How to Be a “One Dollar Apologist” (What I Learn Each Year at CIA)

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How to Be a One Dollar Apologist What I Learned This Year at CIA copyWe are less than a month away from the CrossExamined Instructor’s Academy (CIA) in Dallas, Texas. CIA is an intense three-day program that teaches students how to present the case for Christianity. Students spend three days learning how to present the case for truth, God, miracles and the New Testament. They make their own presentations and learn how to answer questions about these topics in a hostile environment. I participate each year as an instructor, along with folks like Frank Turek, Greg Koukl, Richard Howe, Brett Kunkle, Sean McDowell, and Bobby Conway. It is a powerful (and busy) three days, and I highly commend the experience to anyone who is serving the Christian community as a Case Maker and wants to become better at their craft.

I often try to remind people: The impact of a single “million dollar apologist” will not change our culture as powerfully as the impact of a million “one dollar apologists”. Many of you have resonated with that idea (and the resulting term) and some of you have even taken me up on the proposal. Each year, my experience at CIA provides a number of insights on how all of us can become better “one dollar apologists”:

You Don’t Need to Be a “Vocational Apologist” to Have a Powerful Impact
CIA is filled with students from nearly every walk of life. We have a few pastors, but most of the students are employed in non-Christian environments. We have teachers, engineers, moms, veterinarians, business men, and laborers. I feel right at home. I’ve never been a vocational apologist, and I continue to derive my income from my career as a detective. You’d be amazed at the impact you can have, even without leading a non-profit ministry, working at a church or becoming a well-known public figure. God uses each of us on the basis of our individual life experiences. There are people out there who need to hear your voice. You can reach them better than anyone else, including the people you think of as “million dollar apologists”.

You Must Learn to “Bloom Where You Are Planted” to Have an Immediate Impact
CIA is also a great reminder that powerful ministry begins in your own backyard. Greg Koukl likes to say each of us must “bloom where we are planted”. Every nationally recognized Christian Case Maker I know began by serving in the small context of his or her own local community or church. While there are a number of ways each of us can serve in our individual settings, I personally encouraged the students of CIA to jump in with their local youth pastors and volunteer to lead a small group or teach a short series. I believe there is a dire need in every church to reach young people with the truth and answer their questions, and all of us can get in the game. Every student at CIA is equipped to make a powerful difference in their world; the world that begins just outside their front door in the context of their own spheres of influence.

You Need to Be a “Life-Time Learner” to Have Meaningful Impact
As an instructor at CIA, I am always reminded about the importance of continued training. When you are surrounded by smart people, you realize just how much you don’t know and how God needs all of us, as a team, to bring out the best of us individually. Whether we like it or not, we must be committed to learning on a daily basis. The students of CIA are incredibly gracious. Many of them are older folks who are smart, experienced and capable. Yet they graciously submit to the instruction of the instructors with an amazing eagerness and desire to learn. I find myself asking the question: Am I still that gracious and excited to learn? I am  certainly surrounded by other instructors who know a lot more than I do. CIA reminds me of the simple truth: Good teachers are good learners. Start today. Research on-line, build your own apologetics library, listen to podcasts, find an apologetics certificate program, enroll in CIA; become an eager student.

As we end each training session at CIA, students and instructors linger for over an hour, talking and affirming our relationship with, and commitment to, one another and the cause of Christ. Sometimes these kinds of events are “mountain-top experiences” that motivate us and encourage us in the “here and now”. The danger, of course, is that we will step back into our lives and let the “busyness” of our routines overtake our temporarily heightened enthusiasm. So let me encourage those of you who are reading this to retain your passion and calling. Remember: You can have incredible impact on your world as a Case Maker, even as you work and raise your families. Bloom where you are planted and continue to be an eager learner. Together, a million one dollar apologists can change the course of history.

J.Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, Christian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith.

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