I am addicted to ESPN’s “30 for 30″ Series. If you are unfamiliar with “30 for 30″ it is the umbrella title for a series of 30 documentaries covering the first thirty years of ESPN’s history (although it proved so popular that it has gone well beyond 30 films). The series covers such memorable events as Michael Jordan’s first retirement to try out for major league baseball, the run of Michigan’s “Fab Five,” the death of college basketball standout Len Bias, etc. My favorite, however, is the show focusing on the 1988-1990 Detroit Pistons who won back-to-back NBA championships and were known as “The Bad Boys.”
I love this documentary because I was a fan of the “Bad Boys” back in the day and it helped unpack one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite sports tomes of all time The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons (warning–the language can be a little rough!). Simmons brings us back to an interview with Isaiah Thomas, the Pistons great point guard, who after a game told a reporter why the team was so successful. Thomas called it, “The Secret” and Simmons believes it is the key to true greatness.
“The Secret” is this–a team achieves consistent excellence when they don’t care about individual statistics only about whether they win. In other words, great teams play as teams with egos in check. The San Antonio Spurs are currently showing the world how well “The Secret” works.
What does this have to do with defending the Christian faith? Everything.
Few people can adequately tackle every facet of apologetics. Today Christian leaders who truly engage the culture are asked to be conversant in Biblical studies, theology, history, politics, science and philosophy. No one, (save maybe William Lane Craig) can do this well.
Most apologists, professional and lay, still try to cover all these bases. Certainly, to an extent, we should at least have a cursory knowledge of all of these areas as all of them come into play in evangelism and discipleship in our post-Christian culture. However, we need not try to be experts in everything but should seek out others in our churches who have the background and passion to master the disciplines we cannot and to build apologetic teams in our churches.
It is possible in the average church to have the senior pastor focus on resolving supposed difficulties in the Biblical text, to have a doctor or teacher tackle science questions and to have a lawyer (yes, there are Christian lawyers…it’s not a contradiction in terms) cover issues arising in the public square. Establishing a team in the church will require committed apologists to do something that we are not typically good at–telling a potential convert, “I don’t know. It’s not my area but let me introduce you to someone who knows this stuff well.”
I got into the apologetic business primarily to reach people for Christ and disciple them in the faith. I love to bring people to Jesus and help them grow. In that sense, I am the Kobe Bryant of discipleship because I am a ball hog who doesn’t like to pass off people to others. I have an ego and I struggle with being a control freak.
But it ain’t about me and claiming treasures in heaven with only my name on them. I need to be a part of a team. I need to apply the secret to my own work as an apologist/pastor. It isn’t about who gets the credit, it’s about victories for the Kingdom.