Coaching Apologetics: Do a New Thing! by: Karen Harper

One of the things I love about the Lord is that He does not change. He’s the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is constant, stable, reliable. He does not change like shifting shadows. And though He does not change, He is always doing something new.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
~ Isaiah 43:19

I know He is always doing new things in me. And part of the reason He’s doing new things in me is because I’m growing, maturing in Christ, and He knows I am ready for Him to do new things in me and through me.

As a club leader, perhaps you’ve been considering doing something different with your Apologetics coaching. Your program is growing and maturing and it’s time to try something new. Or maybe, you want to begin something new in your club… like getting some Apologetics coaching going for the first time! If so, there’s good news for you… you can do a new thing! Now is the time for it to spring up… do you not perceive it?

Think Outside the Box… and Don’t Apologize for It!

I’d like to briefly share three ways our club has chosen to do new things with our Apologetics coaching over the past several years. We decided to think outside the box, get creative and craft new (but do-able) approaches that were both beneficial for competition, and practical and impactful for our students beyond their season in Speech and Debate.

1.The Apologetics Card Project

​In 2017, our club coaching team became convicted that as important as it was for our students to be effective and winsome Apologetics communicators, it was most important that they effectively communicate biblical truth. It’s not enough to just speak well, we must speak truth.

So, we decided to spend time during the 20 weeks of our club year reviewing every one of the 105 Apologetics questions/topics. I developed one card for each question, which included: a) a simple, but doctrinally sound answer to the question; b) a “More Truth” section that listed multiple Bible verses for the student to read so they could develop a more comprehensive understanding of what God’s Word has to say on the topic; and c) an “Other Resources” section that listed books, commentaries, video clips, podcasts, etc., that a student could use to further research the topic.

During each club meeting, we reviewed 5 cards at a time with our students- all of them, not just the apol competitors – and we discussed the foundational truth or primary doctrine that needed to be understood to effectively communicate a biblical defense. It was a great season of deepening our faith together and wrestling with some of the mysterious truths of the Bible.

2. Encourage a Biblical Worldview

As we prepared to enter the 2018 season, our coaching team met again and decided to try another new thing… emphasizing to our students the importance of filtering all of our thoughts and communications through a biblical worldview lens. This developed over the course of the year, moving from a teaching approach to more of a group discussion.

Both students and parents enjoyed this time so much, our leadership decided to continue this emphasis, but try another new thing this year (2019).

We developed a Biblical Worldview Case Study sheet. Culturally relevant topics were chosen at the beginning of the season, and a case study scenario was created for each topic.

The case study sheet is given out to the students one club meeting in advance, giving them time to think, pray and discuss the topics with their families before the next meeting. The questions on the sheet are discussed as a group before the club meeting begins (this time is optional, but every club member attends!). After the scenario is discussed, an activity is presented that helps our students to practically apply what they’ve learned to their lives.

We have found that our students are becoming more critical thinkers as the year progresses, and they are challenging each other to think about life and truth through a biblical worldview. Not only is this impacting the Apologetics competitors in our club, but it’s benefitting every student as they develop the speeches they will be giving this season.

3. Launch an Apol Club

This year (2019) we are doing another new thing… we created an Apol Club. During our regular club meeting, students who have been competing for 3 or more years meet together for 45 minutes in the youth “hang-out” room in the church. It’s super casual and fun… some sit in beanbags on the floor, snacks are brought in, someone suggests a jazz, classical or Christian music playlist that I launch on my phone. And we work on Apologetics cards.

A few students discuss a topic in one corner, several students work individually on a card, I move around the room listening, challenging and coaching. It’s a wonderful time to think, to sharpen each other, and to bond as a group. The students look forward to this time together, and so do I.

As we move toward the end of this year and look forward to the beginning of a new one, perhaps you’ll consider doing a new thing with Apologetics? Pray and ask the Lord what good work He wants to do in your club and in your students through Apologetics. His heart beats for these young people. His eyes are roaming to and fro throughout the earth looking to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). And it’s His sure desire that His people be prepared in season and out to give an answer for the hope that they have (I Peter 3:15).

​Behold, says the Lord, behold, I am doing a new thing!

My dear friend, Karen (affectionately known to me as Sally) has been coaching Apologetics for her Speech Club, Truth Advocates, for a number of years. She blesses her family and community outside Louisville, KY.