I asked members of the CAA and subgroups: “If you lead a youth group that successfully incorporates apologetics, I need to know as soon as possible. I want to brag about your success to other youth pastors who seek info. on this. I need to know your style, as well.”
This is what some of them answered—and this is just a small sampling of those who could have answered…I didn’t give them much advance notice!
[Note: At the end of this post you will find an invitation to do some Q&A with Brett Kunkle on how to equip youth!]
Mark S. Phillips I lead a new high school apologetics group, Maryann. We’re finishing our first half-year of existence. They seem really interested in what is presented; one student commented that all he ever learned in church was “Daniel in the lion’s den and Noah’s big old ark.” The students I have don’t know much in the way of doctrine, but they seem to be more interested in knowing they can use their brains in the faith. My main focus to-date has been the resurrection. But because the kids I have all seem to have grown up in church, I have taken time to present video testimonies of atheists who converted to Christianity and why they did so. They really enjoy the videos from exploreGod.com and also the Case for Christ. I’ve covered a bit on logical fallacies, arguments for the existence of God, understanding a world view that includes metaphysics, helping them to know they don’t have to be intimidated when someone challenges their worldview, and the exclusivity of Christ. Hope this helps.
Christophe A. Du-Pond G. Been teaching apologetics to Young Adults in Spanish for over a year. Home Setting. Average 15-20. Houston Texas. Popular Books like Tactics and “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” work well as a start.
Sam Dallas Yes, I have made apologetics a “systemic” part of my youth ministry for several years now, which means I incorporate it at various levels and not merely as an optional “bonus” facet of the ministry for those “core” kids (though I used to do it that way). Here is a rough sketch of my methodology:
-one of my programs deals exclusively with evangelism/missions training and engagement (and apologetics is included as a primary component).
-I teach all 11-12 graders in one class in our “Sunday School” setting, and I alternate between a year of Systematic Theology and a year Apologetics & Worldview.
-I am also the “Minister of Apologetics” at my church, so I teach a 12-15 week class each Winter/Spring to both students and adults.
-I lead a mission trip to Utah every year which involves both theological and apologetics training (especially in regards to the reliability of the Bible) in addition to training on Mormonism.
-I do various evangelistic outreaches, which often involve apologetics.
-I put my students through Atheist Role Plays (doing one in 2 weeks). And I expect them to do far better at this next one then when I’ve done atheist role plays for other youth groups who have virtually no exposure to apologetics (and it shows)!
Hope that helps!
Mark McGee I teach apologetics as part of our weekly martial arts program at church. Talk to youth groups around the city as have opportunity. Have done apologetics with youth and college/career groups in the past.
Yes, interactive for sure. The type of interactivity depends on the group and purpose. I like to address spiritual questions that bother young people. I use roleplaying if training young people to defend their viewpoint and help unbelievers understand Christianity. Have used PPT with larger groups, then have them work in small groups to address different issues and report their findings back to larger group, etc.
I took classes in the 70s to learn Francis Schaffer’s apologetics methods and still use some of them today. Some methodology is similar to Greg Koukl’s “Tactics.” I’ve used them with countless atheists, agnostics and other non-Christians and they’ve worked well in most situations.
Jonathan Topping I’m not the best example here, since I haven’t been the youth pastor, but I was a leader for about seven years, and I helped incorporate a little bit of apologetics into the youth group. One thing we did, is that the youth pastor had a group of older high school students that he was mentoring. Every now and then he would have times where they could ask whatever questions they wanted. These would be both emotional and intellectual questions. He brought me in to help him during those times.
A second way is that the youth pastor allowed me to speak on a few occasions on different apologetic issues, in order to help equip the students.
I would argue that it’s not as though he/she needs to change the focus of the entire youth group to apologetics. All the pastor needs to do is have someone who specializes in apologetics help out by teaching every now and then.
As for the success of it, the students loved the few times I spoke, and it led to them asking further questions. I’ve also been told about a few times they were able to evangelize because of it. Additionally, these apologetic moments led to an apologetics Bible study. I still have some of the old students (now in college) coming to me every now and then with more questions. So I would argue that getting a little apologetics in the youth group could really help spark an interest in theology and evangelism.
Elijiah Thompson Well, I don’t lead it as in… me being the youth pastor. But I did lead a 15 week apologetics lesson, and I taught on the minimal facts approach to the resurrection last week.
My teaching style is very much interactive, and that’s incredibly important for teens. They don’t like to be taught at, they like to be engaged with.
When I went through the 15 week apologetics thing, I made my own curriculum where a large portion of it was my preparation beforehand… by relying on my knowledge base. I used Columbo-style questions to have them answer what I was asking them, and I took their answers and wrote them on a bunch of poster board that I put up all over the youth room.
I used a combination of direct teaching from me (usually to lay a foundation for the rest of the lesson), video, conversation, memes (the helpful kind), funny stories and interactive teaching by asking questions.
It was super cool too because many of the teens actually wanted to stop playing games *early* because they wanted more time to learn about what I was teaching.
Stop games… EARLY. To learn.
My lessons were almost 45 minutes long in some cases.
One of the best things you can do is promote an environment of freedom in questioning. I didn’t want people to think that they were the only ones asking a specific question, so I went out of my way to tell personal stories that made myself vulnerable to them, so they could open up to me.
Last Sunday, I started off by asking how many of them were there for my apologetics thing almost 2 years ago. Half of them raised their hand. They remembered 5 minimal facts.
– Jesus lived
– Jesus was crucified
– Jesus was buried in some dude’s tomb
– The tomb was empty
– Christianity began
This was from almost 2 years ago. I don’t think the teens in my group are overly academic. Many of them are the sporty type. Teaching apologetics and having them retain the information is largely a cultural thing; a way to make the culture of your youth group able to embrace apologetics.
Marcia Montenegro I don’t teach apologetics per se but have spoken to numerous youth groups to inform them and help them respond to New Age and occult beliefs we see in the culture. I usually use an outline – sometimes one with blanks they have to fill in — and give them lots of examples. I also like it interactive and give time for questions.
Mike Johnson Aside from the ‘CSI’ themed apologetics study I put together for teens (http://ow.ly/vVWa1), we’ve taken our high school youth thru Demolishing Strongholds, a video series by Answers In Genesis, and most of them found that engaging. What we do now on a monthly basis is an ‘Ask Anything’ night where kids can ask (some like to ask anonymously) any question related to God, Bible, religion, life, and the others leaders and I try to answer. The kids really look forward to it, and it ends up always centering around great worldview and defense of faith discussions, which of course the leaders can steer it in an apologetic direction. You’d be surprised how much high schoolers ponder the problem of evil.
Robert-Alicia Lawrence Banah de Cristo Contact Christian Cordova…he has done the BEST job I have ever seen in turning his former youth group into Theologians and Apologists….(sorry for putting your name out there Christian but you have a LOT to share on this topic!) love ya man.
Christian Cordova There’s a lot to say about my experience but I will sum it up with this:
I lead a youth group for seven years and it was a blessing to serve God through these kids. God caught my heart with apologetics and reason, so I taught what I knew. I went through several big topics like Systematic Theology, an overview of each book of the Bible, World religions, Curriculums like AIG, materials from STR (str.org) & J Warner Wallace (pleaseconvinceme.com) and one of my favorites, philosophy & fallacies (fallacydetective.com).
I taught them not only why we believe what we believe, but also how to share their faith in a reasonable way that will leave an impression on others. All this, along with very interactive and entertaining presentations (it helped a lot to be a Graphic Designer), showed them that Christianity is more that wishful thinking like the world portrays it; but above all with the Holy Spirit opening their minds and hearts (this implies a lot of prayer) they were able to face their circle of influences with boldness and represent Christ as great ambassadors, being the salt and the light that we are called to be.
Sarah Ankenman Just that they love it and really appreciate it when you explain to them that you love them and want to prepare them for life. Treat them like adults because they are smarter than we think!
Sam Welbaum Out of the youth group that I ran at my current church for six years, I’ve seen more youth stay faithful than leave the faith. I think that is in large part due to the manner in which they bought into understanding what they believe and playing in the deep end of apologetics/theology. When I took over the group was seven years old and they were all ready to leave and barely any took their walk seriously. The first lesson I taught them was on hell, finishing the last leader’s series, and I just went as deep as possible.
We followed that with series on love, then worship and after a year of leading, on Christianity and Culture. At that time they were all dialed in. I introduced ideas like zeitgeist, hermeneutics and drove home the fact that we become what we worship, ideas have consequences, and we need to be in the world not of it.
During the church history series we spent one week each on the ecumenical councils and explained why the views condemned are heretical and therefore ought be fled.
As to my approach…I basically won them over with humor and creativity in games, employed interns to spend time and get to know them, hold them accountable…and that opened the door for me to go as deep as I wanted once they trusted and liked me. Then that is when we got to see their spiritual lives take off because they now had confidence in what they claimed to believe.
It was so good to hear feedback from those who are actually on the ground, working to equip our children! I gave them such short notice that we haven’t yet heard from Jason Wisdom or Jacob Allee, both of which have the privilege of teaching kids apologetics. Maybe they will bless us with their methods in the comments?
We recently started a CAA subgroup, Apologetics for Parents, which will be attending our first event together as a group that you are welcome to join:
You’re Invited! APRIL 24, 7-8pm Pacific online: How to Equip Your Kids (Brett Kunkle Q&A). We get to ask Brett questions about teaching our kids apologetics!
Brett is the Student Impact Director at Stand to Reason. He is passionate about seeing students and adults “transformed by the renewing of their minds.” Brett has more than 18 years of experience working with junior high, high school, and college students. He spent 11 of those years as a pastor to students and young adults at Chino Valley Community Church in Southern California and Creekside Church in Colorado. Check out his Bulletproof podcast, “equipping parents, youth leaders, and educators to train a new generation of young people to stand for the truth of Christianity.”
Do you teach your kids or youth group apologetics? What works best?