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The Benefits of Formal Debate

Note: The list below is the “ideal” list of positive benefits in the whole debate process. If someone has a bad attitude, is lazy and unteachable, then they will experience very little (if any) of the benefits listed below. 


Also, the list below is written to a Christian audience and assumes that they will have the desire to approach every debate topic with a motivation to honor God (Colossians 3:23) via delighting in and defending the truth as they seek to grow in loving God more with their heart, soul, mind and strength.  


 List of Benefits of the whole Formal Debate Process:

  1. Your critical thinking skills will be sharpened. 

  2. You will own your own position(s) with greater conviction than if you merely were told “what” to think. You learn how to think and why you believe what you do.  

  3. You will develop the ability to some the some of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of an issue. 

  4. You learn how to handle yourself with decorum (judges will mark you down if you are unprofessional!) in debate. Most people initially say that they don’t like debate because they confuse it with quarrelling, which is not the same. See my blog here that goes into depth on the difference.  

  5. You will learn how to say more with less time and fewer words.  

  6. You will learn how to better manage your time and research an issue thoroughly during the preparation process.  

  7. You don’t have to dread a “never-ending” debate as formal debate has a required start and end point. 

  8. You are forced to evaluate the importance of carefully defining your terms.  

  9. You learn the value of reading widely. 

  10. During the research process you will occasionally find yourself being intrigued with various topics and chase them down. Thus, you should be able to grow in differentiating which topics are worth studying in greater depth and which ones you need to set aside until later. Consequently, you grow in both your wonder and excitement in learning about God’s world and in self-discipline.  

  11. You learn how to give and receive feedback with humility during the preparation process. 

  12.  You naturally end up participating in various informal Socratic dialogues with friends and family as you weigh the merits of both sides of an issue. Thus, you can model and help provoke a greater desire in others for a pursuit of truth, good and beauty via meaningful conversations on weightier matters.

  13. You can develop deep friendships with those that help you prepare for debate as you discuss the pros and cons of various ideas and spend time together. 

  14.  Your everyday friendly informal debates will be influenced by your formal debate experiences. For example, you may find yourself wanting to more carefully listen to what someone else is saying, wait your turn until you can speak, take notes, and more intentionally ask questions. 

  15. Formal debate will help improve your interaction with others in personal evangelism through improving your ability to state a clear case and ask good questions.  

  16. You learn the value of citing credible sources to support your points instead of appeals to emotion or empty rhetoric. 

  17. You may be inspired to watch other skilled debaters and learn more about the topics they are debating.

  18. You learn how to better listen and summarize others ideas and how to properly seek clarification.  

  19. You will improve your note-taking skills. 

  20. Your become less afraid of respectfully stating your disagreements with others and grow in walking in greater integrity and honesty in your relationships.

  21. You can grow in learning how to wisely manage your time in formal and informal encounters and when press a point and when to focus on a more pressing issue.

  22. You will grow a “thicker” skin and won’t get offended when others disagree with your positions.  

  23. You should be able to grow in humility as your regularly receive pushback against your positions as you humbly acknowledge (during or after) an informal or formal debate where you may have weaknesses in your stated position(s).

  24. You will grow in your confidence to explain yourself informally or formally in front of various sizes of crowds. 

  25. You will grow in your ability to make an impromptu explanation or rebuttal of a position (this is needed in almost every line of work). 

  26. You can improve in the art of persuasion through thoughtful questions. 

  27. You are held accountable for avoiding logical fallacies in your argumentation.  

  28. You can persuade your audience to change their mind on a topic. Through hearing both sides “constructive case,” a good cross-examination and rebuttal has the potential to avoid someone from the “echo chamber” effect and strengthen their conviction for what is true and defending it publicly, yet without becoming quarrelsome.  Rarely does the opponent of a formal debate change their mind; however, the public debate format is more about persuading the audience anyway.

  29. You have the potential to inspire more people in our society to bring back this classical form of rhetoric. This is important for bad ideas to be publicly challenged and exposed for the true danger that they pose to society. Sadly, our culture today observes “presidential debates” and merely thinks about “mudslinging” “ad hominems” and “circular reasoning”- which ends up eclipsing the core propositions that each debater is attempting to bring out.  

  30. You have the opportunity to inspire others to move out of their apathy on various moral issues and take action  (Check out my article reflection on the value of debate and publicly persuading and government officials to end abortion).

  31.  You may be forced to reflect more on how Jesus reasoned with People in the gospels. For a great resource on this, check out Logic and the way of Jesus.  

  32. You will grow in loving God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.  

  33. You will grow in learning how to think Biblically in every strand of knowledge that is true, good and beautiful, and how it flows out of the character of God himself. Thus, you will grow in seeing the total truth of the Christian worldview in everything.  

  34. You can demonstrate to unbelievers that Christians love and defend the truth and anti-intellectualism has no place in Biblical Christianity.  click here for more on answering objections to reasoning and debate.

Can you think of any more reasons other should consider participating in formal debate? Write them down in the comment section below or discuss them with your friends and family.

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