Northwest Baptist Seminary is approaching 80 years of history in partnering students and churches to make a God honoring impact. God has used, and continues to use, faithful men and women in ministry to make His mark on our world today.
I recently had opportunity to interview Northwest Baptist Theological College alumni Andy and Nancy Steiger.
They noted in my interview, and I had heard before, that they were declared “the most unlikely couple” to emerge from Northwest. It would seem that God knew what He was doing bringing the two of them together for partnership in life and ministry. Andy (NBTC 1998-2000) serves as the Pastor of Young Adults at Northview Community Church in Abbotsford, and is the founder and director of Apologetics Canada, while his wife Nancy (Schellenberg – NBTC 96-99) is full time mother, and part time Executive Assistant for Apologetics Canada. They have two children, Tristan (7) and William (5) and live in Abbotsford.
Apologetics Canada has developed a significant identity in the Lower Mainland through its conference ministry over the last four years, bringing together thousands to benefit from the teaching of top apologists from around the world. Apologetics Canada has captivated a younger generation of believers looking for an authentic community where their significant questions and doubts about Christianity and faith can be addressed with reasoned and logically plausible answers. The appeal is apparently broader than just the next generation. While they specifically target young adults and the next generation of leaders, they are drawing in multiple generations of believers from multiple denominations and faith expressions.
Curious about the God-shaping developments and events that are part of any ministry’s growth and effectiveness, I asked, “How did God bring this thing about?” They responded that they both recognized early on that they were missionaries at heart. As they began their life journey together, they envisioned serving God as missionaries to a small people group – “running around naked with the natives” as Andy so eloquently expresses it. God was nudging them in a slightly different direction.
As they were waiting on applications to missions agencies, God began to make Andy aware of a struggling people group and culture within North America – young adults. This next generation is either leaving the church or just leaving the church behind, unsure of what they believe and unsure of the reasonableness of the faith they have been taught. His bent towards missionary service helped him understand that you need two things to be successful in reaching any people group – you need to know their language and their culture. He thought he knew the language and culture of this people group because he was serving them within the church. He began to realize he didn’t, and was therefore drawn to understand more fully this particularly needy group in his own back yard.
In 2009 the Steiger’s young family moved to California to attend Biola University. Andy packed a 2 year master’s degree into a year and a half, graduating with a Masters in Apologetics (with Highest Honors) in 2010. During this time, a vision was birthed for Apologetics Canada. The Steiger’s passion for the work of Apologetics Canada is obvious as you talk with them. They both speak with passion and insight as they describe the core of what they do and how they seek to do it. The name “Apologetics Canada” is strategic. “Apologetics is a term (and discipline) that needs to be redeemed,” says Andy. It comes from a Greek word that means to “give reason” for the hope you have. Andy sees himself as a translator, appreciating the work of theologians and academics pursuing disciplines in high thinking, but seeking to make it possible for the average person to understand and express deep thinking in their own thoughts and words. They faithfully uphold that Christianity is not a tradition of blind faith, but a reasoned faith. Faith is another key word in their vocabulary. It means “trusting what you have good reason to believe is true.” Their vision biblically is from Romans 12, that transforming your mind should result in transforming the way you live; that faith touches your head and your heart; that loving God also means loving people!
Nancy’s passion for the work of Apologetics Canada is evident. I asked how it came about, since Andy was the one going to school and studying. Her response – knowledge has grown from reading, listening, and conversation. More importantly, her motivation to learn was birthed through her desire to engage her son Tristan in conversation equivocal to the depth of the questions she was being asked by him. Her desire to be a great mom for her kids highlights an important question for us all – who is the motivating force behind your desire to grow your knowledge and skill in answering the questions of faith for our day and the next generations?
As we concluded our time together, I asked what insight they might have for what the questions and issues of church and culture in the future might be. Andy responded with two thoughts.
The question that has dominated the Enlightenment period has been “Does God Exist?” The resulting question for our time might just be “Do people exist?” Andy’s recent seminar at the Apologetics Canada Conference, “Zombie Culture,” addressed the evidence and issues that result from a culture that is uncertain of God’s existence and leads to the next logical uncertainty, our own existence.
He also suggested that the church needs to monitor the effects of social media on our culture, especially noting the tendency of people to prefer a virtual community over a real community, their walls being the computer, phone, or tablet screen, keeping them from engaging in community with God, the church, and peers.
What’s next for Apologetics Canada? The big goal for the immediate future is to take the new “Thinking Series” across Canada and the US. This resource enables pastors and lay ministry leaders to equip their church for thinking deeply and engaging the culture. They are also looking forward to presenting their first Eastern Canada Apologetics Conference in Ontario.
Many resources are available for people to discover on the Apologetics Canada website
www.apologeticscanada.com and www.thinkingseries.com. While you are there, check out Andy’s new book, “Thinking? Answering Life’s 5 Biggest Questions.”