Apologetics and the zoo aren’t words typically heard together, but David Evans (Th.M. ’12, Ph.D. ’16) former Evangelism Team Leader for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and now pastor of Springfield Baptist Church, Springfield, Tenn., knew they went hand-in-hand.
“Why not do apologetics in the place where we need to be apologetic, in a place that has no church presence?” Evans asked.
Evans became pastor at Springfield Baptist last year, but while at the state office he organized several apologetic events on science and creation at the Nashville Zoo and Nashville’s Adventure Science Center, a science museum for children. At each, the event drew visitors from the public.
For Evans, evangelism and apologetics are crucial to every role in life he fills whether it is as a state convention leader, pastor, or father. They are part of who he is.
“I try to share my faith daily,” Evans explained. “If I miss today, then I do two tomorrow.”
While organizing the apologetics and science events, Evans surprised the venue’s scientists—many of them atheists—when he approached them to rent their meeting space. Evans took the opportunity to explain his faith.
“I have Jesus in my heart and He tells me to come here,” Evans said he explained to the scientists. “Jesus went to some very tough places for me. The least I can do is go to places where I think He wants to be known.” Evans would then add, “And, He loves you.”
For Evans, science is a familiar field.
At age 16, Evans entered college in a pre-med major. Though raised by faithful Christian parents, Evans was, in college, a “practicing Christian, but ideologically an atheist,” he explained.
Evans’ journey towards a saving faith began in organic chemistry class when the element carbon captured his imagination.
“Carbon, the building block of life, has simplicity and complexity, all at the same time,” Evans said. “I was blown away by the intelligence that this little element had knit around it. Carbon was definitely a ‘road flare’ that got my attention.”
As the father of two children, Evans tells his children that the Gospel can answer their questions now as well as later on as they grow and their questions become “bigger.”
When Evans’ daughter, at age seven, asked “Who created God?” Evans answered in a way a seven-year-old could understand. But, Evans went further and gave his daughter a more complete answer than she was yet able to understand. He explained to her why.
“It’s important for Daddy to teach you that once you outgrow the first answer, there’s a bigger answer waiting,” Evans told his daughter. Each year as she comes back with “bigger” questions, Evans provides her “bigger answers,” he explained.
While Evans enjoyed his state convention role and providing churches evangelistic and apologetic training, God made it clear he was called to pastor, Evans explained.
“Once called to be a pastor, always called to be a pastor,” Evans said.
Leading a congregation to growth and maturity while encouraging them to disciple their children is central in Evans’ ministry. In his Ph.D. research and writing, Evans found that children most likely stay faithful to Christ when the parents’ marriage is healthy and when parents live out a vibrant faith in service.
While at the convention office, Evans wrote a booklet “Evangelistic Inches” that leads believers by “inches,” or specific steps, from zero evangelistic activity to sharing the Gospel to making disciples. The piece borrows from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi’s quote that “Inches make champions.”
Believers can share their faith when they are equipped and growing in Christ, Evans emphasized.
“Excitement’s not trite,” Evans said. “When you get blown away by God’s glory and how awesome He is, you can’t help but start talking about it.”
Note: This was published in the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s online publication Current, July 9, 2020.