Using a Detective’s Approach When Deciding How to Interact

by J. Warner Wallace

My ministry partner, Greg Koukl, has done the Christian community a great service in writing Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. His work was recently cited in a valuable blog post at Reasons for God, entitled “Five Ways to Answer A Question.” The book and the blog post illustrate the need for tactical engagement when talking to seekers and skeptics in your world. Detectives also have experience talking with people and some of these experiences are relevant to the common spiritual conversations that all of us have. There are three kinds of interactions that Detectives navigate with witnesses and suspects:


Most of us are familiar with these kinds of interactions. Conversations are two directional; they involve a dialogue between both parties. Most of my professional interactions with anyone begin this way. In the early part of my interaction, I want to build relational bridges with the people I engage. This takes time and it takes a true heart for people. You can’t fake this; it’s not a technique or tactic that can be employed falsely. People will see right through you if you don’t have a true interest in them. In all the years I studied interview and interrogation techniques as a detective, learning the tactical “tricks of the trade”, my interviews and interrogations only improved after I became a Christian. My conversion made me a better interviewer. Once I truly recognized my own fallen nature, I was able to relate to others without judging them harshly. I began to

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develop a heart for people that I never had as an unsaved detective. My interactions changed dramatically and my introductory conversations became genuinely empathetic, regardless of the person I was talking to.

I began to eat meals with the people I arrested. After taking them into custody, I would often ask them if they were hungry, and if they were, I would order something and make sure I ate with them in the interview room. I recognized that many of God’s most important conversations with humans have been over a meal (the Lord’s Supper is the most powerful example of this). We don’t eat with people we don’t know well, and a simple meal can unite two people in a way that few other settings can achieve. Once my heart was broken for people, I was actually willing to eat with the people I arrested. The conversations we had were powerful…


The Poached Egg ApologeticsPleaseConvinceMe Blog: Using a Detective’s Approach When Deciding How to Interact




Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels


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