Friday, October 01, 2010

How to Get Apologetics in Your Church: Apologetics Movie Night

Apologetics Movie Night
by Nathan Harmony

Apologetics was the means by which God solidified my faith in Christ. I grew up in a Christian home, and in my early twenties I started having questions that caused me to doubt my faith in Christianity. My school teachers and my friends presented me with numerous reasons not to believe in Christianity, but never once had I been exposed to a solid case in favor of it. I eventually gave up on the hope that good answers were out there.  Yet, I did not like the thought of giving up on Christianity all together.  I didn’t know very much at the time, but I understood that letting go of my faith in God involved letting go of my ultimate foundation for meaning, purpose, values, duty, and hope in this life. Yet, at the same time, I wanted to be intellectually honest with myself and be willing to follow the evidence.  Neither my parents nor my church had very satisfying answers for me, and so I struggled with these questions for years. [MP3 | RSS | iTunes | Table of Contents]

Finally one day, by the grace and providence of God, I stumbled upon some apologetics websites, which led me to more and more apologetics material.  I was never much of a reader, so I bought all the videos that I could find.  The material presented in these videos completely destroyed my strongholds and demolished every argument that exalted itself against my knowledge of God.  It was extremely helpful, and I can’t begin to explain how valuable it was for me.  It helped to lay a solid foundation for a deep intellectually satisfying trust in the glorious Gospel of Christ.

Once I had access to solid resources, I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about apologetics, and I began to develop quite an arsenal of apologetics videos on just about every topic you could think of.  It got to the point where I knew way more about why I believed that the Bible was true than I did about the Bible itself. So to fix that problem, I decided to go to Bible College.  At Bible College, my church history teacher took me under his wing and discipled me.  He was very good at encouraging and empowering people to get involved in what they were gifted in and passionate about.  He recognized my love for apologetics and knew about all of the videos that I had accumulated over the years.  He came up with the idea of starting an apologetics video ministry and asked me to lead the group at his church.  It was a great experience for me.  I realized that it wasn’t very hard to do, and I didn’t need to be an expert in order to pull it off.  I ended up moving to a different campus of my school, and I put together another apologetics video ministry with the students at that campus. 

After Bible College I moved to Santa Barbara, CA, and a few years later I had made a number of friends who were fairly new believers.  They would often come to me with their questions, and every time I would tell them about a great video that I had on their particular issue, and that they needed to see it.  Eventually we set a day and time for them to come over every week and watch a video.  Since I have enough apologetics videos to watch one every week for several years, we decided to keep doing it.  We named it “Apologetics Movie Night.”

I eventually joined the world of Facebook and made a group page for it.  I started inviting people via Facebook, and what was once a little thing with my buddies has grown organically into a semi-formal ministry.  We have been meeting every week for over a year and a half now (since January 2009), and there’s a core group of about 15 people that attend.  The format is simple.  We pray, I introduce the main points of the video and why they are important to understand, we watch the video, then I reinforce the main points, and answer any questions that people have.  The cool thing about using videos is that I don't have to be an expert on a subject in order to be able to cover it.  I can bring the world’s greatest experts right into my living room.  Apologetics is such a vast field.  There is so much good material out there, and since people are constantly making more lectures and documentaries, I doubt that I will ever run out of new videos to watch.

One of my favorite Bible expositors recently moved to Santa Barbara, so my wife and I just started going to his church. The church that I used to attend doesn’t facilitate smaller specific-focus sub-ministries, but they did give the congregation their blessing to get together on our own if we wanted.  So, as of right now, Apologetics Movie Night is not officially part of any church, but the pastor who runs the evangelism ministry at my new church has mentioned that he would like to somehow incorporate it into their evangelism ministry (which is something I could use prayer for).  I recognize that it is important to be under the authority of and to be accountable to the leadership of the church, and that this ministry would greatly benefit from the wisdom, resources, momentum, and prayer support that comes from being under their authority.  The hard part is getting people to recognize the importance of an apologetics ministry.

If you want to make an impact with apologetics, the most important apologetic argument you will need to know how to make is the argument that apologetics is important for the church.  Apologetics is a vital task for the body of Christ.  God is glorified by it, the church is edified by it, and the kingdom of God is advanced by the means of it.  Unfortunately, however, many Christians just don’t see it that way.  If you endeavor to get an apologetics ministry started in your church, don’t be surprised if you encounter opposition to that idea.  This can be frustrating, especially if apologetics is something you are gifted in and are passionate about.  I think it’s important to understand why people tend to have an aversion toward it.

Here are seven reasons that I have come up with:

1.  It is common for Christians to mistakenly view faith as being something that substitutes for a lack of knowledge. This view of faith makes apologetics hostile to faith, because apologetics seeks to fill the very void that they think should be filled by faith. (2 Peter 1:5)

2.  Apologetics is primarily a project of the mind, and it is common for Christians to see it as something that distracts us from our primary objective, loving God with all of our heart.  They fail to recognize that the greatest commandment also involves loving God with all of our mind. (Matthew 22:37, John 4:23)

3.  Personality also plays a big role.  Apologists are often the kind of people who love to hash things out in debate.  It’s fun for them.  While other people have a real hard time with confrontation.  So when worldviews collide, and truth confronts error, it can be extremely uncomfortable for the non-confrontational personality, who just wants resolution.  Discussions about ultimate truth or religion have a tendency to be intense, technical, drawn out conversations, which often don’t end in resolution.  This is something they want nothing to do with. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

4.  Apologetics involves argumentation, and it is common for Christians to equivocate a rational dispute as being quarrelsome.  They fail to recognize that contending for the faith is both prescribed and described frequently in scripture. (Jude 3, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Acts 18:27-28, Acts 9:29, Titus 1:9-11)

5.  Unfortunately, Christian apologists can often be quarrelsome, and this makes people think that that is what apologetics is all about. (2 Timothy 2:24-27)

6.  Apologetics inspires confidence and it increases knowledge, this can easily translate into pride, which turns people off to apologetics. (1 Corinthians 8:1)

7.  Apologetics has been very much neglected, due to the fact that it has been grossly misunderstood.  When you demonstrate that apologetics is a practical necessity for the church and show that it is prescribed in scripture, this will at the same time expose an area of deficiency in the lives of many seasoned believers.  Some may feel threatened and oppose apologetics, because they don’t understand it, nor do they want to.  (Proverbs 9:8-9).

Despite any opposition you may encounter, make no mistake, there remains a great number of people who are interested in this kind of ministry!  It is vital that people have access to good answers, especially the younger generation, whose faith is constantly being assaulted.  The fact of the matter is that apologetics is simply about being loving enough to take other people’s questions seriously, and it is a basic fundamental feature of discipleship.  This kind of ministry is simply something that needs to exist.  If you have a few friends who are interested in apologetics, it’s not hard get your hands on some good material and get a group started.  I have been very blessed by hosting Apologetics Movie Night, and I know that the people who come every week have been too.

9 comments :

Tiffany said...

Hey, I really enjoyed this post and the whole series! I was wondering if you could provide any suggestions on where to find good "small-group-friendly" apologetics videos? Thanks!

pds said...

Hi Tiffany,

I've used:
http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2010/06/good-god-evil-world-by-paul-copan-mp3.html

http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2009/09/michael-licona-answering-bart-ehrman.html

AND these look good:

http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2009/09/william-lane-craig-q-videos-and-mp3s.html

These are good tasters to get viewers interested for discussion and then further study. Have some books to give away after if you can.

Cheers,

Paul

Nate said...

Thanks Tiffany! I’m glad you liked the post. I would love to help you out with a list of notable videos.

As for videos that would be small group friendly, the one that I would recommend more than any other is the TrueU series by Stephen Meyer called "Does God Exist?" This is a must see! It is well produced, and each lesson is broken up into half hour lessons. You can order it at Christian Book Distributors (CBD)

I would also recommend the video series "Defending Your Faith" by R.C. Sproul's. It is absolutely phenomenal! It is also well produced and broken up into half hour lessons. And you can order it at CBD

The John Ankerberg shows are all really good, and are also broken up into half hour lessons. (http://www.jashow.org/) but the one in particular you want to get it is called “Evidence for the Historical Jesus” by Gary Habermas. That was a good one! You can get it for half the price than you would at jashow.org if you go here:
http://impactapologetics.com/product.asp?P_ID=296&numRecordPosition=4&strPageHistory=cat&strKeywords=&strSearchCriteria=&PT_ID=316

Nate said...

Post continued (it was too long)...

If you know how to hook up your computer to your television, you can get a lot of stuff for free on youTube or Google videos. There is a particular set of youtube videos made by Doug Powell that are unbelievably good, and I cannot (for the life of me) find a place to buy them on dvd (if anyone out there knows, please tell me). You can find them here: http://www.youtube.com/user/musickle#g/u
Doug Powel has numerous short topical apologetics videos that use cute little pictures and diagrams to help illustrate his points. All of Powell's videos amount to about 4 and ½ hours of material, and they are some of the best videos out there! Note that his youtube page also has his music on it, so don’t confuse the music with the apologetics videos.

If you have netflix, surprisingly there are a number of really good apologetics documentaries available on there. Some of them are even available on the instant play.

Here is a list of good apologetics documentaries that are available on netflix:
-Unlocking the Mystery of Life (you absolutely need to see that one!)
-The Privileged Planet
-The Case for a Creator
-The Case for Christ
-The Case for Faith
-Prophecies of the Passion
-Lost Gospels or False Gospels?
-Did Jesus Really Rise From The Dead?
-Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
-Collision (debate documentary with Christopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson)

Here is a list of other topical documentaries that are really good but not available on netflix (almost all of these are on google video):
-Darwin’s Dilemma: The Cambrian Explosion (made by the same production company that made the other intelligent design videos which are available on netflix)
-The Case for Christ’s Resurrection
-Catholicism: Crisis of Faith
-The Lost Book of Abraham
-The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon
-DNA vs. The Book of Mormon.
-Jehovah’s Witnesses Exposed
-God’s of the New Age

Nate said...

post continued...

Another good lecture series is “Tactics in Defending The Faith” by Greg Koukl. It is also broken up into half hour lessons. This series is designed for small groups and the material is really important to understand. But it requires more effort, because you’ll have the print out a work book and practice the material beforehand. You can get this at www.str.org

Norman Geisler has an enormous amount of material on video. He has this massive collection of videos called “Seminary In A Box.” It contains unbelievably important material, however the lectures tend to be long, so you might have to split them in half if you show them in your small group. You can get it here: http://www.shop2.internationallegacy.org/SEMINARY_IN_A_BOX-details.aspx

Joseph Holden has an amazing lecture series called “An Introduction to Christian Apologetics.” He also has a great documentary called “Archeology and the Bible”
You can get them here: http://veritasseminary.com/edu/pages/ves-learning-resources.php
All of the resources on this site are great!

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has a super long series called “Foundations of Apologetics” and a lot of other amazing topical Ravi videos. You can find them here: http://www.ucbdirect.com.au/items/Movies/list.htm

William Lane Craig has an entire 30 hour lecture series called “Philosophy of Religion.” This one might be somewhat advanced, but it doesn’t hurt to be stretched a little. You can get it here: http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2010/02/dvd-series-philosophy-of-religion-with.html

I hope this helps you get something going, and it should be enough to keep it going for a while. Hosting an Apologetics Movie Night isn’t very hard at all, it’s well worth your time, and it’s a whole lot of fun!

God Bless you and your ministry!
Nathan Harmony

pds said...

Great posts Nathan!

Tiffany said...

Nathan, thank you so much! Just reading your 3-post-long list of resources has gotten me beyond excited about bringing some of these things to my own small group!

Nate said...

You're welcome Tiffany, I'm excited that you are able to use some of this material!!

I forgot to mention all of Charlie Campbell's videos at http://www.alwaysbeready.com/ He's got a video on just about every topic worth making a video about and his material is presented in a way that easy to assimilate and use.

It's exciting to see the fruit from this essay series. :)

Dalecsc said...

Great idea. How are things going 1/12/2014? I am confused about who wrote the article. Who started the Movie night idea. I have some ideas to talk to you about. I have two son who are pastors. Would love to hear from you.
Dale Cangelosi
828-489-7461

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to comment. By posting your comment you are agreeing to the comment policy.

Blog Archive

Amz