Apologetics & Student Ministry
Apologetics is commonly mistaken as training in how to debate theological issues.
Apologetics is better defined as the branch of Christian theology that seeks to provide rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims. There is opposition one might come across when asking people about the importance of apologetics. One of the most popular arguments against apologetics is that “no one comes to Christ through argument.” This argument is myopic however because apologetics is not about arguing. It is important that we remember to remain humble, relational, and invitational in our apologetics. The Bible calls us in 1 Peter 3:15 to “…be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
So, what is the significance of apologetics in youth ministry? I feel like the biggest boost it brings is that it helps our teens have confidence in their evangelism efforts. The need for evangelism in our world is undoubtedly an increasing need of the upmost importance. One of Jesus’ first calls to his disciples was to evangelize. In Matthew 4:19, He tells them, “Come follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.” This is a charge, straight from Jesus! So what is stopping us? I believe that if you asked many people it is fear! Fear of rejection, fear of striking out, fear of not being able to answer the “tough questions.”
This is not a problem found solely with Christian teens, I feel like this is the main concern of every Christian from youth ministry to senior adults. So what is the answer to ridding ourselves of this fear? Apologetics! In William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith he says “apologetics training is a tremendous boost to evangelism, for nothing inspires confidence and boldness more than knowing that one has good reasons for what one believes and good answers to the typical questions and objections that the unbeliever may raise.”
For whatever reason, apologetics is highly neglected in the area of youth ministry. We see kids leaving their high school youth ministries, entering college, and leaving the church. Their faith is being attacked on college campuses nationwide by liberal professors. But the truth is that teens are facing this opposition at a progressively younger and younger age. It’s no longer a problem they will first experience once they arrive at a college campus. It is not enough to only teach Bible stories. Our students need doctrine and apologetics. They need to be trained for war.