Lighting a Path for a Church Apologetics Ministry
by James Patrick Holding
One of the most satisfying aspects of apologetics ministry is hearing from people who ask permission to use ministry material to begin an apologetics teaching program in their own church. In these times when the Christian faith is increasingly under attack at all levels and discernment is scarce, sponsoring some sort of apologetics ministry at your home church can become an essential first line of defense for your friends, family, and neighbors. Sadly, not all churches have an interest in supporting apologetics ministry, and others, though willing to provide moral and prayerful support, may not be able to provide financial support for more extensive ministry projects. However, even under the most stringent circumstances, there is a great deal that can be done to assist your fellow church members in defense of their faith.
Lay the Foundation: Initially, you may have to explain to your fellow church members—or perhaps even pastoral staff!—what apologetics is, and provide a sound biblical basis for its practice. Most apologists cite passages at 1 Peter 3:15, Jude 3, and 2 Corinthians 10:5 for evidence of the practice of apologetics in the apostolic church. It is also helpful to note that early evangelism was based on the presentation of fact, and that potential converts were called to repentance based on the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ and the evidence of both His miracles and His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (see, e.g., Peter’s speech in Acts 2).1
Once a biblical basis for apologetics is established, the specific need for such ministry within your church and/or community should be demonstrated. An appeal on this basis can be made from both a positive and a negative perspective. From a negative perspective, church members and pastors can be awakened to the need for apologetics via awareness of crisis statistics indicating serious reductions in church membership and in professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
While there have been numerous analyses with varying theories concerning the cause of these defections from practicing faith, it is clear that whatever approach to this problem a church implements would need to incorporate apologetics as part of the antidote. As the noted apologist John Warwick Montgomery has observed, “The 21st century Apologist…needs to incorporate Apologetics into every aspect of his or her ministry: every sermon, every class, every evangelistic activity. We have woefully neglected our responsibility to train our young people in the solid case for Christianity, and then we wonder why they depart from the faith under the influence of secular university instruction.”2 Having excellent, solid reasons to believe the Christian faith is fundamental to maintaining a healthy worldview that is consistent with our observations and experience…
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RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It by James K. Beilby
Most introductions to apologetics begin with the "how to" of defending the faith, diving right into the major apologetic arguments and the body of evidence. For those who want a more foundational look at this contested theological discipline, this book examines Christian apologetics in its nature, history, approaches, objections and practice. What is apologetics? How has apologetics developed? What are the basic apologetic approaches? Why should we practice apologetics? Countless Christians today are seeking a responsible way to defend and commend their faith. If you are one them, Thinking About Christian Apologetics is the place to start!
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