Christian youth leaders need to teach teenagers and young adults the basics of apologetics in order to be able to defend their faith in a logical manner, says student pastor and writer Benjer McVeigh.
McVeigh notes that even though youth ministers may not be educated in philosophy or apologetics, they need to be able to answer questions that may arise from young individuals about the validity of their faith. Not doing so may hinder them from justifying their belief in Jesus from common objections, he explains.
"I believe that one of the ways that youth workers can equip teenagers in a meaningful way is to help them understand that faith in Jesus is not a blind faith that goes against all reason but rather a logical response to evidence that supports the existence of the God of the Bible and the fact that Jesus really is who the Bible claims him to be," McVeigh wrote in a blog post for Church Leaders.
Apologetics in its very nature is "a branch of Christian theology which attempts to give a rational defense of the Christian faith," according to Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. In other words, it is the notion of defending Christian beliefs against heretical ideas or objections.
Though apologetics can delve into complex theological topics, McVeigh says teenagers are not deterred from learning about such teachings.
Among some of the common questions teenagers ask, as he has experienced in ministry, is whether all religions lead to the same God. He notes that there is a common sentiment in society that it is acceptable to believe in any religion because they ultimately lead to the same place or they are all the same, the only difference is that they all call God by a different name.
However, he emphazied that this sentiment should be countered with discussion points that have a Biblical foundation and lead to the conclusion that not all religions lead to heaven.
Science and Christianity is another topic that teenagers are eager about learning, explained McVeigh.
"It's easy for many students to draw the conclusion that science and Christianity are inherently at odds with one another," McVeigh wrote. "It's important for students to understand that some of the best evidence for a creator God comes directly from science."
In addition, McVeigh notes that youth leaders should also focus on teaching teenagers that the Bible is in fact valid, since he notes that they tend to question its teachings. He explains, "If you can't explain where the Bible came from and why we can trust it, aside from 'the Bible tells me so,' which would be circular reasoning, then students won't devote themselves to their own study of the word."
Furthermore, teenagers in youth ministries are curious about why evil exists in the world, noted McVeigh. While teens may be underestimated because of their age and inexperience in life, McVeigh says they often ask questions regarding the topic not because of media or culture, but because of the evil they experience in their own lives.
"This is not just an intellectual issue for most teenagers. They need a good response to this question because they have been hurt, abused, lost loved ones and seen far too much evil firsthand," McVeigh wrote. "This is by far the most difficult question on this list, and probably the one that's closest to the hearts of the teenagers you serve."
Although he encourages youth ministers to learn about apologetics in a way that gives teenagers a basic understanding of how to properly respond to such questions if they are ever asked to defend their faith, McVeigh admits that oftentimes, it is acceptable not to know how to address them.
"While we can't expect to have all the answers to questions teenagers ask us about faith, 'I don't know' is an honest and commendable answer when we really don't have an answer … Teenagers can be very smart, and if you can't address some of the apologetics topics that often come up in youth ministry, they may think that there are no good responses …" McVeigh wrote.