“Recognize that God is in charge, at work and
present in your life and the lives of your children.”
Recently, I had an encouraging conversation with Robin Martens, Pastor at Campbell River Baptist Church, about conversations on apologetics in the family. Robin also does Worldview training for senior high school students at Campbell River Christian School. The following are excerpts from that conversation that I hope will encourage you as well.
L.O.: How did conversations about apologetics begin in your family?
R.M.: Our conversations began when my daughter, who was 6 years old at the time, asked how we know that God exists and that the Bible is true? I realized then that to disciple her in her questions, I needed to figure out some simple, straightforward responses that were at her level. I’ve found since then that these straightforward concepts are helpful in discussions with people of any age.
L.O.: What other questions did you run into in the early elementary years?
R.M.: We talked about questions like “How is God eternal?” and “Are miracles possible?”
L.O.: Should we as parents wait to begin these discussions until our children ask us similar questions?
R.M.: I always sought to teach my kids the Bible, but it was my daughter who first initiated apologetic type questions. Once I knew that she was thinking of these things, I also began to ask her some questions. This provided the chance for us to get comfortable with this type of conversation. For example, one of the questions I asked was “Why do you think there is so much bad in the world?” I feel it is important to make children feel safe to ask whatever questions they have and to encourage conversations around these questions at home.
Children in the late elementary and early secondary school years will be naturally wondering about aspects of the faith that they have grown up with. These are good years to begin asking questions that lead to discussion. It gives them plenty of time to think through things before they enter college, university and the world at large. I don’t want them to hear anything they haven’t already heard at home; no surprises.
L. O.: How might parents prepare for faith questions that will arise in their children’s lives?
R.M.: I have seen three patterns that are helpful in preparing for family discussions around faith questions.
- Recognize that God is in charge, at work and present in your life and the lives of your children. Don’t get overwhelmed by the questions. Fully trust him to reveal himself as we seek Him and his truth.
- Connect with a ‘local authority’. This is someone to whom you can go in your church or community to discuss apologetic type questions and who can help begin and direct your research. If you don’t know someone who might be this resource, you can connect with an online community such as www.apologeticscanada.com, www.reasonablefaith.org and www.coldcasechristianity.com.
- Begin by addressing the most fundamental issues of our culture. I like to define these in terms of our origin, the problem with the world, the solution to the problem and our eternal destiny. Apologetics Canada’s Thinking series also tackles these fundamentals well with its 5 questions worth thinking about: What is the meaning of life? Does God exist? Why is there evil and suffering? Do all religions lead to God? Is there Life After Death?
Spend some time reading and be familiar with the current events and issues of our day. When you hear a new objection to the faith, pursue a response. Pray and ask yourself, “What questions would it take to counter this objection?” As you do this, you will develop a repertoire or inventory that will become helpful in conversations with your family and others in your community.
L. O.: Any thoughts to leave with parents?
R.M.: Trust God. We can’t play the Holy Spirit in our children’s lives. However, it is important to invest in their minds and do what we can to provide a solid foundation. Lastly, pray that God will bring people that will speak into their lives when they wrestle with questions that come their way.
Coming Fall 2013: Watch for more resources for parents to help develop your inventory of straightforward, kid-friendly responses to important questions about why we believe what we believe!