I didn’t post much content this past month because I was preparing in earnest for a tournament. On January 3-5, I competed in the 2013 NCFCA National Open. The tournament went phenomenally well for me in all of my categories, but you would be most interested in the fact that I placed 2nd in Apologetics speaking (out of about 125), earning one of two prequalifying slots straight to the NCFCA National Championship.
My experience at the tournament reconfirmed four aspects of my personal beliefs about Apologetics.
1. My System Works.
Here are the five topics I drew (in order through the three prelims, semis and finals).
“Analyze and respond to the statement, ‘The Bible is no different from any other holy book.'” –Anonymous
“Analyze and respond to the statement, “I don’t need to go to church. I can worship God wherever I am.” –Anonymous
“Analyze and respond to the statement, ‘Jesus was a good man and a good teacher but certainly not the Son of God.'” –Anonymous
“How can God be both merciful and just?”
“What is the essential duty of man?”
Every one of those five topics is included in one of the 25 concepts in my Conceptual Organizational System. I had a complete card on every one, and you can too. When you have to write 25 cards instead of 100+, it’s amazing what you can cover.
2. Passion is Essential.
One of the most common points of feedback from this tournament was that the judges appreciated my passion. I received comments such as:
“Effective delivery with ‘speaking from the heart.'”
“Very good passion.”
“Love the passion! … Your face lit up when you quoted 2 Cor. 5:21.” [One of my absolute favorite verses.]
Delivering your speech in a boring monotone simply isn’t an option. But more than just having some vocal variety, true passion is indispensable. The judges should be able to see that you genuinely care about your topic. And you should! In Apologetics, you get to talk about how glorious God is, how depraved we are, how graciously the Father sent His Son, and how blessed we are if we are in Christ! There is no message more worthy of passion! When you write your cards, include your favorite verses and include aspects of the topic you can get passionate about. You shouldn’t be continuously over-the-top, but you should demonstrate a sincere enthusiasm for your topic.
3. Content is Key.
Genesis 1:1, John 3:16, and Romans 3:23 can only go so far. At some point, you need to get beyond basic generic research and find specific content for specific topics. That’s what my system allows you to do–because you only need to write 25 cards, you can devote more effort to each one and be sure to find excellent content.
Notice that every prelim topic listed above is an “Analyze and Respond” topic–generally regarded as being the most difficult topics. When you only have to write 25 full cards, you have the time to put more work into each one. Taking on these “difficult” topics is within your grasp.
4. Have fun!
At the end of the day, you have to love Apologetics speaking. I’m convinced that if you don’t like a speech category you will never succeed in it. You need to look forward to each round.
Apologetics is my favorite speaking event. I love all five of my categories, but if I had to compete in only one (heaven forbid!) I would choose Apologetics. While it doesn’t have to be your favorite, you shouldn’t dread it. And why would you? With a solid organizational system, excellent content, and passion for your topic, you’re set up for success. And here’s the best part: your success now is only the beginning of the benefits you’ll begin to reap from your refined speaking skills and increased Biblical knowledge.
I have only a few tournaments left in my career–I plan to make the most of them. And whether you attend one more tournament or twenty more tournaments throughout your career, working on these four aspects of Apologetics speaking will yield drastic benefits–you’ll do well and have a ton of fun.