Experience Apologetics for Growth and Challenges

Almost every competitor we talk to, talks about Apologetics in a way that expresses their gratitude for being challenged, as well as the growth they have seen in their walk with Christ and knowledge of Apologetics. Really? Can participating in Apologetics, whether it be through a speech and debate competition or a class, cause a deeper relationship with Christ to develop? We asked a few of our Lasting Impact! competitor interns the question, “What was the most challenging thing in Apologetics through which God caused you to grow?” Our interns are seasoned competitors of Apologetics- having four or more years experience.

Remember- you can still sign up for our Apologetics Workshop, Dec. 15. And Online Apol. 2nd Semester is right around the corner! We would love to have you join us!!

“What was the most challenging thing in Apologetics through which God caused you to grow?”

Intern #1 –
When I first began competing, I had no clue as to the categories I wanted to participate in–that is, except for Apologetics. Now, I’m definitely not a natural improviser (I tried Impromptu the year I did Juniors and quickly realized I was not exactly “gifted” in the area!), but all I knew at the time was that the entire process intrigued me. So I threw myself into it and began to write as many cards as I could leading up to the first few tournaments.

I quickly began to realize that competition certainly wasn’t easy and I messed up very often, but through His grace, God always gave me the peace to carry on as well as the determination to take full advantage of the resources HE placed in front of me. I knew I wanted to grow in my faith but I also had a strong desire to compete well. Unfortunately, there was one misconception that seriously held me back. Instead of seeking the Lord’s wisdom in what HE wanted me to communicate, I began to write my cards with the question, how can I best win my judges over? Our God certainly has a humorous way of bringing our focus back to Him.

A few months later, I went to the biggest qualifier in our region and somehow ended up in the finals room (at 13 years old) with 7 incredibly accomplished juniors and seniors. Absolutely terrified, I stuttered and fumbled around for 6 whole minutes, barely managing to spit out what probably wasn’t even an actual proper Apol speech! What was truly an embarrassing moment for me at the time turned into some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned thus far in my public speaking career.

If you think you know the right words to say in order to present a “perfect” speech, think again. Competition is only a small aspect of the whole experience and if your measure of success is based on how well you do at any given tournament, you need to seriously reconsider why you are doing this. Don’t be fooled: some of the most mature and godly competitors I know never actually placed 1st or even got to finals, but they truly had (and still do have) a heart after God’s. God used them to minister to my life and show me true humility and success. As much as I hate walking into a room and drawing a topic I don’t have a card for, some of my great speeches have actually come from those situations because it was in those times that I was forced to completely surrender to God and ask the Holy Spirit to give me the right words to say. God blessed those efforts and it was then that I began to understand what “trusting in the Lord with ALL your heart” meant.

So as you continue to grow in your faith and in your study of Apologetics, allow me to encourage you to keep your eyes set on the Lord and be constantly tuning your heart to Him. And as you mature in your ability to defend your faith, look for opportunities for God to speak through you in some incredible ways outside of the competition room as well. Ask Him to use YOU as a vessel of love and then have faith that He will bless you for it. If you want to compete well, give it all you’ve got and then trust that God’s will will indeed be done. Our God is a God of wisdom and truth, and when you are willing to seek those things from Him, I promise you the reward will be greater than any type of success you will have ever imagined.

Intern #2 –
The biggest challenge I have faced in apologetics has been resisting the urge to give six minute “mini-sermons”. All of our apologetics judges in christian speech an debate leagues sign a statement of faith. Because our audience is other Christians, sometimes the easiest route to winning a tournament is giving sermons rather than true apologetics speeches. Speaking as if your audience already agrees with your worldview does not prepare you to represent Christ in the situations where you are called to defend the faith. While there is absolutely a place for learning to give challenging, inspiring sermons to a body of believers, apologetics is not that place. Apologetics is, by definition, a defense which necessarily implies an attack. Will quoting 2 Timothy 3:16 alone really convince that Atheist kid in your Philosophy class that he should start reading the Bible? Probably not, so your response to Apologetics topics about the reliability of the Bible must contain more substance and proof that your position is true. This is not to say our speeches cannot impact judges. Even a judge who signs a statement of faith could be struggling with the seeming inconsistencies of God in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament. Defending your faith could make an enormous difference to someone in the room. But remember that your speech is just that: a defense of your faith. Address the topic from the perspective of a true apologist facing an attack on his or her faith. It may not convince judges to give you first, but the awards you win do not point non-believers to Jesus. Practice Apologetics as if you are speaking to men and women who are seeking the truth and need to see the reason for the hope that is within you. You will be more prepared than ever to disseminate the good news to a world that desperately needs it.

Intern #3 –
Through apologetics, God has caused me to have a growing awareness and thirst for who he is. He has used it to deepen my personal relationship with Him. Apologetics challenged me to learn and search questions and characteristics of God which I had never thought about. And in that pursuit, the more I learned of God, the greater my thirst for Him became. In trying to convince others of God’s love, grace, justice, etc. I learned to believe those things myself—and with fervor. It challenged me to know God deeper.

Join these students, and many more in an Apologetics journey! Do you want to grow? How does God want to challenge you?

photo by: Julieanne Photography