If you have worked with teenagers for any length of time, then you know that they ask some great questions. Occasionally, we’ll do a session or a series with the teenagers at our church where they are invited to ask questions they’d like to have addressed; we’ll often get more questions than we have students.
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. 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—we should at least have a good handle on some of the most common questions teenagers ask about Jesus and the Bible. 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 to common objections to faith in Jesus.
You may have barely finished college, and philosophy and apologetics may not be your forté; that’s OK. But it doesn’t give you an excuse to neglect some of the most important questions teenagers in your church and community might be asking. Here are five apologetics topics youth workers should have a handle on (and how to study up on them at the bethinking.org website, one of my favorite apologetics resources):
Do all religions lead to the same place?
A common sentiment in our culture is that it doesn’t really matter what you believe, because all religions lead to the same goal or place (or just call God by a different name); it just matters that you believe sincerely. A very brief (i.e., five-minute) look at the basic tenets of some of the world’s major religions shows this not to be true. Check out this article by Josh McDowell on the topic.
Are Science and Christianity enemies?
Most high school students see Inherit the Wind in their school at some point in time during their education. It’s easy for many students to draw the conclusion from this movie that science and Christianity are inherently at odds with one another. It’s important for students to understand that some of the best evidence for a creator God comes directly from science. Here’s an article on the topic by Alister McGrath.
Can we trust the Bible?
This is a fundamental question because the Bible forms the bulk of our teaching material as Christian youth workers. If you can’t explain where the Bible came from and why we can trust it (aside from “the Bible tells me so”; that would be circular reasoning), then students won’t devote themselves to their own study of the Word. Chris Knight has a great article on why we can trust the New Testament here. On the reliability of the Old Testament, K.A. Kitchen’s book is a resource I turn to time and again.
Was Jesus really God (and other related questions)?
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if Jesus wasn’t who the Bible claims him to be (and if he didn’t do what the Bible claims him to have done, including his resurrection), there’s not much point in taking him seriously, let alone making him Lord of your life. Peter Kreeft offers some great insight on this topic here.
If God is real, why is there so much evil in the world (and in my life)?
In my experience, teenagers don’t always ask about the problem of evil because of what they see in the news; they often ask 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. 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. Josh McDowell has a great introductory article on the topic here.
QUESTION: Are there any apologetics topics you would add to this list?