Jeremiah Johnston, founder of the Christian Thinkers Society, was announced as the new associate pastor of Apologetics and Cultural Engagement at Prestonwood Baptist Church (PBC) in Plano, Texas. The announcement was made at PBC this past Sunday, April 24, 2022. In addition to his role at the church, Johnston will serve as the dean of Spiritual Development at Prestonwood Christian Academy, a private liberal arts PreK-12 school started in 1997 and affiliated with PBC.
PBC is one of largest Southern Baptist churches in the world, boasting a weekly attendance of 17,000, and pastored by Jack Graham, who said that “the addition of Dr. Johnston and his expertise and spiritual gifting will help undergird what we instill at both the church and school.”
“We live in an ever-changing world and a culture that is constantly shifting,” Graham said. “As believers, we need to be firm in our foundation so we may stand strong for truth in all areas of life. This partnership will become a model for churches and schools as we seek to engage an increasingly hostile and secular culture with our biblical worldview.”
Johnston started the Christian Thinkers Society to train and equip Christians to defend the truth’s of scripture. Their website‘s vision, mission, strategy, and core message explains they teach “pastors and Christians how to become thinkers and thinkers how to become Christians.”
ChurchLeaders reached out to Johnston and asked him to describe his new role at PBC. What follows is that correspondence.
CL: What does it mean to be the Associate Pastor of Apologetics & Cultural Engagement? What will you be doing?
Jeremiah Johnston: As Associate Pastor of Apologetics & Cultural Engagement, my purpose is to collaborate with church members to architect and replicate “Christian Thinking” at every age level! What does success for this position look like? Believers take the Great Commandment to love God with “all their minds” seriously! What’s more: While not characteristic of Prestonwood, many churches struggle to fulfill the Great Commission. Two-thirds of American churches are plateaued or declining; ten are closing every day. We’re seeing an alarming exodus of doubt-plagued students leaving the Church: 35 million young people, raised in Christian families, are projected to abandon their faith by the year 2050.
Why? Because of unanswered questions! In fact, the UK did a survey and the #1 reason believers left the church was unanswered questions. Meanwhile, within our churches, many believers are more capable of defending their choice of coffee and explaining the subtleties between, say, Arabica and Robusta coffee beans, than sharing and defending their personal faith. One doesn’t have to be a professional barista to be a coffee expert – and Christians do not need to be experts per se to be Christian Thinkers and fulfill the great commandment. The goal of this innovative position is to help every believer know it is possible to have a deep faith.
Also, in this role, I will provide professional development training for PBC pastors, staff, and key leaders, focusing on trending questions, best practices in communicating our faith in a post-Christian world, and replicating Christian worldview for all ages, which include certificate programs and further education for the many pastors needing assistance on how to minister in this cultural moment.
Opportunities exist to further educate clergy and ministry leaders outside of Prestonwood with resources to solidify their apologetics/biblical worldview, augment seminary educational gaps, and encourage the pastors to stay in the fight—specifically, mentor the pastor team in apologetic training and technique.