How useful are apologetics ministries in the local church?

(Joe Gregory) #1

Is there a need to have an apologetics ministry in the local church? Obviously there is a need for apologetics within the Church as a whole. But one of the main objections I hear, particularly by some in church leadership, to having it’s own ministry within the local church is the abundance of resources currently out there. Given all the apologetics books and websites that are easily accessible, the idea is that it makes no sense to dedicate limited church resources to an actual ministry. Honestly, I do see merit in this but am curious as to your thoughts.

How effective can an apologetics ministry be in the local church given what’s already out there? Are there more effective ways to advance apologetics in a church? Are there good examples of this?

(SeanO) #2

@jobobear My personal experience has been that while there is an abundance of resources, that does not mean that people will actively pursue them unless that meeting is facilitated. So, while I am not sure a Church needs to start its own apologetics ministry, I see great value in having classes or teachings on apologetics woven into the life of the Church using material produced by other ministries such as RZIM. That takes the burden off of Church leaders to come up with all of the material themselves, but also gives the congregation a chance to engage these materials under the guidance of their local Church leaders.

Also, I think if the Church has these types of events it lets people know it is safe to ask these types of questions and that there are answers out there…

For example, the ‘Everyday Questions’ curriculum could be useful as a platform for use within the local Church. No burden on leaders because there is already a leader / participant workbook.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #3

Hello Joe (@jobobear). I do agree with @SeanO. In my personal experience as well, even if there’s an abundance of resources in the internet age, people don’t actively pursue them. Questions which I am asked could be searched easily on the internet. Some are scared in a sense that they are not sure if the article or book they are reading is credible. In addition, some people are so busy that they don’t have time on their own to check out these resources.

So for me, an apologetics ministry in the local church is needed. Fears about whether a resource is good or not will be lessened, because church leaders whom they trust can help facilitate the meeting for them. Aside from that, the particular needs of the local church will be answered. Some articles that we read may address a particular concern for a Western culture, which may not be something which a particular Southeast Asian culture may be struggling with. So having this ministry in the local church can help us see how different cultures can benefit from a particular apologetic concern. People who don’t have the time to check the resources, but have the time to go to these gathering at church can benefit immensely. They can use their learnings immediately when they go to their particular type of work.

A local church apologetics ministry can help people see apologetics being practiced on a grassroots level. We have experience of people seeing apologetics merely as what Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig does, that you go around universities and give a knockout answer to a question (so they see apologetics as something which is not for them). But apologetics could be life-on-life as well, which is messy and may take time, which we do daily as we share our views with our non-believer friends. I’ve been encouraged by students who share with me how they defend the faith in their own words to other skeptics, and how it made them bold in sharing the gospel and in discipling others.

So yes, I do see a need for it. A particular local church is situated on a particular community which has a particular narrative with particular needs. Even people who attend the church have their own particular narrative and needs as well. Having an apologetics ministry for a local church can help people on that local church reach out to their community by addressing the personal objections of those people, and also disciple people in the area for the glory of God. This can help in the development of future leaders in the church as well, which will benefit the local church further. The oversight of the pastors and leaders in this particular ministry can help as well in making sure sound doctrine is protected as people seek to grow in the life of the mind. At least these are some things that come to mind when I think about it.

(LaTricia) #4

@jobobear the irony is that every pastor/elder/leader is called to be apologists by way of their position within in the church and every lay person is also called to be apologists. While we may not all be at the same level as the itinerants of RZIM for instance, we are all essentially apologists.

Yet, the other irony is that the vast majority of the church body doesn’t understand apologetics, what it means or how to carry out the duty of apologist. Having classes in a church teaches people how to go about the task, helps prepare them for some of the obstacles they will face, and helps to build up confidence in this ‘divine task’.

Many church leaders view apologetics as arguing - literally, and see it in a very negative light. But, the one who helped lead me to Christ is an apologist and so it’s been a part of my walk from the very beginning until now. The church that I attend now encourages me in this area, there may even be a future opportunity to do a class (!!!). I see apologetics and evangelism as something that goes hand in hand, but from my experience many churches focus on evangelism and leave apologetics behind. I think that teaching people would help with that and help strengthen the local church, not just for future believers but also for current believers. Current believers need apologetics just as much as those who’ve never heard the gospel or had tough questions answered. Apologetics helps believers, in my opinion, have a proper understanding/view of God and doctrine.

(Ron) #5

I think teaching apologetics in the church is an absolute necessity. I was raised in the church, a volunteer youth leader for 30 years, organized Christian music festivals, concerts, etc. for 12 years.
About 10 years ago, one of my four children read Bart Ehrman’s book “Misquoting Jesus”. He began asking me questions in ref. to the book. I am extremely embarrassed to say that I could not answer most of his questions in ref. to the book, when it came to defending God’s word. I have been making up for lost time studying to be ready for these type of opportunities. But the opportunity with my son had been lost.
All that to say, even if churches did something as having a type of “apologetics moment” during the service, it seems that it would be helpful. Just give one fact during an allotted time each Sunday. I will take any prayers given for my son :slight_smile:

(Joe Gregory) #6

Thank you all for the very insightful comments. So it sounds like that if a local church were to have such a ministry, it may be most effective to act as a support for the pastoral staff to help train the congregation, especially on the local issues that face them.

(LaTricia) #7

@jobobear, not only the pastoral staff, but any church leader and it should be in place in a way that anyone in the church is able to access it and/or be directly influenced by it.