of Christian Worldview and Apologetics
Hi, my name is Greg Powell, and I'll be teaching the Summit Worldview classes this next school year. If you have high school age children (or above), please read through the following information and see if this might be for you and your family. And make sure to check out the short videos on www.Summit.org and www.UnderstandingTheTimes.com. Now here's my bio:
Having grown up here in Houston, it was during my first semester of college at U of H that I entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Following my conversion, I took a semester away from college, spending five months in Yosemite National Park where I was discipled by a very patient group of people at a small Baptist church.
I then returned home and attended Sam Houston State for one year (majoring in music). While at Sam Houston, I got involved with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) and ended up doing several extended ministry projects, including six months in the Philippines showing the Jesus film. Working my way through college as a live-in counselor at a group home for troubled adolescents, I received my B.A. from Biola University in 1985. Then, having spent four years in church youth ministry, I received my ThM from Dallas Seminary in 1992.
I’ve been married to my wife, Diane, for 32 years. We have four amazing children (22, 15, 13, and 9) and one very adorable 1-year-old grandson. Diane and I have ministered together in several churches in the U.S., overseeing youth, college and singles ministries before becoming church planters. We’ve also done some fairly extensive short-term ministry in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, gaining invaluable exposure to Islam, communism, socialism and secular humanism!
After many years away we returned home to Houston, and I’m now the pastor of RiversEnd Community Church (which meets on Sunday mornings @ 10am at the Branch Crossing YMCA in The Woodlands). Our church motto is, “A Family of Friends on Mission Together.” I’m also a member of the One Mission pastoral association of The Woodlands area churches. We’ve homeschooled all four of our children, and we’re currently part of an excellent homeschool co-op (FAITH of Northwest Houston).
I enjoy playing (and sometimes coaching) a variety of sports. My family and I love outdoor activities, especially when they involve mountains, beaches or any body of water big enough in which to fish. We also enjoy playing games together, and we all love reading.
My life verse is Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ!” My great life aim is to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:30-31).
I have a passion for “transformational teaching,” teaching that changes lives. And one field of study that I’ve seen make an especially powerful impact on young people (and older folks too!) is Christian Worldview. So I’m very excited about teaching Summit Ministries’ Understanding The Times worldview curriculum. This next school year will be my second time teaching through Understanding the Times, and I recently went to a week of Summit's worldview teacher training in Colorado. To facilitate biblical worldview teaching (for myself and eventually others with the needed expertise and desire), I’m in the process of launching a project called Summit Academy of Christian Worldview and Apologetics (SACWA). For more information, please go to: www.summitworldview.org
I wrote the following article because I'm so passionately committed to helping young people (and older people too!) understand and embrace a biblical Christian worldview in all aspects and areas of life. Biblical Christianity is Holistic Christianity. The Lordship of Christ extends to the study and practice of philosophy, biology, psychology, sociology, law, ethics, politics, economics, and history just as much as it does to theology. Life with Jesus is all encompassing, all pervasive. This kind of life must be lived just as intentionally and wholeheartedly in our homes and neighborhoods and classrooms and workplaces—and in airport shuttle vans—as in church buildings. Maybe more so. If you would like to make serious progress in the deep development and passionate practice of a truly biblical Christian worldview, please check out summit.org and understandingthetimes.com.
A Cross-Cultural Experience in Colorado: Just (Don’t) Say Jesus
[This is a story from my recent trip to Colorado where I attended a very powerful conference called "Stand." The conference was put on by Summit Ministries (summit.org).]
Having just experienced five days of lectures on culture, worldview and apologetics, I took a shuttle van from the Colorado Springs airport to the Denver airport en route back home to Houston. At first it was just the van driver and me. He was a talkative fellow (kinda like me, I suppose), and we engaged in conversation that quickly turned to meaningful things (like culture, worldview and apologetics).
Topics flowed into other topics rather naturally, and it just felt like a thousand other conversations I've had over the years, not forced but also not meaningless musings on news, sports and weather. Just easy back and forth between two image-bearers... easy, that is, until I said the word, “Jesus.” What followed made me think of M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Village and "those we don't speak of."
When I spoke the name of Jesus, the driver immediately interrupted and, rather frantically, informed me that while it was okay to "talk like that" with him, once we picked up other passengers I'd need to be more careful with my language. He said that it was company policy to disallow "that kind of talk" in front of other passengers because "somebody might sue us." I'm not making this up. He really said that.
Imagine if a grocery store clerk told you not to mention the name of Jesus (or some other name or subject) in the hearing of other customers. Imagine a flight attendant warning you not to mention Jesus to the passenger sitting next to you. Imagine anyone in any business telling their customers what they could or couldn’t talk about with other customers.
Well, having just come from five days of discussions that included various aspects of the fundamental transformation experienced by our culture in recent years, I had a nice little talk with my driver about the marketplace of ideas and why I thought none of us should be afraid to expose our ideas to competing ideas. I also asked him what he would do if the passengers we were about to pick up started talking about religion. He seemed to indicate that he would probably have to hush them too, but he wasn't very convincing. I still had the strong impression that it was just the name of Jesus that had him so worked up. So I decided to test my theory. I would abide by shuttle law and not mention Jesus by name while in the van with other passengers.
When we picked up our other two travelers (a nice lady from the east coast and a pleasant young woman from Sweden) I did what I typically do and engaged them in conversation. Over the next hour and a half we talked about a wide range of subjects, including politics and religion. Our driver proved to be quite a passionate promoter of Donald Trump, even making sure we knew Mr. Trump's middle initial was J. During one segment of our discussion we talked about C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, J. Warner Wallace, Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Colson, Nancy Pearcy and Ravi Zacharias. The van driver jumped in with the question, "What does ‘apologetics’ mean?" After I gave my definition (without mentioning Jesus), our passenger from the east coast revealed that she had been an agnostic when she entered college, but that she had chosen to attend a Catholic university.
During all this time—with the topics of conversation ranging from the Northern Lights in Sweden to Intelligent Design to "retail marijuana" shops to the difference between an atheist and an agnostic—during all this time, our driver never hushed anyone. He even went out of his way to let our lady passengers know that I was a pastor, emphasizing that this probably meant I wouldn't appreciate his choice of radio music (which he played anyway). He allowed our conversation to flow completely unimpeded by any form of company-imposed (or driver-imposed) topical censorship. But then again, I never mentioned Jesus… at least until we arrived at the airport and got out of the van.
With all three passengers and their luggage out of the vehicle, I thanked the driver and gave him a nice tip. Then I re-engaged the two ladies in some farewell conversation. Once the driver figured out that we weren’t going to immediately disperse, he got back into his van and drove away. It was then that I told my new friends exactly what had transpired, asking if they had noticed I hadn’t mentioned Jesus during the entire time of our shared van ride. They seemed pretty intrigued by the whole thing and didn’t appear offended by hearing Jesus' name. After briefly describing God’s plan of salvation, I gave the Swedish young lady my last gospel booklet, wished them both a safe journey, and said goodbye.
As I walked through the Denver airport, it felt a little like walking through certain other airports during some of my past adventures… in places like Havana and Damascus and Amsterdam. America is definitely changing. And biblical Christians need to pay attention and stay engaged. The world needs us, whether they know it or not.
I had a wonderful week in Colorado and can’t wait to return. But this trip proved to be more cross-cultural than I had imagined. I’ll always remember seeing my first “retail marijuana” shops and being told not to talk about Jesus on an airport shuttle. And I had one more interesting experience before boarding my plane. When I asked an airport cop where the restroom was, he replied, “The Men’s is way over there, and the Women’s is here on this side.” At first I felt a little confused by his "too much information" answer, but I guess he just thought I might need options. This is, after all, 2016.
I would imagine that these experiences are just a taste of what's to come. But I'm happy to know that whatever cultural challenges we may face in the future, Jesus will not be caught off guard. He will not be wringing His hands, and neither should we. For the true followers of Jesus, anger and fear will never rule the day. By walking with Him, abiding in Him, resting in Him, and being empowered by His Spirit, we can love our neighbors (and even our enemies) and preach the gospel of the kingdom and enjoy a peace that surpasses comprehension, regardless of whatever circumstances may come our way.
Remember, brothers and sisters, we are pilgrims here. Pilgrims on a rescue mission with Jesus, behind enemy lines. Our citizenship is in heaven. And the deeper we grow in our relationship with the King of Heaven, the more aware we will become of the cross-cultural nature of our assignment. Our goal should never be personal comfort or convenience. Neither should we seek to be seen as acceptable or "appropriate" by our neighbor or our society. Our goal should simply be faithfulness... faithfulness to the One who has called us to bear both His grace and His truth to the world, one heart at a time. He and they deserve no less.
We will be using the BRAND NEW 3-yearUnderstanding the Times digital curriculum that is currently being released by Summit Ministries for students who are high school age or above. To view a short introductory video, as well as the full table of contents for all three years, go to:
Understanding the Times (UTT) introduces students to six dominant worldviews and the ten key academic disciplines they influence, accurately and fairly portraying each worldview while also arguing for the superiority of the biblical Christian worldview. To aid this study, UTT introduces students to the battle of ideas (chapter 1) and then to each of the six competing worldviews (chapters 2–7). After that, students are carefully guided through the ten disciplines that are most influenced by these six worldviews (chapters 8–18). So by the end of the year the student will have studied Theology, Philosophy, Ethics, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Law, Politics, Economics and History through the worldview lenses of Christianity, Islam, Secularism, Marxism, New Spirituality and Postmodernism. And because of this exposure to these major worldviews, the student will be far more capable in defending the Christian faith (1 Peter 3:15) and assessing and addressing the great variety of propositions offered up in the marketplace of ideas, especially in the college classroom.
[This is where we will post any news about the classes and how things are coming along, including specific days, times and locations.]
*It looks like I will be teaching next year with Tomball Classes on Thursday afternoons, 3-4:30pm at Tomball Bible Church.
*On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, I'm hoping to teach a class or two in the Magnolia area and then also in The Woodlands (possibly Cypress). Please contact me if any of these options would work for you.
One final note: My eldest son and I have both been through Summit’s worldview conference in Colorado, and my teenage daughter will be attending this summer. I highly encourage you to consider sending your high school or college age son or daughter to a Summit 12-day summer conference. There is no other camp like it. They also offer a Summit Semester in Colorado and Summit Oxford in England (either 2 or 4 months). For information, go to www.summit.org.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)
"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
We're currently preparing for the inaugural year of Summit Academy of Christian Worldview and Apologetics (SACWA), offering Year 1 as a 25-30 week course (Fall of 2016 through Spring of 2017), meeting once a week for an hour and a half. We will add Year 2 in the Fall of 2017, and Year 3 in the Fall of 2018. Students must be in at least the ninth grade. In addition, they should be relatively mature and willing to be seriously committed to this course and to their teacher and classmates.
We will try to set up the location(s) for the class meetings based on where most of the students live. If your church or business would like to host an afternoon of classes, please let us know.
The first year tuition will be $200 per semester ($150 per student for 2 or more siblings). Class fees will be an additional $50 per semester. (This includes a hard copy of the 500-page textbook, a 1-year license for the digital curriculum and all outside resources, and a 1-year subscription to World magazine). If you’d like to learn more, please complete the INTEREST SURVEY above. You may also email or call me.
Here are the 6 weekly time slots that will be available. (Each of the 6 classes will need to have at least 8 students and one adult assistant.)
12:30-2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays
2:30-4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays
12:30-2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays
2:30-4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays
12:30-2:00 p.m. on Thursdays
3:00-4:30 p.m. on Thursdays (at Tomball Classes, Tomball Bible Church)
You may have heard the statistics that about 80% of young people in the American church stop attending church services once they go away to college. The bad news is that these statistics are real. But the amazingly good news is that students who (1) consistently see the faith lived out at home, (2) experience church as authentic community, and (3) gain a robust understanding of the Christian worldview as well as the competing worldviews… well, about 99% of these students are staying in the church when they go off to college. 99%.
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