Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Get Apologetics in Your Church: How We Got Apologetics in Our Church

How We Got Apologetics in Our Church by Marcus McElhaney

The key to getting apologetics in a church is to capture the imagination of the congregation and to make it fun. Apologetics is tied inextricably to evangelism. If you can remind your congregation that Jesus commands us to evangelize the world, you can explain that we can use apologetics as a tool to doing just that. We can encourage people to talk to those of other faiths and worldviews but in order to do that you have to be able to articulate what you believe and why you believe it.
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Give your congregation the tools they will need to help them to carry out that mission. Teach people to use the internet, books, textual criticism, Biblical exegesis, logic, and most important - prayer. Teach them from the point of view that they may not be able to use all of these resources to engage the culture and the environment they find themselves in, but it is good to have these things in one’s tool belt.

Change does not come quickly or easily. Small changes should be done first, especially in congregations that aren’t used to apologetics in their services and sermons. Apologetics could start being incorporated into meetings that are already primarily teaching-based, like Sunday school and Bible Study. Lessons can be chosen and designed that expose people in the congregation to apologetics and thinking logically and rationally about their faith.

In our church we changed our Sunday school curriculum a little bit by bringing in how current events and historical events are related to the scriptures our lessons are based on. We also switched out the Sunday school lessons with Powerpoint presentations explaining how Islam is different than Christianity and why. We did a presentation on Jesus’ deity and the Trinity. Our church is small but growing, and typically we have about 5 adults in Sunday School.

It’s really not hard to prepare such sermons and lessons if you make them a part of your own study. For example, the lesson we did on the Deity of Jesus grew out of the presentation we did on Islam because denial of the Trinity is fundamental to Islam.

I usually lead the more apologetics-centered Sunday school lessons and my Pastor has taken it upon himself to use apologetics in our Bible Study.  He leads the class by asking questions designed to make us think. For example he asked the question “Is it okay for Christians to gamble?” Questions like these are great because it forces people to think about what they believe and the scriptural basis for holding that belief. Further, it asks us to think about how we live and how it impacts our witness to those who are non-Christian.

Another thing my Pastor has done that is really interesting is that he opens up Bible Study for anyone to ask any question they want. You are free to ask about anything you have heard or have been studying. Many times the questions are apologetic in nature. For example, “Is it okay for a person to be angry with God?”  When everyone is satisfied, we usually move on to something Pastor had prepared. This format works for us and we typically have about 9 or 10 Adults.

One important thing to keep in mind that is that your church can engage in apologetics ministries without a lot of money or a large congregation.  You don’t need to spend a great deal of money on new audio/video equipment.  You can project Powerpoint presentations on a wall if you don’t have a screen.  Computers and projectors are reasonably priced these days. If your church does not have a projector, you can connect your computer to a television or computer monitor.

You can also take advantage of the latest software and technology to share apologetic information. For example Brian Auten’s Apologetics 315 blog is an awesome resource for finding books, debates, lectures, and Powerpoint presentations that you can use to teach apologetics and equip your congregation. Many people today have Twitter and Facebook. There are a lot of members from my church on Facebook. You can share a lot of information and lessons right on Facebook. YouTube videos could be made out of sermons and classes and posted on the web and in blogs for everyone in the world to see them. In addition, most people today have smart phones and they can be used to get apologetics in the palm of people’s hands. For example, your congregation could be encouraged to subscribe to the Apologetics 315 podcasts and Alpha and Omega Ministries podcast. There are many, many good ones.

The most important thing you can do is pray and expect God to open doors and opportunities to share apologetics with your church and for your church to share with the community.


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