By Jason Burnett
So, you are convinced to teach apologetics but don’t know where to start?
In my last blog I shared the necessity of incorporating apologetics into student ministry. I would like to say thank you to those who responded to that blog and for those who reached out to inquire about the next steps to take in beginning to teach apologetics.
Where Do You Start?
I understand the feeling of not knowing where to start. I wrestled with that question myself a few years ago as I was thinking through the necessity of apologetics in my ministry. Those were tough days because I did not know of anyone who was teaching apologetics to their students in my area, so I just jumped in. Needless to say, I was in way over my head. The upside about apologetics is that there are only so many questions to be asked and answered, but, to the beginner, it can seem like climbing Mt. Everest. So, here are two principles to help you get started.
1. You Need to Get Equipped Before You Begin Equipping
Paul tells Timothy, “Do you best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15, ESV). This truth seems obvious. However, there is a temptation today to just buy a pre-packaged teaching kit, throw on a video, do some discussion questions, and call it a day without extensive study. There are some serious problems with ignoring the Bible’s command to study and instead, taking a shortcut. First, it is in direct disobedience to the command of Scripture. Second, to be a good shepherd of your students, you need to have a working knowledge of apologetics, because they are looking to you for answers. If you are not ready for their questions, that will hurt your ministry to them. This doesn’t mean you have to know everything, but it does mean that you have a general knowledge so your students can have confidence in your understanding of apologetics and how it has gripped your heart. Third, pastors are to equip the saints (Eph 4:12) and the saints are to be prepared make a defense to anyone who asks them for a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Pet 3:15). If pastors do not study to equip them, giving them a defense for their faith, then laziness will lead to a lack of gospel proclamation. Much rides on getting equipped so that you then can equip others.
This raises a question: ‘How can you get equipped?” I would suggest the following books to get started:
- Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ
- Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter
- Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict
- William Lane Craig’s On Guard
- Norman Geisler and Frank Turek’s I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist
2. You Need to Learn Apologetics with Others
Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” The Bible is clear that growth comes in the context of Christian community. This will help you to understand the questions and answers, providing you accountability to think clearly about the issues. It would be best if you can do this with someone on your staff, in your church, or anyone who shares your passion for apologetics. You could walk through books together or meet up to discuss relevant questions pertaining to apologetics. If you can’t find someone to help you, don’t go it alone. Reach out to us here at The Hub, we would love to help you in any way we can!
Let’s say you have read a few books and have been meeting with a mentor. When should you start teaching? What should you teach? You should start when you and your mentor agree that you are comfortable and able to teach. What should you teach? There are probably many answers to this question, but my personal advice is to start by answering questions about Jesus. Questions like, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” “Is the New Testament witness about Jesus reliable?” “Is Jesus the Promised Messiah?” The reason I suggest this is because everyone must answer the question Jesus asked of his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15, ESV). This question is crucial! The answer to this question is the difference between eternal life and death.