It’s almost time for the students to return at my school, and the teacher have already started preparing. We reported last week for orientation and today we began training. To kick off our week of training we started with emergency procedures including preparation for fires, earthquakes, chemical spills, bombs, and active shooters. We went over many different types of emergencies and were trained on how to respond in each circumstance. As I was listening to the presentations from both our administration and the sheriff, I began to see many similarities between what we were learning and training in apologetics. Now I’m not saying that having an apologetic discussion with someone relates to the horrible situation of an active shooter, but I do think there is a similar foundation in the reason that we train and prepare.
I remember growing up in school and frequently performing fire drills. We didn’t wait until after their was a fire to start the drills. Instead, we did them because we knew that a fire was possible and we needed to be ready. In the same way, studying apologetics prepares us to be ready to make a case for the Christian faith even though we may never have to. It is best to prepare and be ready for it to happen so that we can minimize the damage. If we wait to prepare ourselves until the event finally happens, then it may be too late. Here are a few words of advice that were shared with us today.
Knowledge, Not Emotions
One of the first things we were told is that in an emergency our emotions could take over and cause us to make bad decisions. They said that in times of crisis, we need to rely on our knowledge instead of our emotions. Emotion can lead us astray. Knowledge helps us know what is right, but in order to have knowledge we have to prepare and learn.
I have spent a lot of time with Mormons lately. Most of them return to their feelings when you begin to ask about certain beliefs. The problem is that feelings can cause us to make bad decisions. We instead have to rely on our knowledge of what is true rather than just our emotions.
Take drills seriously
It is easy to become complacent when we are doing drills at school. We are told when the drill will take place, so when the alarm goes off, we grab the papers and escort students to the proper area. At times, this seems more like a hassle that class has been interrupted because we sometimes forget that fires are a real possibility, or we refuse to think that something like that would ever happen to us. In these times we have to remember that the real thing could happen at any moment, and for that reason we need to take the drills seriously. Being lazy now will increase our chances of making a big mistake in case of an emergency.
In the same way, we need to take the command in scripture to always be ready to make a defense seriously. We have to take seriously the command to go out and preach the Gospel. We even have people come to our doors that want to talk to us! Are we really taking those commands seriously so that we are ready the next time a Mormon or JW comes to your door? Are you training and preparing yourself as if it might happen soon, or do we assume that it will never happen and not take things seriously. This lazy approach may have serious consequences in the day that the real conversation occurs.
Training reduces fear
It is normal to panic and become fearful in a time of crisis. For this reason, we as teachers are trained on how to remain calm and help students during these times. The easiest way to remain calm in these situations is to train well and know that you were prepared.
I remember the first time I did my atheist role-play at a youth group. When I presented the first reason why I was not a Christian a young girl calmly raised her hand and responded to my objection. Their youth pastor had covered that issue the previous meeting and so she was confident in giving a response. When I quickly moved on to other objection the students became fearful and started doubting their faith. Yes, it happened that quickly. Proper training in that area greatly reduced their fear.
I also saw this play out in my recent mission trip to Utah. I don’t know very many students or even adults that feel confident talking to Mormons when they show up at the door. It is even more rare to be confident approaching them at Temple Square in Salt Lake City or BYU. However, the students on the trip spent months preparing, reading theology, and even reading the Book of Mormon. When they were presented with reasons why Mormonism was true and asked questions about their faith, they were able to confidently respond instead of being afraid that they might ask a question that they don’t know the answer to. Many Christians I meet are fearful that they will be asked a question they don’t know the answer to. Training and preparation reduces fear.
Awareness + Action = Prevention
We were presented with this equation towards the end of the sheriff’s presentation. He shared that in order to better prevent the risk of an active shooter on campus, we need to be aware that that kind of situation is possible and then take action to prepare ourselves. There is no way to stop the threat completely, but ignoring the fact that it is a possibility is not going to help. It also doesn’t help when we know that it is possible but don’t do anything to stop it. We have to take action!
As easy as this is to understand, we don’t do a very good job at in within Christianity. We are seeing a culture turning away from traditional Christian values and we are seeing many youth abandoning the church. Some choose to blind themselves to the issues and think things will just get better on their own, but it isn’t helping. Ignorance ≠ prevention. Others are aware of what is happening yet refuse to change. Awareness ≠ prevention. If we want to better prevent youth from abandoning the church then we need to be aware that it is a serious issue and we need to take action against it. This isn’t completely solved with apologetics, but it is a big aspect when students are questioning their faith. Awareness + Action = Prevention. Are we taking action in an effort to prevent more tragedy?
Lives are in our hands
The reason why teachers should take these drills so seriously is because we know that the lives of our students are in our hands. It is easy to get lazy when we think it will never happen to us like I mentioned before, but when we remember that lives are on the line, we should get that motivation back to work hard. If there is an active shooter on campus and I am panicking rather than going through the procedure, I put the lives of my students in danger. My responsibility to my students, and the fact that I care about them, is the reason I take these drills seriously.
The same should be true in evangelism and apologetics. The lives of the lost are in our hands. I’m not saying that we are responsible for saving people, but God chooses to use us in that great work! I remember the first few times I turned away Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses from my door because I wasn’t interested or too busy. However, when I realized that God calls us to evangelize and I had people standing at my door that were lost, my heart broke for them! Here are people that have been greatly discieved by their church and I have the opportunity to share the true Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, what a privilege! Their lives are in our hands and so we should take the act of preparation seriously if we want to make a difference. If your goal is to save lives, and someones life is at stake, what is preventing you from preparing well?
We can’t rely on someone else to do all the work for us. We sometimes have to motivate ourselves. So, I will leave you with the final question that the sheriff left our staff. What are you going to do to train yourself?