Hey, there, everyone! So, @CarsonWeitnauer posted a topic a little while back ago talking about how to lead an apologetics class at your local church. But what if you are seeking to introduce apologetics to your pastor and/or church for the first time or even the first time in a while? I have been asked about this more than a couple of times now because of my own recent experience with this, so perhaps it would be good to discuss it here. I think that an important place to start in deciding how to approach the subject with a pastor or church congregation is, of course, Scripture–1 Peter 3:15 specifically–but aside from that, what do you think are some good steps we can take to prepare for that conversation?
I would present the Barna study about the main reasons young people are leaving the church @psalm151ls
Thanks Brian. I haven’t heard of this but I’ll be looking into it!
I think one of the most important things to consider in this conversation is our own agenda. Is it a humble one, designed to serve the Lord, and the leadership of our church, or is it a self-promotional one, designed to use the church for our own advancement?
One way to test our hearts on this is to start with listening. Do you know the priorities of your pastors? What do they care about? What are they praying for? What goals are they pursuing? How are they seeking to lead the church?
Only once you understand their perspective, then you can being to pray about how apologetics could be a means of helping the church move forward.
@brianlalor, this is some really great food for thought. It’s funny you bring this up, because young Christians have been on my heart a lot lately! I have added this to my list of resources!
@CarsonWeitnauer, thanks so much for your input. It’s really insightful and puts others’ interests in front of our own.
One thought that I had was that a presentation, though it should include good research, should also be a response. I think that mindset of answering the questioner–not just a question–can be used and carried into an initial conversation about apologetics with a pastor or congregation. Even if we have found that an apologetics study/program seems to fit right in with how the leadership is directing the church, the pastor and/or congregation may have reservations about bringing apologetics into the church because of the abuses of apologetics or because of misunderstandings of both apologetics and the Christian faith. I’ve mentioned before in other threads that my pastor was not fond of the idea of apologetics being brought into the church because “people have used it to beat others over the head.” Unfortunately, this isn’t a claim lacking in truth. I found an article written by ‘Bible Answer Man’ Hank Hanegraaff that I think is helpful in outlining some of the reasons for objections to apologetics: https://www.oneplace.com/ministries/bible-answer-man/read/articles/why-apologetics-has-a-bad-name-by-sean-mcdowell-16957.html
Before I was able to give any statistics or research done that pointed to the need for apologetics in our churches, my task after those mentioned by @CarsonWeitnauer was to ask my pastor what he thought about apologetics and why. Bringing up apologetics as a tool/discipline to use without checking for and responding sensitively to concerns and reservations about it can be a conversation stopper. Though I had anticipated some of my pastor’s response and the questions behind his response, some I hadn’t. It was most important for me to actively listen to him (meaning reflecting back what we think the other person is saying in our own words, along with asking questions, to check our understanding) so that I could understand where he was coming from. At that point, I was able to respond to him in a way which made him feel respected, heard, and also helped him to feel I cared about his concerns and was working to address them. I wasn’t just trying to steamroll him or be pushy with what I thought would be good for the church. This, in turn, opened the way for a presentation of some research, of the great approach RZIM takes to apologetics, and of my hopes for how apologetics could be of service to building up and equipping our congregation members which would, in turn, help the church move forward in the direction in which the leadership was/is wanting to take it.
Lastly, I have to say that ultimately, it is God who opens and closes the doors of opportunity. Sometimes God closes those doors, because He either wants to lead us into something else or it just isn’t His timing. Even Paul experienced this in Acts 16:7: “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (New International Version). I think it is important to be able to recognize when the Lord is closing a door and to be obedient, trusting fully in Him and His leading.
Thanks for this reference Brian. I am very interested in reading it.
Thanks for your input on this Carson. I agree wholeheartedly.
Thanks @psalm151ls for broaching this topic. This has been on my heart as well. I agree as Carson mentioned that we first need to be aware of our own motives and then really listen with an open heart to what our pastors have to say. I would venture to say that these shepherds know their congregations better than we ever could and that they also have a heart that is burdened for the gobal church as well as those who have yet to meet our Lord.
I am fortunate to serve in a church where apologetics is incorporated into the Youth and Young Adult Ministries. We have been able to introduce the youth to apologetics through events like REBOOT and our youth pastor has even spoken on it a few times.
The kids LOVE it! They have so many questions! Given the positive attitude towards apologetics in the Youth and Young adults Ministries, I know that it is sanctioned by the senior and executive pastors as well.
In the spring, I met with our executive pastor to discuss the possibility of running the Everyday Questions curriculum for anyone interested in learning more about engaging others of different worldviews. He seemed impressed by the curriculum (I provided him with a hard copy as I had previously purchased it for my small group which is not under the umbrella of my local church). He suggested coming back to him once I had given it a “dry run” with my small group and we would look at the possibility of offering it through the church.
I think that starting with a curriculum like Everyday Questions might be a good way of introducing people to evangelism undergirded by apologetics. I know that my response is not directly related to your original questions, but I thought I would share my experience here as it seemd closely related to the topic. I’d love any feedback you might have.
Wow that describes my journey with faith very well. I feel like because I grew up going to church every time the doors were open and even on days in between that my through my early teenage years my faith was fabricated and insulated from any question or doubt. My faith was like a bubble and it popped the moment I was asked the hard questions and that door opened. When my mother passed away I completely lost it.