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)
You are a work in progress. Isn’t comforting to know that God completes what He begins. You won’t be stranded or forgotten. You won’t be given up on or scrapped. God has a plan and is working it out piece by piece. In this video we see in stop motion photography the complete restoration of an engine. Impressive.
As Christians we have a long way to go. No one has arrived. But thankfully God does not stop a project once He has started. Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Maybe today you are getting torn down. Maybe you are being cleaned up and reassembled. Wherever you are, aren’t you glad He promises to keep working till the job is done?
Your fellow worker in the field, Adam
Youth Camp in my church has always been a very important event! Frankly, in my own experience as a youth pastor seeing what God has done in students’ lives at camp that led me to include youth camps as one of the key events of my annual calendar. In case you have not thought about this deeply for awhile, let me share my top four reasons for “pushing” camp with my students! As a youth minister camp is:
• THE BEST WAY TO INTRODUCE LOST STUDENTS TO CHRIST: Camps provide a unique 5-day “window” in which unsaved young people can be exposed to the claims of Christ! Think of it! Where else can I get that amount of time in that kind of spiritual environment to “show” an unsaved student what it is like to be part of the eternal family of Christ? They are surrounded by His love, His people, His Word! Hey, they come for the friends, the girls and the sports and recreation, but they could leave with the best friend of all, Jesus Christ!
• MY BEST SHOT AT STRENGTHENING CORE STUDENTS: Camps provide the best opportunity to deepen the spiritual walk of my “core students.” Teens are so distracted today with so many things tugging at their busy schedule! Camp is my best shot at getting their undistracted attention for at least a week! During camp, I spend time with my campers re-enforcing their love for Christ.
• MY BEST (if not only) HOPE OF BUILDING UNITY: Camps do wonders for the unity of my student group! Only mission trips exceed the bonding effect of camp, and it is usually more costly to get ALL my students to participate in a mission trip (plus the focus is on others’ needs, not our needs) so that leaves camp as my best opportunity to spend a week building the loyalty, togetherness, and focus of my ENTIRE youth group!
• MY BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO PREPARE MY STUDENTS FOR THE UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR:
Camps help me focus my students both on their commitment to Christ AND on our purpose as a youth group…to glorify Christ by reaching our unsaved friends at school. It is my best time for my group to regain focus before school begins again and we are back into the heavy school-year schedule with plays, sports, clubs, etc. It is my favorite time to ask, “Okay gang, where are we going this year? What do we want Christ to do among us?”
Adapted from Roger Glidewell at Global Youth Ministry.