The following was submitted to my second favorite apologetics ministry Apologetics315, it is about my most favorite apologetics site, how I started an apologetics program at my church and will be featured here along with many other fabulous testimonies and resources to help you get apologetics into your church.
Hello there, my name is Damon Whitsell. I am a member of, and now long dreamed of Apologetics teacher at, Grace Community Baptist Church in Dayton Texas.
Although I have studied General and Christian Cult Apologetics since 1985 and have been DOING Apologetics online and in life since 1998 because I have Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals, Word of Faithers and Bible Missionaries in my family – I was kind of intimidated when I first thought the Lord was leading me to start an Apologetics class at my church. Because of that I just set out to start an Apologetics Movie Night, possibly in someone’s home or at church on a weeknight.
When I went to looking for DVD resources I found Aplologetics315’s “How To Get Apologetics In Your Church” list of testimonies here and here. I found them epically helpful and thought a full blown class was very possible. I really liked some of the suggestions and even considered writing my own curriculum but I am deep into studying to try to become an effective public speaker on the dangers of Islam, so I had to find the easiest way possible. That is when I found Charlie Campbell and AlwaysBeReady.com. Here is how that very valuable resource helped me start a full blown apologetics program at our church. I believe going the ALWAYS BE READY route is so simple, someone who knows nothing about apologetics can start a complete apologetics program at their church.
I did four core things to get started. I bought a 24 pack of Apologetics DVD’s in one case, a 27 Pack with the same DVD’s, plus two more, in their own cases, a bulk order of 30 of one of Charlies books “One Minute Answers To Skeptics Top 40 Questions” and I created a website. Charlies whole website is awesome really. Here is how I used these resources.
I keep the 24 DVD’s in one case and we replaced our Sunday evening discipleship class with a DVD viewing class from 5pm to 6:30pm. I preview/review the video each week, say a little bit beforehand and field questions afterwards. But because of the quality of Charlie’s teaching and video content (samples clips can be seen on Charlies site and Youtube, although some on YT are not as high of quality), there are relatively few questions asked as Charlie usually answers most of the questions later that pop up in your mind while viewing the DVD’s. It was much easier than I thought it would be and does not eat too much into my Islam study and counter-jihad time, as Charlie has his notes for almost all the DVD’s available at his site. I also purchased 3 prong folders with blank notebook paper and a header page with a 16 week schedule on it. I also print Charlie’s notes for everyone each week. They really enjoy it, as I do, and our class has as many attending as our Theology Program (more on that below). We now have a 16 week class that we plan on repeating over and over. And we are starting an 8 week class for our high-school youth using the best and most foundational of those DVD’s.
I turned the 27 pack of DVD’s in individual cases into our Apologetics DVD Library and that is really really popular. Our people are learning allot and one young autistic man is shining and will do great things for God one day. I got a plastic box for filing papers and it is perfect to be THE BOX for our DVD’s. I put labels on the DVD’s and their cases to keep them together easily, a list of the DVD titles on the outside of THE BOX so we all know what DVDs we have, and I require a phone number, if possible, to check DVD’s out. This proved essential when someone left our church and I had to call to get a DVD returned. I keep a sign-out notebook in THE BOX and at first I was taking THE BOX home with me and bringing it to church on Wednesdays and Sundays. But now members can return and check out DVD’s from our secretary, although I still carry THE BOX with me most of the time. When telling the congregation about the DVD library I would say “for those of you who don’t know me yet, I’m Damon and you can just call me the GUY WITH THE BOX”. It really helped everyone learn my name and I eventually learned theirs even though I am really bad with names.
Each Student got a folder to take notes and keep Charlie’s notes in, and a copy of the great and quick reference resource book “One Minute Answers To Skeptics Top 40 Questions”. The books have been passed around the congregation and 8 have been given away to others outside of our church by those who received them, because they either wanted a friend or family member to read them, or they was asked to loan the book out by someone. I paid for everything up-front but the church reimbursed me the around 500 dollars. So when asked how much the books were, I said they were free, even though most tried to give me the 5 dollars, or so, they cost at bulk rate. We are now buying another bulk order of the books for our upcoming apologetics class for our high-school youth. The only bad thing from my perspective about these books, Charlie and his ministry, is the Lordship Salvation (LS) issue. Mr. Cambell is a LS believer and that means he defines repentance differently than we do. Because of this I got an article on Repentance approved by my pastor to clarify a few things Charlie says and attached the article to the inside of the books. On the new purchase of 30 I will be putting labels inside saying the book is a gift from our church and a bit about our classes, so if the books are given away, the people who receive them will know about our church and the total educational program available to them there.
I have experience building websites so I made a website @ GraceApologetics.com for advanced apologetics. In Charlies first DVD, “DEFENDING THE FAITH: The Importance of Contending for the Truths of Christianity”, he mentions website building as a way to DO apologetics by creating a site for yourself or others. He says it is a 5 minute process, and it is, but like he himself has done more to his site than that, you too can have a really nice full featured custom website pretty easily. Charlie recommends blogger but I am an ex-blogger user and now WordPress Fanatic. You can register at WP.com, get a blog, select a theme and make minor customizations such as your own background and/or header. You can go a step further and spice up your sidebars with text, pics, pic links and text links, as I did on our apologetics website. All that is required is to Google how to embed pictures, make Picture Links and Text Links with HTML, and follow the instructions. You can go further and get someone to write some CSS code for further customizations to your themes appearance. Or you can self-host your website and buy a custom theme and even have more custom features and fancier designs if you hire a designer or developer . And it is not as expensive as you might think because of a high level of free-market competition. The options are almost unlimited but it is really easy to make and get started on a basic website at WP.com – in about 5 minutes. Here are some customization resources and WordPress basic operational tutorials. And if you decide to self-host I highly recommend HostGator.com and Ithemes.com for themes. We are turning our blog into a group-blog to give students an avenue to DO apologetics in the public square, online. Instructions on how to do that are here and here. The young man with autism I mentioned earlier will be my first co-group-blogger. He does outstanding study, research and writing, and I am very happy to help him learn how to operate WordPress to publish them and provide him with his first avenue to do so. I think investing in him will have many eternal benefits for both him and myself.
Getting things approved was relatively easy considering at the time I only had a close relationship with the Pastor. I bought the 24 pack in one case first, for myself, and gave the first video to him to watch and told him of my plan. He watched three more of the videos and said run with it. He liked it allot and pushed it through the proper channels quickly. I cannot say how much doing this has helped me personally as I am now known by name to everyone and have developed at least five tight relationships so far because of starting and teaching these classes.
We are also doing a READ ALONG class for 3 young guys who just graduated high school that got into a little trouble and where banned from a previous general study class for our youth they were attending. I have developed relationships with all three of these guys and will be doing an 8 week class viewing DVD’s and reading Paul Littles “Know What You Believe” and “Know Why You Believe” classic apologetic combination. There will be a test to pass at the end, if they pass the church is buying them an all you can eat Pizza dinner. If not, we will do the class one more time. The church council for approval on that is now scheduled and the pastor and one of the deacons say it will surely get voted in. And the deacon said he will even pay for the books if funds are not appropriated because of current financial hard-times at the church.
As far as promotion, all I did was have the pastor speak about it from the Pulpit, he even gave a few apologetics based sermons. And he announced the start of the class for several weeks preceding the beginning of the class, and periodically afterwards. For about the first 6 weeks I put up flyers in the church saying a little bit about that weeks specific subject matter and giving the DVD title. I did the same with the Church sign/marquee.
So what we have now is an always repeating 16 week class for everyone, a twice a year 8 week class for high-school youth, a onetime 8 week class for our 3 young recently out of high-schoolers, an Apologetics Library and I am almost certainly fixing to live my dream and will be teaching a class on Islam. I am sure many things will change and one day I hope to also teach a class on the Word of Faith (WoF) Movement too because that is one of my areas of past deep study. We will be videoing and youtubing the Read Along, Islam and WoF classes. We are considering hosting an Apologetics Conference to spread the love of, and need for, Apologetics to other churches in our community. And because we do all this learning emphasizing evangelism, we hope to reach our community and touch the world for Christ too.
Along with our Apologetics Program, Theology Program, and other classes, it is possible that we have the best total educational program in town now that we have started an apologetics program. We have Theology to know WHAT WE BELIEVE and Apologetics to know WHY WE BELIEVE what we believe. And now we are ALWAYS READY to defend the historical orthodox faith that we believe in. I have advocated The Theology Program for about 6 years after I decided to purchase the program for myself instead of returning to Bible College. It is the best learning resource I have ever found. It is rightfully billed a “Seminary For You”. You can find an interview with its founder Michael Patton here on Aplogetics315 . Please take a look to see if it will be perfect for you and your church too.
I prayerfully hope this testimony, idea and reources will help someone, as I was amazed at just how easy and well the ALWAYS BE READY route worked out for me and my church. It is possibly the best thing I have ever done for my spiritual life with my Lord also. Myself and our Church has reaped many benefits and it looks like long term reaping ahead of us. My Pastor said this will probably help us build a larger membership in the long run. It for sure has blessed and grown me. If I can be of any assistance to anyone just contact me @ damonw_25 (AT) yahoo.com
Thanks for reading and GOD BLESS and be with you as you do your part to better your church, community and the world for Christ by starting an apologetics class or program at your church. It really is that big and important of a thing.
The How2BecomeAChristian Apologetics Network
The DVD Titles
1. The Importance of Defending the Faith
2. Evidence for the Existence of God
3. All Roads Do Not Lead to God
4. Evidence for the Bible
5. An Examination of Apparent Contradictions in the Bible
6. If God is Loving, Why is there Evil and Suffering?
7. Hell Under Fire
8. My Top Five Questions (renamed “How to Respond to Critics”)
9. The Case for the Resurrection
10. The Lost Tomb of Jesus
11. Six Cures for the Fear of Evangelism
13. Jehovah’s Witnesses
15. Roman Catholicism
16. The New Age Movement
19. The Emerging Church and the Battle for Truth
20. The Deity of Christ
21. Answers to Skeptics‘ Top Five Questions
22. The End Times: Ten Upcoming Events in Bible Prophecy
23. The Case for a Pretribulational Rapture
24. The Second Coming, Preterism, and the Book of Revelation
25. The Universe and the Love of God
26. Reaching the Lost
27. New! Wise Decision Making
Some questions effectively and concisely answered in the book.
1. What evidence do you have that there is a God?
2. What evidence do you have that the Bible is actually true?
3. Hasn’t the Bible undergone corruption as it was translated through the centuries?
4. What about those who have never heard about Jesus? Will they be condemned to Hell?
5. If God is so loving, why does He allow evil and suffering?
6. Does it really matter what people believe as long as they are sincere?