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Nine Steps to Presenting the Case for Christianity
by J Warner Wallace
After many years investigating and presenting criminal cases here in Southern California, I’ve learned a few important strategies. These simple principles are also valuable to those of us who want to defend what we believe as Christians. Last week I outlined eight steps to investigating the case for Christianity. I use these principles to reach the most reasonable conclusion about the involvement of a particular suspect, but once an investigation results in the arrest of this suspect, we’ve got to present our case in a court of law. The emphasis shifts from the work of the detective to the work of the attorneys who will represent the prosecution and defense. When the following steps are taken in a criminal trial, success is far more likely:
STEP #1 – Pick a Jury Insightfully
Perhaps the most important step in presenting a criminal case is the careful selection of the jury. Many cases are lost before they start because the prosecution simply failed to select a jury committed to a fair review of the evidence, or because the prosecution failed to properly prepare the jury prior to the trial. The prosecution and the defense have the chance to pick jurors who are actually interested in being jurors, so they can teach them something about the nature of evidence before they serve. This process of evaluating the ability and desire of each juror and instructing them on the nature of evidence is incredibly important (and often overlooked).
As a Christian…
I’ve got to do something very similar if I want to be a “Case Making” Christian. Before I present my case, it is critical I consider who will hear my case. Just as an attorney is careful about selecting the right jury, I have to be careful about selecting the right audience. Is the person I am sharing with capable of examining the evidence fairly? Is he or she even interested in hearing what I have to say? Am I offering an answer to someone who doesn’t even have a question? If I want to be an effective “Case Making” Christian, I need to carefully select and prepare those who I am about to address.
A “Case Making” Tip:
Be sensitive to locating those in your world who are beginning to ask questions. We often target friends and family members who we desperately want to reach for Christ, but who are not yet even curious about matters of faith. These kinds of folks are difficult to reach. What can you do about it? You can begin to live the kind of life that causes others to ask you about your faith. Are we reflecting the nature of Jesus to those around us? Are they even curious about what we believe? Start living in a way that provokes people to ask about your Christian Worldview. Never let an opportunity slip by without at least trying to provide an answer. There are a number of good books that can help you to understand how to best identify those you can reach with the truth.
STEP #2 – Make an Opening Statement Thoroughly
The attorneys in a jury trial begin by making opening statements. These statements must be thorough and preview everything they will later present to the jury during the presentation of evidence. In essence, opening statements are like promises; each attorney pledges to back up his or her claim with evidence over the course of the trial. The attorneys claim this evidence will either convincingly demonstrate the guilt of the defendant or be insufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt. They make “promises” to the jury and must then deliver on these promises over the course of the trial (by presenting the evidence they described in the opening statement). If they can deliver on their promises, they’ve got a very good chance of winning the case…