What We’re Learning from Pastors

We’re spending time listening to pastors, learning how they think apologetics can best serve the church. This listening phase will continue at least through this summer.

The Need

I’ve been pleasantly — though soberly — surprised to hear how concerned pastors are. They see the changes in society, the rising anti-Christian hostility, the increasing youth defection rate. It used to be harder than this to get pastors’ attention on these issues. That’s no longer as difficult.

Entry Points

For the role of apologists in church, what we’re hearing so far is that there are three main things that will advance their ministries. This applies to local-level apologetics-interested persons as much as it does to regional or national traveling/speaking/writing apologists. It boils down quite simply to:

  1. Relationships,
  2. Relationships, and
  3. Relationships.

That leaves out some other helpful factors, but I hope you get the point. Apologists will have effective ministry in churches to the extent they build relationships there, especially with pastors.

I was at lunch with one pastor, for example, asking him what would do the most good, and he said, “This right here. Lunch. With pastors.”

Another prominent leader, who has two sons with Ph.D.s in apologetics, said relationships were the main thing.

Along with that, that same leader suggested apologists’ best entry point is through students, and through parents who care about their kids’ spiritual futures. Few adults are much worried about their own life or their own witness, but they care about their kids.


Several pastors have shared practical ideas for apologists and apologetics. I’m working on one of them, a church-focused short video project that I’ll explain more as it gets further down the pike.

Another thought from a pastor located near a major university: Much of the problem stems from persons’ general inability to think clearly and logically. It’s a culture-wide education problem.

He suggested producing short booklets along the model of the 9 Marks project, covering several basic apologetics issues, one issue per booklet, in bite-sized lengths.

He also recommends a pastors-and-wives retreat, half of which would be devoted to discussing spiritual readiness topics, and half of which would be a retreat/VIP/spa kind of treatment. It might be good for them just to have time to kick around thoughts with each other, with people who get what they’re going through.

Continuing Work

This project is still in process. We’ll keep you informed. Just in case I forget to mention it, though, there’s one key finding we’re already confident will remain an important one: the importance of relationships. Apologists, take your pastor to lunch. Give yourself the chance to know him, and for him to know you. It’s foundational.

(Image source: https://www.fairchild.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2001941970/)

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