Do Apologetics!! By: Emalyn Sharp

As is usually the case with me, it wasn’t my idea to compete in Apologetics. It was one of those things that I was cool observing from a distance but didn’t want to participate in myself. My mother had other ideas though and decided that it would ‘be good for me.’ Oh, how I hated those words. It was only my second year in Speech and Debate and I was absolutely terrified. Apologetics sounded complicated and scary. Apologetics was going to be miserable, and I was going to make a fool of myself…

Turns out, my mother is a very wise woman. Not only was Apologetics extremely good for me, but it quickly became my favorite category to compete in. It wasn’t stressful for me like the other speeches I competed were, because ultimately, I wasn’t doing it to be competitive. I was doing it to grow and learn. In fact, the first time I broke in it, I turned to my friends and asked “Wait, was this Apol? How did that happen?”

I firmly believe everyone should compete in Apologetics. It is the single most beneficial thing that I ever did in Speech and Debate, and where I saw the most impact on my life.

What I loved about it wasn’t the success, although I was blessed to do very well in it over the years. It was the way that I saw God working in my life through Apol. The bottom line isn’t that Apologetics is teaching you to talk about your faith. While it does that, I think the more important thing that it does is force you to figure out what YOU believe. I mean, think about it, I f you don’t know what you believe, you will never be able to convince others to believe it too. Apologetics forced me to analyze questions that I had either not thought about, or written off for a variety of reasons.

Was I completely prepared for competition in Apologetics by the first tournament (Or really, for the season)? Absolutely not. Did I die? Far from it. I grew leaps and bounds despite being underprepared.

I think the biggest misconception about Apologetics is that you have to have a complete box of apologetics cards to compete.

You really don’t.

Should you? Eventually.

In time, you should go through all of the questions, determined why you believe what you believe about it, and fleshed it out with scriptural truth and analysis. But you don’t need that to start competing. Even if you have NOTHING right now, you could still compete in the first tournament of the season and be alright.

If you have one or two card sets and a basic understanding of what you believe, you can survive almost any of the questions, with the exception of the NCFCA “category two” questions which require evidence. You have likely heard about many of these questions before, especially if you’ve grown up in the church. It’s not like impromptu, where you could be asked to analyze a random phrase about symphonies and change; all of the questions will relate to biblical concepts that you have heard or even memorized before. And even if you don’t do well competitively and give a horrible speech, you will have been prompted to think about why it matters to YOU.

The first card set that I ever made was about the Grace of God. I don’t think I ever drew that topic in the three years that I competed in Apologetics, but I used that card set at least twice a tournament, if not more. You will find the “core sets” that keep you alive, and they’ll look a little bit different for each person, but if you know that you have the back-up set and the knowledge inside of you, it greatly relieves the tension. Plus, even if you give a thirty second speech that consists of stating the topic, twelve ‘um’s and a super simple answer, you are still practicing to share what you believe. I didn’t realize how important this was to me!

Previously, I had shied away from having deep conversations with people, because I didn’t feel like I knew enough, or that I wanted to get into it. Now, I really enjoy having discussions about the purpose of man and inherent sin. I’ve had multiple opportunities at school to talk to people, both believers and non-believers, about Jesus, and having thought of the answers to their questions beforehand has been worlds of relief in those scenarios. Instead of being freaked out or unsure, I know the answer now, because I’ve made a card set for it. Do I use my card set in real life? No, not really. But by having made and practiced with it by giving speeches in competition I had another way of hiding the word of God in my heart. It gave me a reason to do further research that I may have neglected to do otherwise.

If for no other reason, compete in Apologetics for personal growth. You will learn so much about what you believe, and more importantly, WHY you believe it. You will learn to be familiar and comfortable talking about important concepts with people, and you will likely make some great memories while doing it.

Has Emalyn convince you, you need to try Apologetics? Sign up for her Jump Start Apologetics Workshop Dec. 29 and Jan. 12. Learn the skills she used in competition and beyond. For more information and to sign up, click HERE.