I don\’t know how accurate that stat is, but it sounds about right. Whether it’s 80% or 8%, we should be alarmed that any kids leave the church after being nurtured by it for so long. Are the parents responsible? Is it the church’s job to ensure that the love for the church is so deep that they are compelled to continue the journey even after they are free to choose not to? Do we need to raise expectations for Bible knowledge? While I think the answer to these questions might be yes, I feel that there is one key ingredient that the church and parents often fail to add to a kid’s life.
I’ve spoken to dozens of college students and singles over the years who have left the church. These are adults who truly knew what they believed. They could even quote scripture better than most pastors I know. What you believe is very important. However, what’s also important is being able to defend what you believe.
There is a mindset in the church that apologetics is an adult topic. Some think that it’s a cerebral approach that kids can learn when they\’re ready, perhaps when they\’re old enough. In light of the fact that even young kids are being faced now with issues of gender, a multi-religious culture, post-modern/no-truth academia, and a general anti-Christian bias that is arising, it is critical that we equip our kids to defend their faith.
Who was Jesus? How can we know that he was who he claimed to be? Why should we believe that the Bible is God’s Word and that it is our flawless manual for life? My teenager needs to be able to answer these questions. My tweener needs to be able to defend his faith. My 10-year-old son needs to be able to jump into the conversation as well. He\’ll be facing the challenge a lot sooner that we can imagine and in a much more aggressive arena of thought.
Our kids are old enough to learn apologetics as soon as they make the decision to follow Jesus. Jesus has saved us. He gives us hope. We need to be able to convince others of these truths.
I have a deep issue with the statement “We need to be able to convince others of these truths.” Our jobs as Christians are to live a life that exemplifies the truth of what Jesus in our lives does. We are to be a living testimony to Jesus, our argument as it where should be in our walk. I can give a child all the head knowledge in the world, but if it’s not lived in the lifestyle it’s worthless. The idea that we as Christians can “convince others” of the truth of Jesus is wrong. We live it, we preach it, but ONLY God can change a man’s heart, and if we lead our children to believe that they have the power to defend and argue Jesus, then it’s no surprise after THEY fail, they give up and walk away.
I can only say that I would go back to what the scripture says. This is not about lifestyle. You are right on that topic. Our walk is the evidence. However, apologetics imply that a challenge has taken place. Paul is talking about defending our faith, not Jesus. The question is, Is that directive aimed at educated adults?
By definition, and, in light of scripture, we are to be prepared to respond. I want my kids to love on their unchurched friends. That’s one aspect of our faith. The impact that will have is profound. That’s when God might choose to move in their hearts based on our love. (John 13:34-35) That identifies us as followers of Christ. I think that’s where you’re going.
It will actually “honor the Messiah as Lord,” when are ready to take on the assault that has become a regular part of our now-secular culture. And to clarify, I stated that our role, as stated in scripture, is to convince others of “these truths,” not to convince them to follow Jesus. That, as you stated, is up to God.
Our defense is found in the verse thats quoted as asking us to defend why we live our lifestyle. It plainly says to give credit where it’s due. Point them at Jesus not try to get in a verbal debate with someone. This idea that we have to train to win an argument leaves off the rest of this verse. I find it very interesting that you choose the only translation to actually leave with “gentleness and respect” off of this verse. Granted it is in the next verse in the HCSB, but every Bible that I have has it listed in the same verse. Can you really engage in an argue with someone with meekness?
This verse, this passage is not about arguing for God, it simply is telling us to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have, and that hope is none other then Jesus, and His name is the only statement that is needed to explain your hope. Do you not know that even the demons shutter at His name?
I am sorry that you pull this verse out of context and use it as a reason to arm yourself with knowledge to be able to win an argument. This obviously from reading what Peter is saying here is not his intent. This idea that we should be ready to engage in verbal combat, to be able to convince others that Jesus was really the Messiah is not mirroring Christ. In fact it’s the very mentality that Peter was rebuked for having when he pulled his sword to defend Christ. Jesus demonstrated in His life to show love. Jesus decided to engage in conversation about who He was, and allow others the opportunity to come to Him freely.
I often wonder about people that we try and “convince” to make a decision for Christ. Do you really believe that you are that good, that they made a sincere decision for Christ based on your logical presentation of facts, and dates? That seems extremely prideful to me to be able to think that “I” was able to save someone, because I was SO SMART.
I thank you for your piece, and I believe that it is important, and fascinating to study apologetics. I believe that through the study of apologetics that we will come to value the amazement that is God, but this is not meant to be used to try and persuade others. Thats the Spirits job, and He has been doing it very well much longer then I have been alive, and if it’s God’s will He will be doing it long after I am gone.
This is the passage of Scripture that immediately came to mind as I read these comments. Pay particular attention to verse 28. Note how it says it in the KJV as well: “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
I’ll let the Word of God speak for itself and let you draw your own conclusion on what you think Paul is doing here…
(Seems pretty clear to me)
Acts 26 – New International Version
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 “The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”
32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”