does have a foundation to it. That's so on the flip side, for the last five years, I've been completing my PhD at Aberdeen University in this subject matter. So that's the foundation.

Andy Steiger:
But I didn't want to write this at super academic work, which I would actually argue is easier. It's easier to write a, you know, an academic work, but to, but to take these ideas in, to simplify them and to really make them applicable. That's hard to do. And I wanted to engage with where cultures that. So those who read the book, I my goal is, is it really opens their eyes to where we are as a society, what's going on? And, and making sure that we see ourselves correctly and making sure we see one another correctly. And that all begins with our view of God.

Rob Thiessen:
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. So you do, it is an interesting, interesting ride. You know, you're, you're jumping around from your own story in childhood to, to historical situations, to some of your travels and. Yeah, it's excellent. Which, by the way and I didn't, I didn't say it at the beginning of the podcast, although I'm sure it will get. Get edited into the beginning, the reason for our podcast today and why you're a guest is to talk exactly about these questions as to like how do we handle droughts and how can we, as those who are serving the Lord, serving the churches, just do a better job of communicating and communicating the hope, like you said, the meaning of apologetics, the whole the reason for the hope that is in us.

Rob Thiessen:
And that's obviously what the Lord has led you into.

Rob Thiessen:
And what, like that's a big thing for a guy to come up and start Apologetics Canada. So what was the you know, what was the big need there that caused you to dream that kind of a dream and.

Andy Steiger:
Well, I it's kind of funny.

Andy Steiger:
I feel like the Lord's always kind of putting bread breadcrumbs for me, just kind of coaxing me along to give me a go a little farther. A little farther.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, because it's the funny story is I'm down in Los Angeles doing my master's degree and I didn't go there again to be some apologist. I went there to be a missionary. But when I was there, I began to hear about how many young people were leaving the faith because of their questions. Questions that weren't being addressed and, and these doubts that they were struggling with. And I thought this is absolutely tragic and this needs to be addressed. And that's where God, I think, began to seed this desire to start Apologetics Canada.

Andy Steiger:
But the, I think the funny part of it is. When I was down in Los Angeles, I participated in a class, long story short, I did really well. I got invited to do a radio show in Los Angeles with Apologetics.com. I began to see how amazing that the work they were doing was and is and the people that were coming to faith through it and being encouraged by it. And I thought, man, this is such an incredible ministry that is really needs to be taking place up in Canada. We need something like this. So in my mind, I would be I was thinking, OK, I'll go back up to Canada and I'll be Apologetics.com Canada. Well, the dot com got dropped and it just became Apologetics Canada. And so it was quite like some time later, a couple of years later, that somebody said to me, wow, that's a really ambitious name.

Andy Steiger:
You gave your organization, you know, Apologetics Canada and I. And it was funny because then I just started laughing about it because I thought I'd never thought of it in that way. I always thought again as Apologetics.com Canada.

Andy Steiger:
But it's been amazing to see that God knew what he was doing. And we, we have been a ministry that has and continues to do work across Canada in a multiplicity of ways.

Andy Steiger:
So that's kind of, it's our humble beginnings. But not realizing that we were shooting for something bigger is pretty funny.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah. Hey, that's very cool. So, yeah, this focus that you felt to address the need of of young adult exodus from the church and to, to talk about the fruit that comes from just bringing a reasoned or cogent argument for the faith. Talk to us a little bit about the intersection of a healthy church experience and the apologetics side of things. Like the one when you think of the word apologetics, you know, it's got the word logos in it, it's got the word for, you know, reasoning. It's, it's, it's thoughtful. But then there's just the experience of community and church. Talk to us about the intersection, how to not, which is more important. But but how do these things relate and why are they both important? And what what's the optimal?

Andy Steiger:
Well, listen, from my 20 years of working in church ministry and particularly my last seven years or so of working in young adult ministry, I think there's a couple of things that have been highlighted for me in that, that ministers listening to this podcast.

Andy Steiger:
I think will find interesting. So we do a podcast, by the way, called Apologetics Canada Podcast. We've been doing that now for seven or so years. And one of the things that we hear consistently that people love about the podcast isnt just that we will answer questions and we deal with what's going on in culture. So we're relevant.

Andy Steiger:
But the thing that I find so fascinating is most listeners will tell you that they like the podcast because we deal with those things, but we deal with them with gentleness and respect. And, and I mean this overwhelmingly, that's what we hear back from people that they, that that, that is a breath of fresh air in a society that is constantly at war with one another to be able to have this kind of safe place, if you will, that you can come and just engage with, with what's going on. But, but that it's, but it's not this hostility. It's, it's done respectfully. So, so I have found that that's, that's quite interesting. And, and to be honest, though, you know, I recently was reading a journal article and I had been reading two guys that were interacting back and forth with each other.

Andy Steiger:
And it was just interesting for me even to witness because I saw this one scholar respond back to this other scholar, and he did so just with humility. He did so with just gentleness and, and respect. And, and I even was caught up in the winsomeness of it, because you really want to give that a hearing, because especially in our culture today is just so lacking. It is just so lacking. So I would really want to encourage listeners just in that.

Andy Steiger:
So really check the timber of your,of your interactions and how you're how you're answering questions.

Andy Steiger:
But then that leads us just to the idea of what is going on in society and making sure that we're engaging with those issues and helping people wrestle with, with the questions that they're bringing up with the doubts that they have. And, and that means that you've got to be in touch with your community, that you know what, what they're wrestling with, what are the questions that are being asked. So that's something that a as, a as an organization we're constantly engaged in. And I'm always looking into the future. Right. What are the. Because when we host events and stuff, we're trying to equip people not just for the questions of the past. You know, we're trying to say where questions are being asked now and what are questions that will be asked, because I think so often we're playing this game of catch up where we need to be proactive in and seen where culture is going and that we're engaging with those issues. So so, again, that's, that's an important part of of what we do or.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, well, yeah. so let me, one of the questions that I wanted to ask you is that, you were involved at Northview like you were saying, the young adults group grew so put, putting on your pastor's hat. Why are young adults staying in the church? Like what?

Rob Thiessen:
What are the dynamics in a church that makes the church attractive for young adults? Yeah. So put on your pastor's hat for, for a for a minute on this side of it and talk to us a little bit about that.

Andy Steiger:
Here is what, here's the, here's what I've, here's what I've learned and, and again, this is something that I think pastors need to think about, and this is something that I talk about in my book, Reclaimed quite a bit about.

Andy Steiger:
And that is the importance of community. Now, when you hear Jesus talking and people asking when he's teaching and people are listening and they keep asking him questions or whatever, this is something that's interesting. What he keeps preaching on and what they even respond back to him with is the idea of relationship. So they'll ask him, what's the greatest commandment Jesus? And Jesus will tell them, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. And in other words, Jesus saying, hey, listen, if you want to know what's most important in this life, here it is.

Andy Steiger:
And this is kind of interesting. If I could just take a take. If I could just take a moment, because I spoke on this the other day and then somebody came up to me and asked me, well, what about the Westminster catechism?

Andy Steiger:
And the chief aim of man is to glorify God, enjoy him forever. And and listen, I think that's great and everything.

Andy Steiger:
But show me a verse for that and, and here's why. Here's what I'm getting at is I think it's so interesting to me how many people will quote that to me and, and yet not quote Jesus.

Andy Steiger:
So Jesus, doesn't say that, He says to love God, with all our heart,mind,soul and strength. That's the hebraic way of saying love God with everything that it means to be human, and to love people? And it's interesting because you'll have teachers of the law like we read in Luke, that will come and say, Jesus, what do I need to do to inherit eternal life and Jesus says, well? Well, what do you think? Basically, what have you heard me teaching? And then they parrot back to him that it's from Deuteronomy, Chapter six. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And then Jesus added to it Leviticus 19 and love your neighbor as yourself. And then that then, then if you remember from that, the teacher of the law wants to ask Jesus, who is my neighbor, wants to justify not who can I include into community but who can I exclude from community, who do I not have to love Jesus. And this is when Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Andy Steiger:
Now, now, listen in me saying this. I'm not saying that the catechism has it wrong.

Andy Steiger:
I think that our goal should be to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But my point would be this. What does that actually mean? I guess if I sometimes I get fired up when people will use theological ideas but not actually know what they mean by those ideas.

Andy Steiger:
And, and to put that in the context of Jesus' teaching, to glorify God is to love him. And is to love other people. And, and to enjoy him forever is relationship, its relationship with God, its relationship with one another. And in fact, Jesus prays this and John 17. This is eternal life that they may know you. He says. So here's my point in all this. One of the things that I began to really understand in my time working with young adults is, first of all, that relationship and theology within the context of relationship is is missing. I think we need to do a lot better job at seeing the context of community and our preaching.

Andy Steiger:
And I mean it by this too in a very practical sense, how often I'll hear people talk about the gospel as accepting Jesus into your, into your heart in this personal relationship with God idea. And, and I think we need to remember that the gospel is not just about a personal relationship with God. It's also about a corporate relationship with God. It's both. And you could see this, too, in the Gospels. I mean, the Gentiles understood the personal relationship with God. The Jews understood the corporate relationship with God. And really, you see a melding of these two coming together where we have we can love God individually, but we can love God corporately.

Andy Steiger:
And again, why I'm pushing this is this idea of community. So honestly, Rob, I can't say enough about the concept of, of community. When I pastored, we went from 30 young adults with three leaders. And over the seven years we went to 80 leaders. Hundreds of young adults is somewhere around three to four hundred or so. And then here's the big one, though, 19 community groups when, when I left. Now, why am I bringing that up? This isn't like some number flaunting thing. What I think pastors need to understand is that our growth was all community based. It was relationship based. You are dealing with an incredibly lonely, isolated and anxious culture of young adults, and they are dying for community, healthy community that again loves God and loves one another. And when they come into relationship with that, when they, when they experience that, it will change their lives as I, as I witnessed. So, again, if I could just say a couple more things on this. I can't tell you the number of young people that came to faith, not through my preaching, but through their community group.

Andy Steiger:
Over and over again, my community group included, I had a number of people came to faith. Why? Through relationship that they experienced the gospel. And, and again, it changed them. And so here's my last story on this. And then, and then I'll stop preaching. But as you could tell, it fires me up. I had a young adult come to me after right. Is the last night of the season and was going into summer. And she came up to me crying and she said, Andy, she says, This is my last young adults night. I'm heading back to Toronto. She was here to go to school. She's going back to Toronto. And she said, Andy, I am terrified to leave this place. And I said, I said, why is that? And she says, Because I came here, weak in my faith, incredibly lonely, looking for community, I came, I came to this church and I was welcomed in to a relationship with God and a relationship with people, and it changed my life. And she said, I don't want to leave this community.

Andy Steiger:
And I, is one of the and it is this moment where I got to quote Jesus, it was just glorious. You pastors, you know, those moments where I quoted from Matthew, chapter five, when Jesus is speaking to his disciples and he says, you are the salt of the earth, you are the human flavor. And I just go and it just said to this girl, I said, listen, you're going home with the, with that flavor. You're going home with that understanding of the importance of community. You take it with you. And I said, go be salt, go be light in your community as, as the gospel goes with you and as you, as you see that sort of community develop where you go, you take that with you. That honestly, I could, I could just talk the whole time on that alone.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, that would be the key, honestly.

Rob Thiessen:
Well, it's so good that you bring that up, Andy, in the context of a person feeling called to work on philosophical arguments and other things to emphasize that it's the experience of community that, and of the spirit of Christ, you know, that people are hungry for. And that keeps them in in a church. And yeah. So pastors, you know, especially we've got a lot of emphasis on preaching. And I want to talk to you a little bit about that, which is great. And there's a lot, you know, a lot of encouragement needed there. But when a pastor just thinks, oh, you know, my job is just to preach the word and then, you know, like kind of organizing social things is beneath me. It's like such a brutal mistake because people need each other. And, and, of course, as you experienced, the pastor, which I've had to do, is as the group grows, the logistics grow and, and doing the social thing. It's work. It's just work. And so. Yeah, and, and yet, you know, you bring the people together, you serve them by organizing it. And lo and behold, God shows up and, and then and when you add worship into it, too, like that's a huge part of the corporate experience. Right. People are worshiping God together and they're they're connecting with the Lord and something happens. Jesus shows up like he promised he would, you know, when we're gathered in his name, lifting him up. And yeah. So I really long for a church that I grew up with, an amazing young adults group at Willingdon, too.

Rob Thiessen:
And, you know, in my life, whatever doubts came along. I always knew that the church, the church rocks, you know, it's like I you know, I went to whatever secular high school I had friends and I was like, yeah, you, you've got nothing. You've got nothing on what I have in my community. I never thought about it that way. But deep down, I knew that I had my group and my church was an amazing place to be. So, yeah, that's a powerful, apologetic, right and, an encouragement to our pastors and leaders, like pay attention to it, even though you have to do it all. But I'm sure you didn't do it all either. But you organized people. You saw to it that somebody with gifts was looking after who was bringing the buns, you know?

Andy Steiger:
Well, that, that was a big so I'd say there's two things that were really important there. One is I'm identifying leaders and I'm, and I'm equipping and releasing leaders to create community. And then the second thing is in the preaching, I'm constantly bleeding that vision of community, of relationship and in in people welcoming people inside, because the problem is, is in our sinful brokenness.

Andy Steiger:
And this gets back to the book. We tend to not humanize. We tend to dehumanize. We tend to push away. We tend to exclude. And this is what Jesus challenges this teacher of the law and tells him the story of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus humanizes the villain of the day, the ones that he would like to justify, to exclude. And so this becomes really challenging for us when we think to ourselves, who am I trying to exclude? Who, who would if I had asked Jesus the question, who's my neighbor? Who would he have made the hero of the story? That's, that's the question. Hmm. And our goal, again, to be welcoming that we're inviting people in.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. That's so good. And I think about, you know, in my preaching, there was a point this was quite a few years ago, maybe, you know, maybe I was 10 years in already. And we were listening to Wayne Cordeiro. He was at New Hope, you know, in Hawaii there. And I noticed that he smiled a lot, you know, when he spoke and thought, well, maybe he's just a smiling Hawaiian guy, you know, who wouldn't smile if you were pastoring a church in Hawaii. But my my wife said to me, you know, you can smile more, you know, and and it's like, so so she said, like, it's like when you preach and you get into apologetics mode, like you're defending the faith or something you put on like this bitter face like this, like you're you're fighting the enemies, you know, and it's just not winsome.

Rob Thiessen:
And so she says, you know, you could smile more and always reminds me of Mother Teresa. You know, the story is told that she had a bunch of theologians who visited her there in Calcutta. And finally before they left, they stood around her and asked whether she had a word of wisdom for them. She looked at them and said, you should smile more. And, and I think what you're describing is apologetics. That's winsome. And, you know, there are some great models there. The other day, I listen to a podcast with Sean McDowell and, and he was interviewing the guy from Hawk Nelson who walked away from his faith. And I was impressed how Sean was winsome in that thing, not judging, just totally like drawing a person into a good conversation.

Rob Thiessen:
And Hawk, that's not the guy's name, it's the name of the band. I can remember what the guy's name was, but this guy, the lead singer of Hawk Nelson, who walked away from the Lord and a big part of his losing his faith was he identified. He said in all his years of doing concerts, he was not connected to a church. He bumped around from church to church and group to group was not connected. And he he self-identified that, that was not good for his faith. And then he finally got to a place where he felt like he just had too many doubts. Hey, I want to ask you a question about doubts. You know, what is what is a common sort of doubt issue that young people are wrestling and, and maybe even for you personally. And if you want to tackle it, what, what do you think is one of the tougher questions that you've wrestled with in terms of faith that, you know, causes you to go? Yeah, that is a tough thing. I don't know if I'll know the answer on this side that I'm happy with.

Andy Steiger:
Well, the question that always gets brought up and I think is that the just the heart of who we are as people is the question of evil.

Andy Steiger:
And so, you know, I almost I can't help but think in my time doing ministry that every question eventually leads back to that question. And it's interesting that that's at the heart of the, the fall and the where the Bible begins and where the Bible ends is dealing with, with evil. So and so, I think that that's been the number one question. One of the things I find interesting about the question is most people will ask the question, why does God allow evil? That's kind of how it's often posed. In the book, I deal with the question, though, from a different angle that was posed to me by a guy in jail.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I read that.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. If you remember that, I, I was speaking at a maximum security prison was one of those moments where you're like, why did I take on this speaking engagement? Because they asked me to talk about evil and, and why God allows evil.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, I know.

Andy Steiger:
Right. And on paper, It looks fine. But then you're standing in front of 60 inmates and dealing with this complicated question with people that have done some terrible things.

Andy Steiger:
And one of the guys stands up, he, he's so ashamed of what he's done, he can't even look me in the eye. He stares at the floor as he ask this question, but he asks this. And I think this is the right question. He says, why did God allow me to do evil? But he said it this way. He said, why did God allow me to kill three people? And then he sat down and it was at that moment that I thought I shouldn't have taken this speaking engagement.

Andy Steiger:
But yeah. So if you want to see how I dealt with that question, you can see it in the book.

Andy Steiger:
But that's, that's the the big ones here. Here's the deal with my own faith. You might, this is, this is what I've experienced personally. When I became a Christian and felt God's call in my my heart.

Andy Steiger:
I went to Bible college. When I went to Bible college, I was afraid. I was afraid because I thought if I dug into this faith thing, I would find things there that we're going to erode my, my faith. I would find questions that couldn't be answered, or had bad answered. And I was going to need to, to leave my faith, which I was prepared to do.

Andy Steiger:
I wanted to believe truth, but I do my B.A. and I come away from that going, man! This, this Christianity thing isn't isn't just changing my life.

Andy Steiger:
This is true. And I found answers there that encouraged me. But then I went off to do my master's degree and I had the exact same fear creep in again. What happens if I go deeper? Am I going to be encouraged or discouraged? Will I come away from my master's degree incredibly encouraged again. And I, and I have this moment where and people who are around me know I often say that I love being a Christian. I love following Jesus because I have found that Colossians chapter two, verse three, my favorite verse in the Bible, one of I have a lot say.

Andy Steiger:
Paul says that in Jesus are, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And I found that that was true. And then lastly, I did my PhD and going into that, I feared again what's going to happen when I go to rock bottom.

Andy Steiger:
But again, I walked away from that, so encouraged in my faith. So here's my here's my point in all of that. I don't think that there's a question that I haven't already dealt with that would weaken my faith. I there's, there's that my faith is rock solid and I've gone as deep as I can.

Andy Steiger:
And the questions and everything I found is just pure gold and has encouraged me immensely in my faith. So I don't think that that is where Satan would spend his time.

Andy Steiger:
If we're reading something like The Screwtape Letters, I think Screwtape would inform and instruct Wormwood to attack my pride or my false sense of humility and to. To tempt me into sin and to evil, I think that that's where and here and the reason I'm saying that, by the way, is this I think that's true of a lot of pastors. Yeah.

Andy Steiger:
And I think that as pastors, we are incredibly susceptible to pride. Paul says this, by the way, in Romans Chapter 15, he says as he concludes that letter that I boast in Jesus, because here's what he says. I think so interesting.

Andy Steiger:
I think as pastors, we really need to think and pray about, as he says, that as ministers we are preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit, right? We are the power of the gospel is going forth. And if we're not careful, we can think that people's lives are being changed and impacted and that power is because of me. And Paul says, I know that it's not because of me and I and I can't boast in me. I've got to boast in Jesus in the power of the gospel, because that's where I come from. So I say that because I think as ministers. I'm curious your thoughts on this, Rob. I think we are so susceptible to being seduced by pride.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah. I think it was a couple of weeks ago in the newsletter, I wrote an article on entitlement and just I think that it's sometimes as ministers we think, well, it's easy to think, OK, now I'm more mature. And so now I'm beyond these things. But the more mature you get, the more entitlement creeps up. And I mean, you know, I know maybe the jury's out still, but, you know, you look at Ravi Zacharias and you think, OK, there's a guy that had his ducks in a row intellectually, but what happened and what causes the guy to compromise on some moral levels? It's entitlement. It's thinking, well, I deserve this or, you know, I've served God or look at how faithful I am and look at how God is using me. And yeah, that's what trips us up. So it's, it's pride and, and that and the pride manifests itself in that kind of entitlement mentality. And yeah, the scripture is so full of warnings. Jesus said, you're a servant and you've watched me and this is how you're going to lead to.

Andy Steiger:
And so that's I think it's I think it's interesting, by the way, that when you look at those people who had every reason to believe, such as Adam and Eve, such as the Angels, you know, they didn't need arguments for God's existence in the life, but yet they could lose their faith. And, and again, what was it? It was it was pride.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah. You know, when I think about some of the tough questions, like you said, about evil, I don't know how it is for you, but it's not like I feel like I have a good answer for those things. It's just that the further I explore everybody else's answer, the more I think no, no, no, I'm OK. I got questions, but I'm, I'm a much happier with my questions than what the conclusions the other people are drawing. And you draw it. Draw that out in your book, Reclaimed. Right. You follow people's pathways, whether it's a Sam Harris or whatever I say. Really. OK, well, let's follow that along and see where that goes.

Andy Steiger:
And that that's that's exactly right. I was actually teaching to some students recently in Immerse class where I was talking to him exactly about that.

Andy Steiger:
I said, listen, if you're going to be a pastor that walks into some of the darkest evil that this world has to offer and trust me, you will, you do ministry long enough. You're going to experience some horrendous things with people as you walk with them, either yourself or those in your congregation that are going through these moments of evil. And you're going to need to have a solid foundation to, to weather that with them, because it's interesting to me that when you walk through evil with people, what they need is your presence and they need you just to listen and to love for the love them in those moments, that's all they need. They don't need some answer. They just need you. But for you to be able to do that, to be able to be that for them, you're going to have to have answers. You're going to have to have a solid foundation. And so for me not to go too deep into this, I do deal with this question in a different book I wrote called Thinking Answering Life's Five Biggest Questions. But for, for me, the question of evil is not a question that, that, that causes me to doubt God. It causes me to believe even more firmly in God. It's because I'm convinced that evil exists, that I must be convinced that good exists. Yeah. Yeah. Not to go too too far into that, but. You know, evil is the corruption of something, so it's kind of like counterfeit currency, you need to have the currency to have the counterfeit.

Andy Steiger:
You need to have the good to have the bad. So I'm, I am more convinced that the good exists, at any rate, that, that's where my foundation is is found.

Rob Thiessen:
In the alpha course, they talk about that, the illustration. They were asking what people believe in God and people had their doubts. And then he asked, well, do you believe in the devil? Oh, he says, no problem. I believe in the devil he advertises. And, and this is what you're saying to you.

Rob Thiessen:
It's like, well, if you have a problem believing in God, let's start with evil then, because most people go, you don't know. I it's hard for me to understand life if I don't come to terms with evil, if I'm in denial about that. And once you've established that, say, OK, where does that come from? Yeah, it's very good, Andy. And you've, you've explored a lot of these things and you're helping the churches. Hey, I wanted to ask a closing question here. We've gone long, but for pastors who are preaching week in and week out and, and sermons do send a big signal to, to the community helping helping them. We've already talked about being positive, being, you know, encouraging, not being oppositional. Are there some other kind of key questions that you ask yourself going into preaching that would help make sermons, you know, more to the point of addressing the doubts that are out there, how does a pastor do that to to communicate to young adults and people with doubts in, in the preaching week in, week out, you know, going into Christmas, preaching Christmas sermons.

Rob Thiessen:
Now, how do you, how do you make sure that these messages have a point to them that addresses the apologetic questions of the day?

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, that's a great, that's a great question. One of one of the things that I think is first helpful for pastors to appreciate is this.

Andy Steiger:
You know, it took me far too long in my preaching to, to realize and like let's just take, for example, the gospels. That when I'm reading the gospels, the gospel writers are not writing there what can be remembered or what was told to them or whatever. You know, John tells you explicitly at the end of his gospel, I could have written a whole lot more. Right. But he's writing what he wants you to to know. And, and one of the things that's important to understand, you see it through the gospels, you see it through acts, you see it through the letters specifically just focusing on the New Testament here. They're constantly making an argument. They're constantly engaging what's going on at that time in the churches, in society, they are, they're constantly doing that. That is a model for us, I believe, in our preaching, in our teaching to listen there. This isn't just like this isn't just what they could remember sort of stuff is what they want you to know. This is them engaging.

Rob Thiessen:
It's not just storytelling. This isn't just story hour, right?

Andy Steiger:
That's right. That's right. And so it's it's all.

Andy Steiger:
Very, very focused and purposeful. Our preaching needs to be the same way. So listen, pastors, be careful when you use an illustration. Make sure that that illustration is actually illustrating your purpose and not just your best story or a funny story or what you can think of that. That means you're going to need to put a little bit more work into it. But it's, it's going to be so much, so much better. The other thing is, is so often I have found in preaching is that the text will just often. Open itself up because it's dealing with its own cultural context. It, it just leads to you being able to deal with the cultural context of this time. So in our preaching, you first deal with the context it's written in and then you can apply that into your own time. And it's just it's a great bridge to be able to then see and know, OK, this is going on in our culture. Let's address what's going on here from, from this passage. Let the Bible speak for itself. You don't need to be the authority to allow the Bible to be the authority.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, those are some very quick ones.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. I think one of the questions that I picked up in a course once the pastor asked, what lie is this text engaging? Like what lie in the culture is this text engaging?

Rob Thiessen:
So it's, it's like you're saying there's an argument here, there's a point to be made. And what is that point? And in today's context and, and that's super important.

Rob Thiessen:
I think, you know, listening to preachers to John Ortberg is good this way.

Rob Thiessen:
You know, maybe it's his psychological training, but there's something about the way he talks, how he understands people. And you're like, yes, that's right. People, people in the Bible are like people today. You know, they're wrestling with the same doubts and questions and it's being able to spot those and bring those to the front that helps people grasp the word of God is speaking to me now.

Rob Thiessen:
That's good. Well, it's been great to have a conversation with you Andy. I'm so thankful for the ministry and, and what God has led you to. And of course, I think most of our listeners are familiar with the Apologetics Canada conferences.

Rob Thiessen:
You know, what did you do in twenty twenty this year?

Rob Thiessen:
Was it a virtual conference or how did we do that with covid and what's going on for next year?

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, so I, I squeaked in the last conference I think probably happened in, in Canada. So it was just days after our twenty twenty conference that the nation shut down. That world shut down. That was March right. Yeah it was March. The conference was at the beginning of March.

Andy Steiger:
And so, and thankfully no one was sick at our conference and the was not against us and it was not a super spreader event. No, it wasn't.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. So we, you know, we one of the things that we talked about at the conference, this was our tenth year doing it. For those people that are unfamiliar with the conference, it it's been something that God is just really richly used and we've been so encouraged by. We're not stopping, but we are changing the way we're doing it moving forward. So we're going to be moving to more just one day events.

Andy Steiger:
And instead of just being in one location, you're going to see us in Vancouver, you're going to see us in in the Valley here in British Columbia, but you will see us across Canada doing a variety of different events. So, so that's what you can look forward to in the future, because we've heard from so many people in the different provinces that would like Apologetics Canada to, to come. So we've we've done a lot in British Columbia. We've done a lot in Ontario. But we're going to start, start spreading out. And one of the ways to do that is to really simplify what we've, what we've done in the past, because, as you know, we, we went pretty big with those conferences, but they required lots of, lots of money, lots of volunteers, and it's just not logistically possible to move that around. So we're shrinking that down to one day events that we're going to host. Now with regards to Covid were unsure what's happening. We are currently in communication with West Side Church about pulling something off in March that will probably be live and virtual. So we, we should be publishing about that within the next month.

Rob Thiessen:
Excellent. Oh, that's great. So, Andy, thanks for your time. A couple of books that you've written, Thinking and Reclaimed.

Rob Thiessen:
And you mentioned the podcast at Apologetics Canada is out on iTunes and Spotify. And those things just look it up?

Andy Steiger:
Yep, yep. Wherever podcasts are found, you can find us. Excellent.

Rob Thiessen:
Thanks so much for your time and for all of you who are listening with us today. Thanks for giving us this hour of your day. And may God bless you richly in your ministry. Look forward to, to our next time together on the BCMB Pastor Pastor podcast. Bye for now.

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