Defending The Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry
Mary Jo Sharp, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids Michigan 2012
Why Do You Believe That? A Faith Conversation
Mary Jo Sharp, Lifeway Press, Nashville Tennessee 2012
When my ministry partner, Greg Koukl first interviewed Mary Jo Sharp on the Stand To Reason radio show, he described her as a “strange bird”. Doesn’t sound like much of an introduction for a Christian Case Maker, does it? But Greg was trying to make a point about the rarity of women apologists on the Christian landscape. If you’re interested in apologetics, you’ve probably already noticed the conspicuous lack of women in this field. Why is this the case? Is it a lack of interest or understanding on the part of women’s ministries? Maybe. Is it a lack of resources that are specifically designed for women? Could be. Enter Mary Jo Sharp.
Mary Jo burst onto the case-making scene several years ago when she grew her Two Chix Apologetics Facebook page into ConfidentChristianity.com and began speaking around the country. After a few key debates and conference appearances, Mary Jo is now channeling her energy with a directed effort to encourage and train women to become Christian Case Makers. Mary Jo has two new books, Defending The Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry and Why Do You Believe That? A Faith Conversation; together they form a powerful set of resources that will help train and integrate apologetics into women’s ministry.
Defending The Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry is a succinct, readable six-chapter book that seeks a new model for women’s ministry “that addresses the basic need of women to know the truth about God and thus to trust Him: the study of apologetics specifically for women so that they can learn the truth about God, believe in Him, and live out their faith through their actions.” Mary Jo follows this outline carefully, utilizing personal stories (her background as an atheist growing up in a “Portland, Oregon, where there is not a church on every corner,” was particularly interesting to me) and illustrations from her adventures as a speaker to help readers understand the importance of Christian case making and the impact it can have on our behavior as Christians. Mary Jo then does something even more important (in my view) as she provides her readers with two chapters, “What You Can Do Right Now” and “What You Can Do In Women’s Ministry”. More than just a general encouragement, Defending The Faith, provides readers with a plan of action.
Why Do You Believe That? A Faith Conversation then seeks to continue this effort by providing a comprehensive introductory apologetics Bible study that is a perfect “first step” for any women’s group that wants to take Mary Jo up on her call to action. Mary Jo’s curriculum is detailed and robust; it would be valuable to any group within the Church. Drawing upon Mary Jo’s years of experience in Women’s Ministry, the curriculum engages the reader in an interactive conversation even as it teaches students how to engage the world around them in “faith conversations” of their own. Mary Jo begins by examining the definition and nature of “apologetics” and defining key beliefs related to the nature of Jesus. She then spends the next four weeks examining and teaching key principles of communication, from important listening and questioning skills, to valuable tactical response skills. The curriculum includes several unique features. Each week begins with a group lesson (video introductions are available for online download to assist each presentation), followed by a daily self-directed study that explores key concepts in detail. Additional terms and concepts are explored in breakout boxes throughout the text and each weekly set of lessons also includes a “Confidence Builder” suggestion that will encourage students to stretch out of their comfort zone. The book includes plenty of room for student responses and note taking and Mary Jo also included the leader guide within the text as an appendix.
Mary Jo has been speaking around the country for several years now, often in Women’s ministries, encouraging women to engage Christian Case Making as a way of life. She’s now provided the Christian community with two valuable resources that will demonstrate the importance of apologetics in Women’s ministry and provide a path forward for those who want to accept the challenge to become effective Christian Case Makers.