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Childsize Apologetics: A New Approach

Henry Zonio

A Faith That Needs No Defense

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).

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 (, is a children's pastor in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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