Guest Post: Apologetics in Agency D3

The following post is written by Dr. Shane Garrison. Dr. Garrison has served as assistant professor of Educational Ministries in the Campbellsville University School of Theology for the past five years. He additionally serves as president and lead consultant of Maple Trail Ministry Consultants.

I can’t wait for LifeWay’s VBS Agency D3 – Discover Decide Defend.  This year is going to be unlike any previous year in that we encourage our kids to take a hard look at the truths of the Bible and then learn how to defend what they believe in an ever-changing world.

The pattern and sequence is intentional.  We start by helping kids DISCOVER the truths of Scripture.  Then we ask them to DECIDE if they really believe what the Bible says about God, Jesus, and the way to be saved.  If so, then we help them DEFEND these truths in a world that is hostile, even angry, at such beliefs.  Discover Decide Defend makes perfect sense to me.

I can assure you as a parent of two elementary-age kids, the Christian worldview is under intense attack in our schools, communities, and country as our culture becomes far more religiously pluralistic and secular.  Anybody, including our kids, who takes a stand for biblical convictions and truth are seen as intolerant and out of line.  Our culture has determined we Christians can hold to our faith privately, but should never proclaim that faith publicly.

This is the world our kids live in and will continue to live in as they grow older.  So giving our children the tools to discover, decide, and defend their beliefs is vitally important.

It might be asked, however, “How is this VBS evangelistic?  How does Agency D3 share the Gospel of Jesus with unbelieving children and students?”

The answer lies in the power of apologetics.  Apologetics is simply defending the faith.  It is being able to stand for what you believe in and clearly explain how your faith is not built upon shifting sand, but on the rock solid Word of God.  We must be able to defend the reality of Jesus and his death on the cross as the only means of salvation.  “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Apologetics is being able to say, “I believe this truth because…”  It is simply always being “ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)  And our kids desperately need this – both believing children and unbelieving children.

For believing children, being able to discover decide defend will help them shore up any questions or doubts they might be facing.  It will provide for them a stronger foundation to stand upon.

For unbelieving children, we get the opportunity to teach them the essential truths of the Bible that will hopefully lead them to believe, not in some fairy tale, myth, or legend, but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are showing (and hopefully proving) to these children that Jesus is real and He really died for their sin and if they really trust in Him, He will really save them.  Discover DECIDE Defend.

I believe apologetics is a powerful evangelistic tool.  One that has been in use by Christian pastors, teachers and leaders for more than 1000 years.

Apologetics 101

thomasThe day we announced our VBS 2014 theme, one well-known apologist tweeted: “FANTASTIC! 2014 VBS curriculum from @Lifeway focuses on apologetics for kids. Excellent!” Since then we’ve heard many of you express the same kind of excitement about this Bible content designed to help kids discover the truth about who Jesus is and defend their faith in a culture that is often hostile toward Christianity. But we also know that “apologetics” is an unfamiliar word to some. Consider this your crash course. Are you ready?

 

What is apologetics?
Simply put, apologetics is the defense of the faith. It comes from the Greek word apologia, which means “a reasoned defense.” Just like attorneys use evidence and reasoning to defend their clients in court, Christian apologists point to concrete evidence and give well-reasoned answers to defend the truth of Christianity.

The purpose of apologetics is not winning an argument. The purpose is to draw people into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, the cornerstone and foundation of our faith.

What about evangelism?
Apologetics goes hand-in-hand with evangelism. In fact, apologetics could even be described as pre–evangelism. For those who question the Christian faith, apologetics uses logical answers as springboards for sharing the gospel. Ours is not a blind faith; it is a faith firmly rooted in history and evidence.

Apologetics can also be described as post–evangelism. At some point, everyone will have his beliefs directly challenged, whether by a friend, teacher, family member, or the ever-pervasive media. When those “points of crisis” come along, we must be able to fall back on those foundational pillars of our faith and be assured not only of what we believe, but also why we believe it. Matthew 22:37 commands us to love God not only with our hearts and souls, but also with our minds.

Why are so many young people growing up and leaving their faith behind? It’s because the Christian community is failing to engage their minds as well as their hearts. As kids ministry leaders, we can give children a priceless gift by helping them to think biblically and to defend their faith before they leave our sphere of influence.

Can’t we hold off until they get to the youth group?
Let me answer this question with another question. Can we really afford to wait?

While teaching in VBS two summers ago, a kindergartner said to me, “My daddy says God isn’t real, so His Son isn’t real either.” What this 6-year-old was really saying was: “Tell me why what you’re saying is true.”

We must give kids reasons why Christianity is objectively true, why the Bible is God’s inspired and infallible Word, why we can know that Jesus was more than just a good man and that His resurrection is not a myth or elaborate hoax. If not, we risk losing our children and generations to follow.

As kids ministry leaders, we don’t have to have all the answers… and we don’t even have to pretend to. But we do need to be available to kids and help them work through their questions, doubts, and uncertainties honestly. This will become very important as they enter the teenage years and young adulthood… but it begins now. It begins in VBS. It begins with leaders who will not only help kids discover the truth, and introduce them to a Savior who died for them, and build a foundation for life-long faith in them, but who will show them by example how to live it out.

 

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