On occasion, I have people tell me that they would like to get involved doing apologetics ministry but they don’t know where to begin. In starting out on such an endeavor, it’s vital to make sure you are well grounded in the faith, know your Bible confidently, that you genuinely love people, and have ample amounts of patience. It would also be wise to evaluate what topics (faiths etc) you’re most interested in. And most of all, pray that God gives you an earnest desire to pursue the people you’re trying to reach, with sincere humility. Without the aforementioned, our knowledge and research will be of limited importance.
Once we have decided what topic/s we want to research, it’s a good idea to start buying and reading the books that will help us learn what we need to know. Reading blogs (like this one, of course), websites, watching videos etc will help you learn, but in my opinion, there’s nothing like reading a good ol’ book that inspires you. Best of all, the batteries don’t run out on them, well, hopefully. I see a common mistake (well I’ll call it that) with people when they do their research. They usually buy/read books that are only from authors who are “on their team”, but to do balanced research, it would do you well to read both sides of a view. When I’m doing research, say Islam, I try to think in the mind of a Muslim and how they view Christians, our doctrines, and faith as whole. In doing so, it helps me find common ground with them. If I want to know what a Muslim believes, I read the Qur’an or the Hadiths. If one were to read books about Islam from only non Muslims, they may not get the full scope of how they think or what they believe. Even Paul -and the early Christians- were well versed in the beliefs of those they were having dialogue with. With that, it’s apparent that they had studied their material to some extent (and spent time with them) in order to speak at their level. Subsequently, the pagans to whom Paul spoke with, viewed him as a credible source that knew what he was talking about.
I do understand the objection that one may not want to financially support the person of a contrary worldview by buying their books, and if that is you, you can always borrow them from your local library or even download some for free from various online libraries. However, If you’re like me and that doesn’t bother you -after all just about anything we buy in day to day life is from someone of another paradigm- then do your research, and make sure to purchase the best books (meaning the most accurate representation of beliefs/doctrines) from those of a particular worldview. If you can, get a hold of their holy books for you to reference later. It would be counterproductive to read a book that has scores of misrepresentations. This won’t help you address your subject/s in a fair manner. Happy reading!