I am sorry I missed the first one. For 27 years, Southern Evangelical Seminary has held an annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA). I have attended all of them since 1994. Admittedly, for about half of them, my attendance was related to work. Nevertheless, even before that, I can remember eagerly awaiting the conference, encouraging my friends and family to attend, and buying my ticket. For an experienced or novice Christian apologist, there is nothing else like it. Nowhere else can you go listen to, and speak with, seasoned Christian apologists who work on the front lines of diverse apologetic ministries. Where else at one event can you listen and speak with men and women who specialize in a defense of the Christian faith related to the Bible, theology, cults, morality, philosophy, religions, science, archeology, and history? Indeed, such conferences are rare, sorely needed today, and nothing else compares to it. In my experience, I would often need months to digest and take in all that I learned and gleaned from some of the best apologists in the nation, if not the world.
Given the unknowns related to COVID-19 restrictions for gatherings and travel, for the first time ever this year’s NCCA will be completely virtual. For a very modest admission fee, you will have access to over 100 hours of live-stream content (with on-demand recordings posted back to the event) from Frank Turek, Richard Land, Richard Howe, Abdu Murray, Hugh Ross, Gary Habermas, John Stonestreet, Daniel Wallace and nearly 70 other apologists. There is literally no excuse to miss this invaluable training. But just in case you need convincing, here are my top three reasons every Christian should attend (virtually in this case) an apologetics conference at least once a year.
1. You Will Learn Something New or See Something Important that You Likely Cannot Get Elsewhere.
I have been around apologetics for a long time. I have listened to many talks. I have heard the best and on rare occasions the “not-so-best” — the ones that went over my head and the ones I had to pick up my feet to get over. Many of them spiritually convicted me. In almost every talk, however, I always take away or identify something new or important. It could be something as obvious as a question, objection, answer, argument, new evidence, a clear concise definition, illustration, or story. It could be as subtle as something humorous or a book or article mentioned. Even in the “not-so-best” talks, I can always identify something, even if it was something never said or done that I know should have been. My growth over the years in the subject of apologetics ministry personally and professionally is a testimony to everyone under whose tutelage I have had the opportunity to sit and learn even if it was just once a year. It was a time to concentrate on one thing rather than be concerned about other things.
2. You Will Be Highly Motivated to Defend the Faith.
The Bible says all believers, to the best of their ability, should prepare to give an answer for their faith, yet with humility (Romans 12:3; 1 Peter 3:15). Often in our preparation, we lack the central ingredient of motivation. Attendees I have spoken to over the years comment how they wish they could get their whole family, school, or church to come. They often say, “There is no other place we can go and be motivated to learn and do apologetics.” Indeed, no man is an island. Iron sharpens iron. Such motivation can only come from surrounding yourself on a regular basis (even just once a year) with like-minded believers, inspiring talks, and important resources. If you go, you will be blessed, equipped, and motivated to share Christ after seeing the defense of the Gospel.
3. The Church is Failing to Equip Believers in Christian Apologetics.
This one hurts, and I share in the blame. In the 20 plus years I have been attending the NCCA I have seen it grow from hundreds of attendees to thousands. Over the years, I have seen the proliferation of apologetic programs of study, ministries, books, and resources especially via the internet, as I never imagined. The number of well known apologists is increasing (some of them I went to seminary with, and others are my former students). Yet, given the total number of Christians in churches today, to our shame we are still a comparatively small movement whose impact within the church can merely be described as marginal. The bottom line is that most churches today, for whatever reasons, continue to ignore the biblically mandated ministry and role of equipping every believer in apologetics. Given our culture’s hostility towards truth and goodness in general, and Christianity in particular, the defense of the Gospel cannot be neglected. Therefore, we have an annual apologetics conference you should attend.
Answer this one question. Does a qualified person in your church regularly teach a class that centers on the sequential steps that demonstrate the truthfulness of Christianity and equips you with the ability to engage our post-Christian culture? If you answered “Yes,” that’s wonderful, and you are encouraged to attend the NCCA for the first two reasons. However, if you answered “No,” will you attend to help change reason three? Like it or not, we are in the midst of an ever-growing spiritual warfare, and we dare not fight this war of ideas ill equipped and unprepared.
The 2020 SES National Conference on Christian Apologetics will be a six-day virtual apologetics event Oct. 12-17 (Monday-Friday evenings; Saturday afternoon). To get tickets and learn more, click here.