by Ryan Turner
Why Apologetics is Important
The Bible commands us to give a defense of our faith (1 Pet. 3:15) and to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). This discipline of giving answers to people’s questions about Christianity is known as Christian apologetics. However, apologetics is integrally related to discipleship and evangelism. Jesus commanded us to evangelize the lost by making disciples. Since apologetics is known as pre-evangelism, it is important that we engage in apologetics.
The Importance of the Family
First, I strongly believe that the family is the bedrock of the Christian Church. If families are strong, the churches will be strong; if the churches are strong, communities will be strong; if communities are strong, nations will be strong; if nations are strong, then our world will be strong. As a result of the vast importance of the family, it is extremely important to make sure that your family is grounded in the truth. This is the case whether you are a single parent or a two-parent household.
You must make sure that you are saved and trained yourself. As mentioned in a previous article, the foundation to proper apologetics is salvation and spiritual maturity, critical thinking skills, and sound theology. You do not have to have a Ph.D. in philosophy or theology to teach your family, but it is important that you at least have the willingness to learn. In fact, you will probably do most of your learning as you teach and disciple your family.
So how do we do apologetics with the Family?
#1: Take Personal Responsibility
First, take personal responsibility yourself to train your kids. Do not depend on the church or the school system to train and equip your kids. You must be willing to do it yourself. Unfortunately, many churches do not equip young kids to know their faith and how to share it.
#2: Personal Devotions and Prayer
Second, you must lead your family in personal devotions (Bible reading and prayer) on a regular basis. There is no magic formula of “You must have devotions as a family every day” or “You must have devotions as a family twice a week.” However, just make sure that it is something that you engage in on a regular basis. All you have to do is read basic passages from the Bible in a slow manner and (depending on your children’s ages) discuss the passages with your children afterwards. You could start with the book of Proverbs or the Gospel of John. You also could use a number of helpful children’s Bible study material such as the material from Children’s Bible Hour: http://www.cbhministries.org/home.php. Children’s Bible Hour Ministries actually provides a number of illustrative stories which help explain Biblical teachings or themes. This helps your children to think about applying what they hear from the Bible.
After or before reading the Bible, you could spend some time praying with your children. Teach your children to be able to pray out loud and in public. Teach them to have confidence to pray and have a relationship with God. This is extremely important as they grow up and get into the public square. If their faith is extremely private, they will never make a difference in the world.
Make sure that you read the Bible in a translation that your children can understand. The best Bible translations would be the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), or the New King James Version (NKJV). Again, do not worry about being perfect--just make an effort and you will have good results.
#3: Talk to your Children about God
Third, talk with your children about God and their spiritual life. It is amazing how many parents do not even talk to their children about spiritual things or explain to their children the gospel message. Though your child must personally trust Christ as his or her Savior, I strongly encourage you to invite your children to get saved. Do not leave it up to the pastor or youth minister of your church. You must personally talk to your own children about the Lord.
Once your child is a believer, teach him how to share his faith with non-believers. Training your child how to evangelize others will build confidence and maturity in your child's walk with the Lord. It will also make him way more effective to reach others in the world.
#4: See that your Children Receive an Excellent Education
Fourth, make sure that your children receive an excellent education. There is much debate among Christian parents today regarding homeschooling vs. private schooling vs. public schooling. I honestly think that there are excellent public and private schools, but I think that homeschooling is the best means to train and equip your kids. I was homeschooled from Kindergarten through 12th grade; and if I had to do it over again, I would do the same.
Homeschooling places the burden of discipleship and teaching upon the parents where it belongs. It does not leave it up to a teacher or the public system to mold and shape your child’s life.
If your child spends about half of his waking hours per day at a public school where he is not taught the fear of the Lord, is spoon-fed secular ideologies like evolution and socialism, and does not receive much training from his parents or church, it is not surprising that he will “lose” his faith and become a non-believer. If he is taught to think like an unbeliever and act like an unbeliever, then it is not surprising that he will start being an unbeliever.
If most of a child’s young life is spent at a secular public school, he will spend most of his time being influenced by his peers. Who do you want to be the biggest influence on your children: yourself or his ungodly peers?
The average Christian kid’s life:
- 168 hours per week (24 hours per day x 7 days per week)
- 63 hours: Sleeping (9 hours per day x 7 days per week)
- 56 hours: Time at School (8 hours per day x 7 days per week)
- 12 hours: Extracurricular Activities (Homework, Sports, etc.,) (2 hours per day x 6 days per week)
- 21 hours: Entertainment (TV, video games) (3 hours per day x 7 days per week)
- 2-3 hours: Church Activities
If a child receives a public education, does not receive family discipleship training while in the home, and only receives a menial Christian education from the Church, he basically will know nothing about Christianity. As a result, he will not be able to effectively share his faith and impact the world.
I am not saying that parents should isolate their kids from the world and hide them in a homeschooling bubble where they do not receive any interaction with the world. There are extreme instances where homeschooling is done in a wrong manner. Kids do need socialization, and they should be around children their own ages. However, the primary influence on their life should be godly adults--not immature children.
Also, there are a number of good private and public schools. Many teachers in these schools work extremely hard and have a desire to teach children to read and write. They often work for low wages and are extremely committed to helping children. I definitely admire that.
There are also a number of excellent private Christian schools where children can receive solid Christian training from godly teachers. In many Christian schools, there is a strong emphasis on learning a Christian worldview with classes on Bible, history, science, government, etc., and all from a Christian perspective.
What if I can’t home school or put my kids in private school?
Nevertheless, for many people it is just not feasible for them to homeschool or put their kids in private school. However, if such is the case, you can still apply the steps listed above: taking personal responsibility, having personal devotions, talking to your children about God, and seeing that your child receives an excellent education whether he receives public, private, or home education.
Though you may not be able to choose the curriculum that your child uses, you can still discuss with your child what he or she is learning in public school and equip him or her to reach out to their classmates. God has children in public schools to be salt and light (Mt. 5:13-16).
#5: Use a number of helpful resources to train your kids.
Finally, get access to a number of helpful resources related to apologetics and worldview training.
Resources for Apologetics and Worldview Training for Children
The following is a list of resources that I found on the Internet related to Apologetics and Worldview material that is suitable for children. Please let me know if you are aware of other resources which I did not list.
Teen Only (14 and up)
- Summit Ministries - A great wealth of information available to equip teens for college. A two-week intensive summer training session available in Colorado Springs, CO.
- Focus on the Family's Truth Project (http://www.thetruthproject.org) - A simple overview of the various areas that compose a worldview and how a Christian can think correctly.
Kids (4-13) and Teens (14 and up)
- CARM’s Online Theology, Apologetics, and Critical Thinking schools.
- Answers in Genesis: Scientific Apologetics for the Family (http://www.answersingenesis.org)
- Answers in Genesis: Kids Apologetics (http://www.answersingenesis.org)
- Christian Book Distributors: Kids Apologetics Resources
- Christian Book Distributors: Excellent kids book resources