Are you new to Apologetics?
Here are three things every Christian should do with the apologetics information they learn from conferences, podcasts, books and other training resources. In my presentations and workshops, I like to call these the three essential elements of everyday apologetics.
1. Find answers for yourself
First, know that Apologetics is for you. It helps you, as a Christian, discover that there are good answers to the hard questions. No need to lose any sleep at night wrestling ideas like “Do I really have to let go of my reason just so I can have faith?” Or “Do I need to chuck the faith so I can be reasonable?” Apologetics helps you understand the answers to tough questions about Christianity.
2. Share those answers with others
But it’s not just for you. We need to give good answers to people who are asking the tough questions about Christianity. Peter said, we should be ready to share reasons with anyone who asks us about the hope that we have in Jesus. But we’ve got to do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
3. Be a wise representative of Jesus
Part of this is being a good listener. Think about it. If we want people to listen to our ideas, we’ve got to be willing to listen to theirs. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Even just asking a question like, “What do you mean by that?” really gets a good conversation going.
If your friend says something like, “It’s stupid to believe in God.” Ask, “What do you mean by God?” Because if you find out your friend thinks it’s stupid to believe there’s a super-old guy with a big white beard who’s sitting up on a cloud, granting wishes, well…you can see where they’re coming from.
Also asking questions like, “What’s your thinking on that?” can also help your friend consider what he believes and why he or she believes it, too. Two great books on asking good questions are Tactics by Greg Koukl, and Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman.
But another part of this is making our answers memorable. Apologetics involves all kinds of other disciplines. We can use theory, evidence and arguments from things like history, science, philosophy and even communication. Interestingly, we typically forget 50% of what we’ve heard—immediately after someone finishes talking to us. But it gets worse. 8 hours later, we’re down to just 20%. What makes up that 20%?
It’s the examples: Stories, illustrations, objects or pictures you can see in your head. These are things that tend to stick. Incidentally, the number one book I recommend on this topic isn’t an apologetics book at all. It’s a book by Chip and Dan Heath, called Made to Stick.
Think of these examples like business cards you leave behind with the people you talk to. When they come across your card, they’ll remember you. In kind of the same way, when your friend remembers the example you used, they’ll probably remember your point. Jesus actually used a number of really vivid examples:
- The camel going through the eye of a needle
- The lamp under the bushel
- The story of the Good Samaritan
By the way, the number one Christian apologetics book I recommend on this subject is a book by J.P. Moreland and Tim Muelhoff called The God Conversation. It’s not enough just to have good answers for ourselves. Let’s share good reasons to believe in way that’s simple to get and easy to remember.