It was a brutally hot day in the summer of 2005. I was at Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Parris Island, SC getting ready for a milestone in the life of a Marine recruit, the rifle range. It was a time of anticipation and anxiety for many reasons. First, we had spent hundreds of hours drilling with rifles, cleaning rifles, assembling and disassembling rifles, but not firing rifles; this was an opportunity to become a qualified marksman for the Marine Corps. Second, if you failed at the end of the week you were rolled back in training, which meant you would not graduate on time. Third, it was another competition that contributed to honor platoon point. However, before we could fire, we had to go through the process of “snapping in,” which is a teaching mechanism that simulates the multiple positions (prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing) used by Marines during rifle qualification by essentially aiming at a barrel with target points on it. This happened for what seemed like hours upon hours.
What if this was the end of our training? What if there was no rifle qualification? What would be the result? The result would be a multitude of Marines who understood the teaching but never actually trained. There is a significant difference between Marines being taught how to shoot a rifle and the actual experience of shooting, reloading, adjusting to different positions all within a given timeframe. The teaching doesn’t simulate the full scope of all that rifle qualification is and therefore, without it can only produce a deficient Marine marksman.
The same is true when it comes to how we train members of the Church. We can talk all day about what it means to evangelize the lost. We can have seminars about tactics, classes about the importance, and sermons about the ultimate destination of the lost. Until we actually train in the area, via practical application, we make deficient evangelist and apologists. Here are two practical ways to engage in reaching the lost:
- Ask people a spiritual question as a conversation starter. One question which most people will answer is, what are your thoughts about life after death? Who doesn’t have a thought about this question? It is a great conversation starter and insight into people’s worldviews. I personally have never asked this question and not received an answer or had a conversation that followed.
- Role playing. Whether in a congregational setting or a simple meeting outside of standard Church gatherings, this is a great way to sharpen brothers and sisters to prep them for real world experiences. Each year at Carolina Bible Camp I offer a make-shift apologetics class where I role play as an atheist. The students love it and provides a safe environment for them to learn.
Marines aren’t forged just through teaching but through training. God’s people are spiritual warriors. Let us all be dedicated to the teaching and training of spiritual warriors to the expansion of God’s kingdom and the salvation of the lost.