[By Elizabeth Urbanowicz]
Have you ever noticed that apologetic events seem like the only place where there isn’t a line at the women’s restroom? As a female with a tiny bladder and a thirty-four-ounce Nalgene, I am usually thankful for this fact. However, as an apologist, I am concerned. The absence of a line at the ladies’ room means that apologetic conferences are missing two significant demographics, women and kids.
Why is this? I am so glad you asked! You see, apologetic conferences are not exactly geared toward children. And if children can’t attend, who do you think is at home caring for them? You guessed it – Mom.
While many argue “This is just how it is,” this current arrangement of apologetic conferences presents a considerable problem. If we desire to impact the next generation through apologetics, our target audience cannot be middle-aged males. Why not? Well, it is not middle-aged males who are driving the next generation to soccer practice, helping with their homework, or tucking them into bed. Moms are the ones in the daily grind, where real-life apologetic issues arise. But, if we continue to make apologetic events inaccessible to moms, we are essentially crippling our troops on the front lines. Who's the one driving to soccer practice and helping kids with homework? If we don't make apologetics more accessible to moms, we are crippling our troops on the frontline. Click To Tweet
So, why not offer childcare at apologetics conferences? This would enable husbands and wives to attend apologetic events together, growing them closer as a married unit, and equipping them for apologetic discipleship in their homes. But, wait a minute! What if we kicked up this vision a notch? What if, rather than merely providing childcare, we offered apologetics training for kids? What a novel, yet brilliant idea!
Why aren’t we all doing this?!
While many recognize the benefit of including the whole family in apologetic training, most are skeptical about the practicality of kids’ programming. “Children aren’t interested in apologetics.” “Kids really don’t need apologetics until they’re in high school.” “Not enough of our people are trained.” “It just won’t work.” Some might consider these to be excuses. I think they are just misunderstandings.
As an elementary educator with a decade of classroom experience and a soon-to-be graduate of Biola’s Apologetics Department, let me clear up a few of these misconceptions.
Misconception 1: “Children aren’t interested in apologetics.” – Kids are naturally inquisitive. They are wired to explore, investigate, and ask a continuous series of “why” questions. Apologetics is a natural fit for their curious minds. Sure, if we sit them down and expect them to listen to an hour-long lecture on the Correspondence Theory of Truth, they will be bored. But if we send them out in groups on a treasure hunt, with each team having a different set of instructions, only one of which aligns with reality, well, the Correspondence Theory of Truth just became an adventure! Children are interested in apologetics when we present apologetic concepts at a developmentally appropriate level.Children are interested in apologetics when we present apologetic concepts at a developmentally appropriate level. - Elizabeth Urbanowicz Click To Tweet
Misconception 2: “Kids really don’t need apologetics until they are in high school.” – I bristle every time I hear someone say this. If you don’t think kids need apologetics, walk down your church hallway to the elementary Sunday school classrooms. Give the kids a survey that asks two simple questions: 1. Have you ever wondered how we know the Bible is True? 2. If so, what questions do you have about the Bible? I gave that exact survey to a group of two-hundred third through fifth-grade students at a private Christian school in Illinois. Seventy-nine percent of the students indicated yes, they had wondered how we know the Bible is True. And they asked the same questions many adults ask. “How do we know those books actually came from God?” “What if somebody copied them wrong?” “How do I know that the Bible is the only true book from God? Couldn’t another religion’s book be right too?” Kids ponder these questions, even if they never verbalize them. This is why they need apologetics. Kids often have the exact same questions as adults. They just don't know how to verbalize them. Click To Tweet
Misconception 3: “Not enough of our people are trained.” – That may be true. But here’s the good news…You only need one person trained in apologetics! The remainder of the adult volunteers can function as small-group leaders who guide the kids through the material and learn alongside them. Volunteers don’t need a Masters in Apologetics. They simply need a love for Jesus, a heart for kids, and an eagerness to learn.
Misconception 4: “It just won’t work.” – Yes, it will. With the right materials and proper planning, apologetics for kids is possible. How do I know? Because we just did it! Was it easy? Heck no. There was a lot of preparation that went into it. But don’t you think building families up together in apologetics is worth the trouble? I do.
What were our results?
While many people were still hung up on these objections, Mama Bear Apologetics and Women in Apologetics collaborated in a bold move to offer the first-ever kids’ apologetic track at their inaugural conference. How did it go? Keep reading.
Twenty-eight third through sixth-grade students attended the kids’ conference. The theme for the day was Truth. Students participated in five different, age-appropriate lessons that looked at six essential questions:
- What is Truth?
- Is knowing and following the Truth Important?
- What does God’s Word say about Truth?
- What does God’s Word say about lies?
- How can I figure out what is True?
- Is the Truth True for everyone?
Each lesson included a whole-group teaching time, interactive activities, small group time, and an assignment that assessed student learning. And the results? Well, they were incredible!
The students were engaged in each lesson and enjoyed the activities. When the moms of two fourth-grade boys came to pick them up an hour early, the boys begged their moms to let them stay until the end. What were those boys doing when their moms came? Dodgeball? No. LEGOs? Nope. They happened to be writing paragraphs defending how they knew Truth is True for everyone. I kid you not.
Not only did the kids have fun, but they grasped the concepts covered! Here are a few of their responses to the assesment.
- “Truth is what is real.”
- “What people feel doesn’t change the Truth even though we believe different things.”
- “Even if you don’t believe it is true. The Truth does not change.”
The kids got it! This was confirmed by parent responses to a survey sent out the following week. One hundred percent of the respondents indicated that, at home, their child was able to articulate different concepts covered in the lessons. What does this tell us? Kids are capable of thinking apologetically!
What About You?
Twenty-eight southern California kids are now equipped to articulate and defend Truth, thanks to Women in Apologetics’ bold move at their conference. And, while the kids received this training, their parents attended top-notch sessions at the adult conference. Entire families are now equipped to begin thinking apologetically!
But what about the families in your neck of the woods? Who is providing apologetics training for adults and kids near you? If you are involved in an apologetics ministry, why not present this concept to your organization? If you don’t know of anyone willing to offer this type of training, contact Women in Apologetics and ask for information about hosting an event at your church. Interested in a kids’ track? Please contact me, Elizabeth Urbanowicz at firstname.lastname@example.org I would be happy to assist in your endeavors!
Apologetics training for the whole family is possible. And, not only is it possible, it is necessary for the healthy spiritual development of families in a post-Christian culture. Now, the only question is, what are you waiting for?A KIDS apologetics track at an ADULTS apologetics conference? Who's crazy enough to do that?! #MamaBear and #WomenInApologetics that's who! Click To Tweet
Elizabeth Urbanowicz is the author of the soon-to-be published curriculum Foundation, an apologetics and comparative worldview curriculum for elementary students. Elizabeth is currently finishing her Masters in Christian Apologetics at Biola University, where she is writing her thesis, The Developmental Appropriateness and Necessity of Apologetics and Worldview Instruction in the Elementary Years. She can be contacted at email@example.com