Childsize Apologetics: A New Approach

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A Faith That Needs No Defense

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Traditionally, it seems the main premise of apologetics is to
vigorously defend the Christian faith. I’ve always wondered why
some think they need to defend it. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t
seek to understand our faith more fully or correct misconceptions
of Christianity, but being on the defensive implies that our faith
is somehow weak and unable to stand on its own.

Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, and Peter
identified Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. In his
affirmation to Peter, Jesus stated this about his church, “Upon
this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will
not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18).

When we unintentionally give children the message that their faith
in God needs to be defended, we imply a faith that’s wimpy at best
and devoid of truth or power at worst. Yes, we’re called to equip
and empower children to stand firm in their faith, but the strength
and confidence they need comes from a source more powerful than
information and knowledge. “But you will receive power when the
Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling
people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in
Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

So what does the new apologetics look like, one that values
transformation over information, an empowered faith that needs no
defense, and understands how children express their spirituality?
Simply put, I believe that kind of apologetic originates out of a
spiritually formed person-regardless of age. Most of us agree-a
spiritually formed person is someone who follows the greatest
commandments: Loving God and loving others (Mark 12:29-31).

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When we think of apologetics in this way, we move from an
apologetics of debating information to an apologetics of love. Eric
Bryant, navigator with the leadership team at Mosaic Church in Los
Angeles and author of Peppermint-Filled Pinatas: Breaking
Through Tolerance and Embracing Love
(Zondervan), puts it this
way, “Kids are quicker to believe (as Jesus suggests), but even
they need proof. The greatest proof is love.” cm

Henry Zonio, author of the Elemental Children’s Ministry blog
(elementalcm.com), is a
children’s pastor in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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