Tom Gilson

Apologetics In Your Teaching: How to Handle the Hot Questions Without Getting Sidetracked

Fifth in a series on “How to Use Apologetics In Your Teaching Without Scaring Anyone Away.”

I just wrote on the questions and anti-Christian challenges that have overrun the media and the Internet the past few years. There’s a long list of them. And if your teaching or preaching touches on anything on that list, you should some of expect your listeners will start wondering what the answer is — or even if there is an answer.

Now, that might lead you to wonder if you can ever get anywhere in teaching your way through a topic, or a passage. It might sound like a recipe for eternally getting sidetracked.

Here’s the good news, though: You don’t need to give the answer right then. You can punt instead.

How to Punt Without Missing the Point

What if you’re not the pastor or the teacher…

… but you still want to help bring apologetics into your church from where you are?

You can start working that direction, and you can help others in other churches everywhere do the same, too. Check out the Spiritual Readiness Project, and especially the best step you can take right now: Take Your Pastor to Lunch!

Just address the question very briefly. In fact, all you have to do is name the question.

Then say, “If anyone is wondering about this, I’ve got a web site or a book I can share with you on it.” Or, “I’ll be glad to sit and talk with about it later.” Or, “There’s this other church member who can talk with you about it.”

Then move on with what you were teaching.

This does six things for you and your people.

  1. It lets your church or group know that you’re aware of what’s going on in the world. Bible teaching that’s completely disconnected from current life feels, well, disconnected. And you could say the same for Bible teachers. We who teach the Bible need to show that we’re not unaware of challenges that come up outside the walls of our churches.
  2. It tells your people you’re not afraid of tough questions. It communicates for them that they don’t need to be afraid, either, because someone has an answer.
  3. It just might lead someone to an answer they’ve been looking for. Suppose you touch on some topic that’s been on someone’s mind. Maybe something at school has set them struggling with the question of creation and evolution. Maybe they’ve been told that Christianity is hopeless anti-science. It could be that the resource you recommend for them is exactly what they need to set their minds at ease about the reasonable goodness of the faith.
  4. It could open up a relational ministry opportunity for you and a questioner. You might have a chance to counsel someone through a problem they’ve been dealing with — once they know that you’ve got something to offer on it.
  5. It could give you a chance to let someone else lead effectively; that is, if there’s another church member who’s equipped to handle the hard questions. This in turn will contribute to their own growth in Christ and in ministry.
  6. Meanwhile, in the midst of all that, it lets you stay on track with whatever it is you’ve been teaching.


It may have been possible at one time to overlook the questions our teachings might stir up. Those days are over. Now there’s too much risk that someone could be derailed from the faith by some question we brush by too quickly. But we can still make our answers quick, just by naming the problem and punting to another time, another resource that can help with it.

Image Credit(s): Tim Gouw/Unsplash.


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