A Look at Common Questions About Doing Apologetics on College Campuses

In 2004, I started going to The Ohio State University (64,000 students) and engaging students for the truth claims of the Biblical worldview. I did hundreds of surveys with students and certainly begin to see some of the objections people had to the Christian faith. Around 2006 I moved away from the survey approach and started using a variety of approaches to reach out to the students here. Anyway, it was 2009 when myself along with some  students at The Ohio State University planted a Ratio Christi chapter on the campus. This was done out of the necessity for a stronger apologetics presence on the campus.

Since we planted the chapter, we have had some very well-known speakers come such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Bart Ehrman and Michael Brown, Michael Licona,  Paul Nelson. Michael Strauss and James Warner Wallace. We have also had some student debates with the skeptic group on the campus. We have  been endorsed by James Warner Wallace here:

““Eric Chabot and the team at The Ohio State University is doing amazing work. If you are interested in becoming a good Christian Case Maker, I highly recommend joining Eric and the entire team at the Ohio State campus” – Jim Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity

We have also partnered with other campus ministries on debates. Since then, we have planted another Ratio Christi chapter at Columbus State Community College (30,000 students). So now we are attempting to be the only apologetics ministry on both of these campuses.

Columbus State is kind of unique in that it has hundreds of Muslims students. After all, Columbus, Ohio has the second highest Somali population in the city. I have included some pics of myself and our team speaking to various Muslim students here.

Anyway, I wanted to go ahead and share some of the trends and objections that I have seen on the campus over the last several years. Keep in mind that Ohio State is a very large campus (64,000) students. So what is it like to try to do an apologetics ministry on a major college campus? Here are some common questions that I tend to get asked:

#1: What kind of objections do you tend to hear on a large college campus?

I list some of the objections here.

To see one of the most common objections, see this post. 

#2:  Do college students know what apologetics is?

Some do while others have no idea what apologetics is.  I can recall several times being out on the campus sharing my faith with our table talking to students about the Gospel and our apologetics ministry at the campus. More than one student has said “So what is apologetics?”  So in many cases we are always explaining the role of apologetics.  Once I ask students if they ever heard any tough objections to their faith on the campus or in the classroom, the light bulb goes off.  We educate and exhort people to learn to articulate and defend their faith.  Also, at just about any of our apologetic events where we have Frank Turek or another speaker come, many students have told us they have never heard anything like that before. That also goes for Christians that were raised in churches. NOTE:  I have a clip from a ways back here where I am talking to a student about the need for apologetics campus. 

#3; Do you have weekly meetings on the campus? 

Yes, since 2009, we have had weekly apologetic meetings on the campus. We meet about 34-36 meetings a year. That means we have a lot of topics to cover. I have posted some of our clips/teachings on our you tube channel. Here is pic from one of our meetings when we had a former atheist speak.

#4:   What About  the Challenge of Post Modernism?

We have experienced some challenges with postmodernism on the campus. I also see alot of pragmatism, mysticism, etc. Also, take a look at the following clips and tell me if the objections you hear here sound more modern or post-modern to you.

 

#5: How do you know what  speakers to bring to the campus?

This can be a challenge. First, we have to think about what speakers are a good match for the campus. Is the speaker a good speaker? Do they connect with students? Are they difficult to understand? Are they really an authority on a particular topic? What will be a title for an event that will grab people’s attention? What is the cost of the speaker? Let me give an example: I brought William Lane Craig to the campus a several years back. He did a lecture on seven reasons for the existence of God. Some students said it was great. Others said it was too much information. Others said he was over their heads.  The next year I brought in Frank Turek.  Many students enjoyed Frank. Of course, the atheists didn’t like him. But that is no shock! The other challenge to bringing a speaker to the campus is that we have to work hard at promoting an event. This includes flyers, social media, word of mouth, etc. I recall one time when I was out promoting the Turek event on campus. A student walked up to me and said they were offended by the title ( I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist). That’s  no shock at all.

#6: Do you see results from this kind of ministry?

People always ask me about the results of doing campus ministry. They tend to think if you show up, share the Good News, in five minutes, the person understands it and comes to faith. Those days are long gone!  Outreach is a process and, in many cases, (especially on a college campus) it takes multiple discussions. Also, God is much more interested in faithfulness than results. Just read the beginning of Ezekiel where God told Ezekiel his audience wouldn’t listen to him. But he wants Ezekiel to take the message to the people.  Most of us would say to God “Well, what’s the point?” But it shows God is much more interested in our obedience. But in an American culture that wants instant results, this is foreign to us. We also don’t get to go where the soil isn’t hard (see the Parable of the Sower in Matt 13).

We exist to strengthen the faith of Christians and help others see there are Christians that do care about the “what’”and “why” of what we believe. We also want to Christians confident in their witness to others. We have some testimonies here.

Feel free to watch some our speakers from the events we have had here:

Frank Turek, author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith To An Athesist ’s Exchange with Jewish Atheist on the Hell Question

Michael Licona lecturing on the Resurrection of Jesus

Michael Brown lecturing on whether Jesus is the Jewish Messiah

Does The Bible Provide an Adequate Answer to Suffering? Dr. Michael Brown vs Dr. Bart Ehrman

William Lane Craig answering questions at our Ohio State Event

Paul Nelson lecturing on whether we can detect design in the natural sciences

Michael Licona and Larry Shapiro debate at The Ohio State University 

Michael Strauss Lecturing on God and Science

#7: “What are some of the challenges of directing an apologetics ministry on college campuses?”

There are always challenges. First, because college students do graduate, we always have to look for new students who have a calling to this type of ministry. They are out there. But we have to keep our eyes open and we always have to think about the future. Second, students are busy. Many of them have plenty of studies, they  have to work, and they also might be involved in a church on campus. Third, as an apologist, one must always be learning and keeping up with the latest information. Given apologetics crosses over into so many fields, this takes hard work. Obviously, we can’t know everything. But we must constantly be sharpening our skills. Fourth, the key is to be faithful and leave the results to God. That is in ongoing process.

#8: “How can people help with this type of ministry?” 

I do this full time. So if anyone wants to partner with us, they can go this page here and do that.  We also look for people to partner with us in events. That is a big help as well.

#9: “Do you have to be a student to be involved with these ministries?” 

No. We have volunteers who are not students. Anyone is welcome to participate in our outreach, events, and meetings on campus.

 

 

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