I am sorry I missed the first one. Since 1993, Southern Evangelical Seminary has had an annual Christian apologetics conference. 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 old or young eager Christian apologist, there is nothing else like it. Nowhere else can you go, listen and speak with seasoned Christian apologists who work on the front lines of diverse apologetic ministries. Where else in one weekend can you listen and speak with men and women who specializing 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. I realize not everyone can travel or get away for such a conference, but now many past conferences are available online or in the app. So there are no excuses. But just in case you are wresting this year with going or not going, here are my top three reasons, every Christian should attend an apologetics conference at least once a year:
Reason #1 You will learn something new or see something as 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, a book or article mentioned. Even in the not so best talks, I could 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 whose feet I have had the opportunity to sit at and learn even if it was just for one weekend a year. It was a time to concentrate on one thing rather than be concerned about other things.
Reason #2 You will be highly motivated to defend the faith. The Bible says every believer, 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 on 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 (perhaps once a year) with likeminded 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.
Reason #3 The Church is failing at equipping believers in Christian apologetics. This one hurts and I share in the blame. In the 24 years, I have been attending the National Conference on Christian Apologetics 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, 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. Therefore, we have an annual apologetics conference you should attend to help reverse the neglect of apologetics in the church. Just answer this one question: Does a qualified person in your church regularly teach a class that centers on the sequential steps that demonstrate that Christianity is true and incorporates the latest findings from the above-mentioned subjects? If you answered, “yes,” then fine by all means you are merely encouraged to attend for reasons #1 and #2. However, if you answered “no,” will you be there to help change #3 . . .