Apologetics is a big, scary word. When I tell people my Masters is in Apologetics, they answer, “What is that?” So I go on to define it as the defense of the Christian faith as I watch their eyes glaze over, and their body language tell me they are shutting down–Apathy.
What I’m finding in our culture is that the need for apologetics is even greater than before, since we live in a culture where truth is now based on feelings rather than facts. When a lawyer asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life, Jesus answered in Luke 10:27, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind…Yet people don’t see the need for apologetics. I think one of the biggest reasons is because people have a false sense of security about their beliefs and that of their children. Many believe, “I’m a Christian, and my kids have been raised in Sunday school or youth group, so we’re good!” Here’s the problem with that: unless one has been challenged in theological conversations with others about the Christian faith, they will not realize that they don’t even know why they are Christians, and nor do their children. If one doesn’t know why they adhere to a faith, how solid do you think one’s faith will be as soon as it is challenged? 1 Peter 3:15 tells us we need to always be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks us for the hope that is in us. That is why every Christian needs apologetics. With the direction that the statistics are moving with our youth, I’m going to focus on them here.
Put A Life Jacket On Your Child
Have you ever been white water rafting? I have. It’s an exhilarating experience. My first time was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The scenery and smells were wonderful. We were with our family and good friends and it was calm and pleasant most of the way. One would never know what was ahead….and then it came….we hit “Lunch Counter. “ What a ride!! Class 4 or 5 rapids that day. We were well prepared. We had the right clothing and the right gear. I would not have wanted to do that without a life jacket!!
Some parents think that raising kids is like floating down a river. All seems to be going well. They’re paddling through life thinking they have it all figured out. Their kids are healthy, getting good grades, excelling at sports, going to church—what more could they need? What they don’t realize is that the rapids are just around the corner—college. Seventy to eighty percent of young adults between the ages of 18-29 will disconnect from the church after high school. Why? Because they had questions that were not answered to their intellectual satisfaction and/or, they did not see the relevancy of God in their lives. More so today, they have a hard time reconciling the existence of God with the problem of evil. This is a well-known fact among Christian researchers, such as the Barna group. However, there are consequences to one’s disengagement from God and the church. As a result of a departure from the church, they may make moral decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.
It is for this reason that parents need to prepare their kids for the college years or just the post-high school years. There will be skeptics that will get in their faces and ask them questions they have never heard before, challenging their faith. Unsurprisingly, they’ll return home after the first or second semester declaring, “Mom and dad, I don’t believe in God anymore.” What’s worse is that some of their “challengers” will be their own professors, since sixty percent of secular university professors are atheists. Here’s the irony; parents send their kids to college to learn about truths. Those same professors will be the ones telling your kids, “There is no truth,” and parents are paying for that!
Put A Life-Jacket On Yourself
Parents, this is where you come in. Your kids need you, and they need you now.
We must be pro-active in our kid’s theological education. The stories you read your kids about Noah’s ark and Jonah and the great fish aren’t going to cut it when your kid walks onto a college campus. You need to provide yourself and your kids with the right gear. It’s not enough to know about Biblical truths. You must know about the lies that stand against those truths, and prepare yourselves and your kids to refute them. Parents, as you learn these arguments, your own faith will be strengthened, because you also will be learning that there are excellent reasons to adhere to the Christian faith.
One way to learn about the lies that stand against the Christian faith is to read. There are so many great apologetics books and blogs on the internet now, that it would be hard not to find one.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
The Poached Egg is a great website that specifically posts apologetics blogs from various bloggers. You can find them at http://thepoachedegg.net.
My good friend and fellow Biola MA Apologetics grad, Lisa Quintana blogs at http://thinkdivinely.com.
Another Biola friend of mine, Ryan Pauly, blogs at http://coffeehousequestions.com.
One more book I highly recommend, is Meet Gen Z by James Emery White. You won’t believe the statistics in that one. What an eye-opener.
Brett Kunkle, an apologist and speaker formerly with Stand to Reason, now has his own ministry geared specifically toward youth, called Maven. You can find Brett at http://maventruth.com. He also wrote a terrific and very relevant book called A Practical Guide to Culture.
Natasha Crain also wrote two books for parents to teach their kids and is working on her third. Her first one is, Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations To Help Then Build A Lasting Faith. Her second book is Talking With Your Kid about God: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent MUST HAVE. Both of these are excellent tools to help prepare your children for the coming rapids..
There are so many good books on apologetics. For other great books on Apologetics, please visit my website at http://straighttalkwithclaudiak.com, and click on the book list tab to see other recommended books.
Biola University’s Apologetics department has conferences all over the country teaching apologetics. They are fantastic! They are taught by well-known professors in the department (and some graduate students like me!) in a way that is practical for everyone.
Stand To Reason—the radio ministry founded by Greg Koukl, also has a fantastic youth conference every year in California and Alabama. It’s called Re-Think. The top apologists are brought in to talk to kids, in a way that is relatable and fun for the kids. Listen to Greg Koukl’s show to hear details of coming conferences.
Listen to Podcasts
I’m a big podcast listener. I don’t have time to listen to a radio show regularly, so I download podcasts. Some very good Apologetic podcasts are: Cross-Examined with Frank Turek, Stand to Reason with Greg Koukl, Cold-Case Christianity with Jim Warner Wallace, Coffee House Questions with Ryan Pauly, and Alisa Childers at alisachilders.com or search iTunes for Alisa Childers.
Make the Time
No one can do anything well without being properly trained. I know all of the above takes time. I’m an empty-nester mom now, but I remember how hectic those years were when my boys were home. There was school, homework, hockey practice, haircut appointments, youth group…. It’s a zoo, no doubt. But ask yourself this question, what’s more important? Your kids performance on the field, in the rink, on the mat, or your child’s eternity? If they are not prepared when they get to college, they will tumble over those rapids with no life-jacket and that would be any parents worst nightmare. We can’t leave it up to the youth group. Churches have good intentions, but they may not be adequately preparing your kids either. God has entrusted our children to us. Their theological training is our responsibility. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when your kids or you yourself will be challenged—if not in college, then in the work place, and out in the real world. Maybe it’s already happening.
The rapids are do-able, and much more enjoyable when we are prepared. Nobody has to drown in a river of skeptics. Apologetics keeps us afloat in treacherous waters. Prepare yourself and your kids. You’ll never regret it.