How Can You Make a Career in Apologetics?
We live in a golden age of apologetics. There are more books, curricula, blogs, conferences, academic programs, and people interested in apologetics than ever before. As my friend (and boss) Craig Hazen says, “Apologetics is a growth industry.”
Part of the vision of our Biola M.A. Christian Apologetics program is to train apologists to be a resource for the local church. In fact, our dream is that churches would consider the need for a “Pastor or Apologetics” as important as a men’s ministry leader or a youth pastor. Until this dream becomes a reality, here’s a few ways to make a career in apologetics (If you think I have missed any, please let me know):
1. Professor of Apologetics. There are a growing number of academic programs offering degrees in apologetics, such as Oklahoma Wesleyan, Liberty, Houston Baptist, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. While there is need for qualified and articulate apologists to teach at the college level and beyond, these positions are few and far between. If you want to be an apologetics professor, it’s important to find a way to set yourself apart from the crowd with either your professional expertise or platform.
2. Ratio Christi. Ratio Christi is a growing ministry that aims to place apologists on college campuses around the world. The goal is to equip Christian students and faculty with the resources and relationships to live out their faith on the college campus, and also to engage non-believers with evidences for the faith. If you have apologetics skill, a pastoral heart, and a willingness to raise support, Ratio Christi could be a fantastic fit for you.
3. Author. There will always be need for quality apologetics books. The key for an effective apologetics book (and really any book) is not so much to say new things, but to say the important things in a fresh, unique way. Lee Strobel and J. Warner Wallace have excelled at this. While they are not primarily making new arguments in their books, they both write from personal experience (as a journalist and cold case detective, respectively) bringing unique stories and insights to apologetics. If you want to succeed as an author, you need a platform to sell books and a unique approach that motivates people to purchase and read your book(s). To be honest, this is difficult to do.
4. Blogger. The power of blogging is that anyone can do it. If you are willing to commit the time and effort, blogging is a powerful means of disseminating ideas. The down side is that it’s very difficult to make enough money blogging to do it full-time as a professional. Most bloggers have another job on the side. But if you’re a natural and disciplined writer, go for it.
5. Speaker. There is always need for qualified, dynamic apologetics speakers. There are many opportunities to speak at churches, camps, conferences, universities, schools, and other events worldwide. There are a few organizations, such as Ravi Zacharias Ministries and Stand to Reason, who have full-time speakers. If you want to be an apologetics speaker, you need to set yourself apart as an effective communicator who has command of the subject and something fresh to say (and, of course, Christian character). If you want to be an apologetics speaker, here are some questions to consider: What is my unique voice? What message do I have that people need to hear? What is my training or experience that enables me to speak with authority? What sets me apart as a communicator? What unique stories do I have to tell?
6.Christian School Teacher. Before accepting a teaching position at Biola University, I taught theology and apologetics full-time at a private Christian school in southern California. Since teaching high school involves grading and disciplining students, it is very different than writing or speaking. But it is a valuable way to help Christian students think deeply about their faith, and also to critically engage non-Christian students (I had many atheist, Buddhist, and Muslim students in my classes). If you want to teach at a Christian school, you will need both apologetics/theology knowledge (an undergraduate degree or M.A. is probably sufficient) as well as training as a classroom teacher.
Of course, there are many other ways to effectively do apologetics, such as through radio, podcasts, and research. The difficulty is finding a way to monetize these efforts so you can survive financially.
If being a full time apologist is not an option (or desire) for you, then you might consider the model of some people who do it part-time. For instance, Bobby Conway, the “One Minute Apologist,” is both an author and full-time senior pastor. Although he conceals his identity, the Wintery Knight has a full-time job outside of his apologetics ministry. And my friend Dan Grossenbach, a police detective, plans apologetics events, blogs at Apologetic Junkie, and teaches apologetics at his local church.
Here’s the bottom line: There are certainly a few opportunities for full time apologists. And there are also ways to do apologetics part-time. Neither is more important than the other, and the church desperately needs both. The question is, given our unique experiences, abilities, and interests, how can we each make a contribution?
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.