General Ministry
Josh Griffin

I want to make a case for why you need to make Christian apologetics a priority in your ministry. It will cost you something but I believe the pay off is worth it. You might have to give up that self-depreciating story that takes up twenty minutes but makes everyone like you afterwards. You might have to cut your games time in half to beef up your teaching time. You might have to pick up a book instead of a slurpee.

But your kids will hopefully thank you later. They will know what they believe and they will know how to defend it.

The prophet Isaiah laments about his culture in a verse that speaks to us today, “Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey” (Is. 59:15). Christianity has always had its critics; Jesus promised it would be that way (John 20:21). As our culture increasingly secularizes, we as pastors must prepare our students for the imminent attack to the Christian faith. We believers must be able to give a rational defense for the validity of the truth of Christianity. This defense has commonly been given the word “apologetics,” as it is taken from the Greek word apologia, meaning “the act of making a defense.” This word is used several times in the New Testament, but its usage in two passages is particularly relevant. In Philippians 1:7 &16, apologia refers to a defense of the gospel, and in 1 Peter 3:15 it refers to a defense of the Christian hope.[1]

Apologetics therefore can mean a student’s ability to defend a truth when confronted with an attack in scenarios such as a university classroom or while watching Discovery Channel or an antagonistic YouTube video like the popular documentary, Zeitgeist. Thankfully, the bold yet false assertions can be argued against rationally and such is the call of the Christian apologist. Apologetics need not only be about defending against attack but it can also be about giving a reason for Christian belief in a more proactive, persuasive explanation of the faith.[2]

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When I tell people that we work hard and prioritize both elements of Christian apologetics in youth ministry today, I will sometimes encounter critics who assert, wrongly, that apologetics has no place in the postmodern worldview. They argue that it is outdated, rooted in modernity and unnecessary “because apologetics never changed anyone.” (I think they mean anyone other than C.S. Lewis, Francis Collins, Anthony Flew, the author of this article and many more).

When students come with their doubts and questions (and they do) it would be a great leadership failure to tell them, “I’m sorry, you don’t really need to know the answer to that because you are postmodern. What you really need is a hug, a piece of pizza and some good community.” Instead we are to know the truth, teach the truth and help them, “give a defense for the hope that is within them” (1 Peter 3:15).

Contrary to what we might have read, the modern mindset is still valuable in our world today. I am thankful to the airplane pilot who still believes in the rigid, modernistic laws of aviation. I am thankful for the doctor who works hard to learn the proper brain and heart surgery to help those who are sick. I am also thankful for the Christian who labour to refute our culture’s bias towards relativism, pluralism and can refute Christianity’s many opponents with the truth.

Jesus told a lawyer that part of the greatest commandment was to love God with all your mind (Matt. 22:36). Let’s love God with our minds by valuing truth enough to pursue it and wrestle to find it.

[1] Justin Holcomb. “Apologetics On Mission.” http://theresurgence.com/2011/06/02/apologetics-on-mission Accessed June 5, 2011.

[2] Examples such as explaining the circumstantial evidence affirming the validity of the resurrection. Great research has been done by N.T. Wright and Gary Habermas.

For the past four years, Jon has served at Coquitlam Alliance Church just outside of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. Jon is the young adults pastor in a ministry called Ethos. Check out his blog at http://jonmorrison.ca

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  • Andy Lawrenson says:

    I’m currently working through The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity by Alex McFarland with our high school students. I did another apologetic series last school year. Hoping to work one each year so when they leave for college they have an understanding of what they believe and why.

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