Typical Card Outline

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  • Attention Grabber - A story or quote to grab the listeners' attention and support your topic. Be careful not to pick an opener that doesn't apply to your speech.
  • Thesis - Simply a sentence that sums up your position on the topic. Sometimes the word "thesis" is intimidating and hard to understand, but it is simply stating the direction you are going to take within your speech or giving a definition. For example, a thesis for the Sin Nature definition card could sound something like this: "The sin nature is the inbred nature of every man that leads him in rebellion against God." (Notice: It is just on sentence about what I believe the sin nature to be.)
  • Topic - State the topic you have chosen. This is a must! If the judges don't hear the topic, they will be distracted during the speech and possible a little lost. But more than that, they could potentially mark you down a rank for failing to state the topic.
  • Roadmap - Mapping out the points you are about to cover. For instance: "To further explain the Sin Nature, we'll first look at 1) where it came from, 2) the consequences, and 3) the significance.
  • Points - You will transition into your points to build upon your thesis and further explain your topic. Support your points and position with outside quotes (i.e. C.S. Lewis, John Piper, Wayne Grudem...) and scripture. One or two quotes or scripture is enough for one point. After your read through an outside source, analyze it to clarify the meaning of it to your judge. Those judging you will be looking for that.
  • Re-roadmap - Restate the points you covered. But state them in a different way, to add variety to your speech.
  • Restate Thesis - This is optional. But to make things clearer for the judge, you can restate your position.
  • Crushing Blow - A quote or verse to sum up your speech and leave them with final impact.

Note: This is optional. You can be flexible with how you prepare your speech.



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Jubilee, Peter, and myself had decided on going witnessing at a large mall one Sunday afternoon, little did I know what awaited me.
For most of the time the witnessing had been fairly normal, people were normally indifferent, but not hostile. Caring little to them we were just a way to pass time. The time to witness, was about over, for some of us had a ways to go home, when I spotted Luke and Amy. A teenage couple of about 16, sitting on some benches near a gumball machine of mythic proportions. After making way over, and stumbling through small talk the night began in earnest. It wasn't that Luke and Amy were hostile, much more dangerous to their souls they were curious.
In under two minutes Luke asked the question, "why would a loving God create hell? (Cat. 3 GQ 7) Instantly I flipped to my mental rolodex of apologetic cards. It is necessary here to digress to explain that I participated in apologetics in its inaugural year, and the one following. But since then I've half worked as a 'critiquer' at my parents apologetic study group they host. That understood, allow me to resume. When my mind settled on why God created hell two things happened. First, I didn't panic because I had an answer, second, I found my answer unsatisfactory. Maybe your answer is something like mine was, "God created hell because He had to be just, and for Him to be just there has to be punishment for all sinners." It sounds good coming out in front of fathers, elders, and church men. But in front of a 16 year old boy who only sees sin as the type of people who kill, rape, and abuse children, it doesn't work. Accordingly I found myself going wider to explain sin from God's perspective so that Luke could see his actions as rebellion against God.
Without my apologetic card God still would have been sovereign; but I would not have been able to bring truth to mind with scriptures. Even though my arrogance when I wrote the card didn't adjust for real life, it still served me in a time of need.
Oh, but the evening had just begun, the next two hours were roller coaster of apologetic cards, all over the map, from questions about God, who He is, what is justice, what is sin, why do we have sin nature, why... Luke and Amy parted with me on friendly terms, my feeling like I'd just talked my way out of a firing squad, Luke with things to think about. God knows the result, but I can tell you, apologetics gave me a base from which the Holy Spirit could work, as well as learning place from which to discover how much I have to learn.
Accordingly, in your year of apologetics practice humility and try to understand where the question is coming from, and second of all, persevere. At times your brain will want to quit because it can't think of an attention grabber, but know that the truths you are defending are worth treasuring in your heart, worth the diligence it takes to compose them into clear and concise thoughts on paper. Pray, and write on...


Tips to Starting Apologetics

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Starting Apologetics for the the first time can be overwhelming. There are so many topics, so much to learn, and it feels like so little time. Although that is mostly true, you can approach the year with enthusiasm. Here's how...

1) Pray
  • There is nothing better than prayer. Relying on God for strength to write cards and wisdom on how to write them will relieve you of much worry. Apologetics is about God, if you ask Him, He will help you make His name great.
2) Start with what you know.
  • Most of you probably have an idea what the Grace of God is, considering it has changed your life. Since you already have a foundation for what it is and probably what verses apply, then start by writing that card. Beginning with something you are already familiar with will give you good practice in formatting your speeches.
3) Tackle Definitions first.
  • Writing cards for the definitions of each category is a great way to start compiling your box. Most of them are easier to understand and outline than statement analysis' or general questions. By completing the definitions, you will have a good foundation for writing the others.
4) Cross apply cards.
  • A lot of cards are similar in nature. Either the topics are alike, or quotes and verses can be used again. When this is the case, it is helpful to write the card that is similar to the other. By cross applying the research that you have done, and possibly the outline, you can save time. Maybe even write two at once, with the same material.
5) Pray
  • Digging into God's word and getting to know Him better can never take too much prayer. Neither can writing a speech on what you learned. Throughout the whole speech season-before, during, and after you write a card, pray. Ask God to fill you with Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. And pursue Him with your whole heart!
"It is the small knot of friends who turn their backs on the world who really transform it."
C. S. Lewis


How to Write a Card

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(Thanks to Sono Harris and Gini Winslow for some of their tips.)

Research and study the topic. (i.e. Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, Bible)
  • Bookmark or make note of the key quotes and verses that apply.
2. Find or write out a definition or formulate a thesis statement (depending on the topic).
  • A thesis statement is simply a sentence or two summing up your opinion of the topic.
3. Decide what you want to say and how you want to say it. You can't say everything in 6 minutes, so choose what you consider the 2-3 key points.

4. Go back to selected quotes and scriptures, choosing the ones that best support your points.
  • Scriptures and quotes help you say what you're trying to say with more authority.
5. Outline your card. (According to NCFCA rules, card size must be 3x5" to 4x6")

Example Card:

Definition or Thesis
Point 1
Point 2
Point 3
Re-road map


A Testimony of Apologetics

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