Competitive apologetics is a popular speech event at homeschool tournaments. Competitors gather and are assigned specific apologetics prompts from which they prepare a limited-preparation speech. When you enter a competition, you will be given three prompts from which to choose one, and you will draw from your preparation you did in your homeschool or speech club to prepare an impromptu speech. You are given four minutes to prepare a six-minute speech, so naturally you will want to be “prepared to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15).
There is a three-step process you will prepare for competition:
- Individual Preparation. Study the topics and arrange notecards with notes for your preparation.
- Box Organization. Arrange your notecards for quick access during speech rounds.
- Tournament Competition. You will be given three questions from which to choose one to speak on. Your preparation prior to the tournament pays off in how well you do.
This is where your Monument Membership comes in. Your Monument Membership is used in the first two steps of this process, giving you “source material” from which to launch your study. The source material was collected by champions in apologetics themselves, so you will be modeling the best apologetics speakers.
You will become familiar with three types of apologetics prompts:
- You will be asked to explain the meaning and significance of a particular apologetics word or phrase (e.g. “the trinity” or “divine inspiration”).
- General Questions. You will be asked questions of faith or doctrine that challenge you to defend your beliefs (e.g. “Is the Old Testament a reliable historical document?”).
- Statement Analysis. You will be tasked to respond to particular statements, usually statements that challenge the Christian faith (e.g. “Analyze and respond to the statement, ‘As an atheist, I don’t believe there is a God”).
There are two leagues that offer apologetics — NCFCA and Stoa — and both have 100 prompts each. Many of the prompts overlap and are covered together in your Monument Membership, but other prompts are unique to the individual league. If you compete in both leagues, expect to study approximately 130 unique prompts. This may seem like too much, but when you develop a habit of studying individual prompts over a course of time, you will be able to pace yourself and follow a path to successful competition.
How to Use Your Monument Membership
All apologetics prompts are listed at the beginning of your Monument Membership year. Your membership will then release a handful of topics for you every week to help you prepare for your first tournament. Ultimately, the questions are organized to help you pace yourself through all the categories in 20 steps. Look at your calendar. When is your first tournament? Take 20 paces back and start studying. You should be ready for competition.
At Monument we often train our debaters to “let the research guide you.” The same is true for apologetics. In a foundational way all apologetics should start with the “foundation,” the Bible. Your study then delves into quotations from popular resources, particularly quotations or recommendations for further reading. Your research concludes with a commentary from a previous competitor of apologetics, a final thought in your individual study of the apologetics prompt.
In the end you should have a thorough understanding of all the apologetics prompts. Come tournament time, you will be “prepared to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15), which is the whole point of competing in apologetics.