In college I fell in love with apologetics. My mind was opened to the intellectual credibility that the Christian faith has, and I was blown away. Yet the ability to communicate these truths takes time. All Christians are called to be ready to give and answer for the hope they have (1 Peter 3:15), so here are seven tips I can offer to improve your apologetic prowess.
- Read Your Bible Daily – There is no substitute for knowing and loving God’s Word. The more you are in it the more you will be changed by it and be able to use it in real life situations. Remember that apologetics is about communicating God’s truth, not our own ideas, so get to know what He has said! God’s Word is able to penetrate the heart of every conversation, remember Heb. 4:12.
- Find Good Resources – A quick google search will bring up tons of options, but note, I said “good” resources. Not all resources are equal. Some are solid, some are shaky. Always be on the lookout for the Who, What, When, Where, and Why behind the resources you find. You will find that you gravitate to theologically like-minded authors. As you get a feel for the apologetic pulse, start collecting books, articles, and resources for ease of access. Start your own library of trusted resources. This will feed your growth immensely. Don’t be a fool on your own, seek good advise it says in Prov. 12:15.
- Ask God for Opportunities and Wisdom – Warning: If you really ask, be prepared for action. God tells us to ask Him, and He promises to answer. Ask, seek and knock. (Matt. 7:7) Ask for whatever you want in Jesus Name. (John 15:7) Ask for wisdom from the God who gives freely. (James 1:5) Begin asking God to give you opportunities to share His truth and then keep your eyes open…its just a matter of time.
- Anticipate Responses – I am not a good chess player, but I have great respect for those who are. The real characteristic of a quality chess player is the ability to think several moves ahead. As believers we should do the same. How helpful would it be to have pre-prepare responses to common retorts like, “that may be true for you, but not for me…” or “the Bible is just a book of myth and legend…” or “I trust in the facts of science, not faith in religion”. Do you know there are very good answers for these statements and more? Do your homework and take a cue from the chess player, “think several moves ahead”. Be innocent but shrewd, as in Matt 10:16.
- Keep Your Attitude in Check – A good rule of thumb I read in Greg Koukl’s book Tactics is “if anyone in the discussion gets angry, you lose.” If you are getting angry, you are bullying or intimating them, not engaging them. If they are angry, they are probably defensive too. When emotionally defending their own ideas they are in a poor position to honestly deal with new ideas. Therefore keep yourself in check and guide all conversations to be as cordial as possible. If offense is taken, make sure it is because of the ideas, not because of you personally. Why do we do this? Read 2 Tim. 2:24-25.
- Practice with Your Friends – This can be helpful because of the low stress environment. To have a Christian friend role-play with you can sharpen your skills. Or, to be more bold, ask a non-believing friend if they can help you sharpen your belief system. In a non-confrontational way you can walk through the core tenants of your faith as they offer real life insight to their worldview. Asking for their help to practice communicating with clarity and brevity could be mutually beneficial. (Acts 4:20)
- Teach others about Apologetics – Nothing helps me understand a topic better personally than preparing to teach it to others. Offer to teach a sunday night study at your church on apologetics. Facilitate a small group book study through one of the many resources you are collecting in your apologetics library (see point 2). Disciple a teenager or college student on challenges they may face in coming years that you wished someone would have guided you through. As you teach you will become a true student of apologetics. (Titus 2:7-8)