Dr. Joseph McRae Mellichamp is Emeritus Professor of Management Science in the Manderson Graduate School of Business at the University of Alabama and National Faculty Representative for Christian Leadership Ministries. For 25 years, Dr. Mellichamp combined successful academic pursuits with effective Christian ministry activities.
When you consider how many universities and colleges there are in the U.S. alone and how we desire to have Christian faculty/staff ministries on most of them, you begin to get an idea of the enormous audience there is for talks on a variety of interesting themes. To be having the kind of impact we’d like to be having in the university, we would need to have hundreds of Christian professors and staff speaking every week on campuses around the country and around the world. Unfortunately, at the present time, there are only a very few who have seized upon this ministry opportunity. But when you consider the incredible impact these few are having, you wonder why more people don’t begin to consider these options.
Walter Bradley has given his talk, "Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God" on scores of campuses to thousands of students, professors, and others -- usually to standing-room only crowds. Phil Johnson made a whirlwind tour last year to more than 25 campuses in this country and in Western Europe, speaking on the issues he raised in his book Reason in the Balance. Many of his appearances were sponsored by academic departments in the universities he visited. If Fritz Schaefer hasn’t matched Walter Bradley with his talk "Stephen Hawking, God and the Big Bang" in terms of number of presentations and total audience, he can’t be too far behind.
What is my point? Many professors and staff could be contributing in this important aspect of the battle for the university. Many of you have a research specialization or an intellectual interest in an area that would be of interest to others in academe. You just need to develop it into a presentation and start giving it. I remember when Walter first started developing his materials in the scientific evidence area. I sat in on an afternoon seminar he held in the Durrell Center at Colorado State University when he presented an early version of the talk. He has expanded the material over the years; he has added some good visuals; he has many more references and quotes. He started small at Texas A&M and gradually the opportunity grew. Ditto for Fritz Schaefer. We had him at Alabama on one of his first speaking jaunts. His talk has evolved, but it happened in progress as he traveled around and shared what he had.
One of the most frustrating things for me as we have traveled to dozens of universities and colleges is to hear someone say, "I’ve been meaning to put together a ‘How to Make Better Grades’ talk or I’ve thought about doing a position paper in my discipline and developing that into a talk, but I just haven’t gotten around to it." We aren’t going to win this thing with only a few in the fray! We need help. We need your help. I met a physics professor the other day at the University of North Texas, who has a goal of cranking out one apologetic talk each year and presenting his results as opportunities arise. As Howard Hendricks, a popular Christian speaker, says, "May his tribe increase!" If we could increase the number of individuals willing and prepared to minister in this way by an order of magnitude, we would still be way behind in terms of meeting the need.
If defending the faith against an angry mob in a public forum is not your idea of what the Lord has called you to, no problem. We need apologetic speakers, but we also need other kinds of speakers. We would like to see several hundred professors and staff members doing "How to Make Better Grades and Have More Fun" talks and "Time Management" talks. We would like to see professors doing position papers and talks. We just need talks, period. Can you help us? Start where you are with a topic on which you have some expertise. Develop a talk and start giving it on your own campus. Then look around for opportunities to take it on the road.
© Copyright 1997, Joseph McRae Mellichamp
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