The Rise And Relevancy Of Apologetics In Youth Ministry

The Rise And Relevancy Of Apologetics In Youth Ministry


by Alex McFarland

In 1933 G. K. Chesterton observed that while it is important to win the lost to Christianity, leaders must increasingly endeavor to "convert the Christians to Christianity." Chesterton's remark was a timeless reminder that the church must be ever dedicated in its duty to pass on biblical truth to upcoming generations.

Because more belief systems than ever are competing for the attention of teens, I believe that it is vital for churches to incorporate apologetics and worldview content into their youth ministries. "Worldview" refers to
what we believe. "Apologetics" is all about why we believe the things we believe. Students today need to learn about both.

The Greek word for apologetics
appears several times in the Bible. Usually translated as "answer" and "reason," apologia is an ancient legal term meaning "a defense." Categories of Christian apologetics include the following: (1) Textual apologetics - defending the trustworthiness of the Bible, then presenting the content of what it says; (2) Evidence-based apologetics - presenting external data that provides objective confirmation of the Christian faith (such as historical or scientific facts); and (3) Philosophical apologetics - exposing the flawed reasoning behind popular arguments against Christianity.

 

In my experience, several key issues are essentials when making a list of apologetics topics for teens. Youth should be equipped to biblically process such questions as Is there absolute truth? Does God exist? Is the Bible trustworthy? Was Jesus authentic? Why does God allow pain and suffering in the world?

 

Many authors (myself included) have written about the faith challenges present on university campuses. But years before college comes along, teens are pondering how Christianity stacks up against competing beliefs. Statements like, "You've-got-your-truth-and-I've-got-mine," or "Jesus was just one of many great spiritual leaders" have become axiomatic in our culture. Youth must be equipped to understand why they believe the claims of Christianity rather than those of some other belief system.

Why shouldn't we resign ourselves to the absence of truth suggested by post-modernism? Why not just embrace the atheism insisted upon by books like Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion? The answer is multifaceted. But Christianity is to be believed and followed because it is true.In a world of sincerely held opinions, Christianity comes to us via historical, yet personally relevant, fact.

 

A recent video on You Tube showed some footage from Africa in which a baby water buffalo was rescued from the mouths of three hungry lions. The people whose camcorder captured this could be heard cheering as one adult water buffalo courageously fought off the lions. The video reminded me that within the world are predators, prey, and protectors. Teens needs to be preemptively equipped for the intellectual questions and spiritual challenges that inevitably come. Apologetics content helps by demonstrating that Christianity is credible, reasonable, and relevant.

 

Some youth leaders shy away from teaching apologetics assuming that teens won't get it or that it is a pursuit for just the super intelligent. To such sentiments, I respectfully object! For twenty years now I have witnessed teens of every state and economic strata react to apologetics content with enthusiasm and appreciation. What is really cool is when they share how they used apologetics in reaching out to their friends.

 

I am also encouraged by the knowledge that one of the most well-known verses related to apologetics was written by the apostle Peter. First Peter 3:15 - quoted by apologists everywhere - was penned not by Paul the theologian and philosopher, but by plainspoken Peter, the fisherman. More than ever before, we must rise to the challenge of his words and equip a generation to "always be ready."

 

 

Alex McFarland serves as Director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics, North Greenville University. He is the daily host of Exploring the Word, a nationally syndicated radio program heard on the American Family Radio Network. Alex earned an M.A. in Christian Thought/Apologetics from Liberty University, and is the author of 10 books. He has been involved in youth ministry since 1989.