Why Apologists Need to “Lower the Bar”

by Sean McDowell

There is a lot of talk about how we need to raise the bar in parenting, youth ministry, education and so on. This idea is that to create change we need to “raise the bar” of expectations. In other words, if we want people to believe and live differently, we need to demand more of them.

While there is time to raise the bar, there is an area where I believe we need to lower the bar—in apologetics. Let me explain.

Guitar Playing and Apologetics

Learning to play a guitar can take months and even years. Many people give up because they encounter the level of commitment required to play well. Since the bar of learning to play is considerably high, more people have given up learning guitar than are actually playing it.

Yet the game Rocksmith was designed to make learning the guitar as easy as possible. Compared to traditional methods, Rocksmith is arguably the most effective and fastest way to learn to play the guitar. According to Nicholas Bonardi, the lead designer for Rocksmith:

“We wanted to take out all the hurdles to learning to play. So, we made it so that when you plug in your guitar, there is sound. That sound is going to be the sound that should be on the album. Because when you’re playing something correctly with the correct sound it actually sounds like it does on the album. Our first goal is to get someone to play anything at all from the song they’ve chosen. We just need them to play the smallest, simplest notes. Something so that we can get them participating immediately, on the lowest level.”[1]

In other words, the success of Rocksmith is largely due to their “lowering the bar” of expectation so people would simply get started and then offering an easier path to success.

Lowering the Bar in Apologetics

How does this relate to our task as apologists? In my experience, sometimes we unnecessarily raise the bar of expectations, and as a result, unwittingly discourage people from learning the art and science of defending the faith.

For instance, a few years ago I spoke at an apologetics conference at a local church…


Why Apologists Need to “Lower the Bar” – Sean McDowell