I sometimes encounter resistance by pastors about the value of apologetics. I have also heard from laypeople who have had negative experiences talking to their pastors about apologetics.
I would like to argue that not only is apologetics compatible with pastoral ministry, it is essential to pastoral ministry.
That may sound like a bold statement but stick with me. The most common title for clergy is that of pastor (at least within protestant traditions). What is a pastor? The basic meaning of a pastor is not one who performs religious services but that of a shepherd. As a profession, ministers have adopted the shepherd as the primary image for what we do.
What does a shepherd do? I would think that a large portion of a shepherd’s work is taking care of the sheep’s needs. The shepherd needs to make sure that there is enough food and water for the sheep to not just survive but to thrive.
In pastoral ministry, that would equate to the roles of Bible teaching, worship leading, prayer, visitation and so on. We can see how the shepherd/pastor is a good image for the work of a church minister.
But what else does a shepherd do? Just as important as taking care of the sheep’s needs is protection from predators. I had a sheep farmer in my previous church. He told me that he often found himself in the barn with a rifle protecting the sheep from coyotes. David, before going against Goliath, presented this experience to King Saul:
Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. (1 Samuel 17:34-35)
I would like to ask pastors if there are predators who are going after our people. If there are none, then feel free to ignore this. But I have heard of numerous people who have left the faith after reading books by Bart Ehrman. Richard Dawkins openly states that his intention is de-convert people in churches.
See this post comparing Bart Ehrman and Richard Dawkins.
There are plenty of other sources of doubt beyond these two individuals. Countless documentaries, blogs, websites and traveling speakers attack the truth of Christianity on a daily basis.
What if the pastor is just not into apologetics? I would respond by saying, what if a shepherd is just not into protecting the sheep from wolves and coyotes? These roles do not seem to lend themselves to picking a choosing preferences.
I talk more on this subject in this video.
If you are a pastor and do not feel equipped in the area of apologetics, I would encourage you to take advantage of the many apologetics resources available today.