Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Cold Case Christianity

Christian Case Making

How Role-Playing Can Energize Your Group to Become Case Makers

How Role-Playing Can Energize Your Group to Become Case MakersNot long ago, Brett Kunkle, Sean McDowell and I spent several days training students for a Berkeley Missions trip. These trips are fun but challenging. Brett still leads these trips regularly, helping Christian high school students engage young men and women on the UC Berkeley campus. Once there, the students discuss issues related to theism, culture and worldview. These young Christians also interact with thoughtful atheist authors, speakers and student leaders during the trip. The resulting discussions are robust, pointed, and sometimes hostile. In spite of the challenging nature of the excursion, students usually begin this training with a naïve sense of confidence and (I hate to say it) apathy. Like many other Christians I meet across the country, our students need to understand the importance of case making before they will ever take a step toward becoming case makers. As we begin to train each group, we must overcome their apathy and naïve confidence.

If you’ve tried to energize your own church, family or community about “apologetics” (Christian Case Making), you’ve probably experienced something similar. In fact, many of you have written to me, expressing this frustration: “How can I encourage my church to understand the need for Christian Case Making?” If you’ve ever found yourself asking a question like this, I have a potential solution: consider role-playing.

As Christ followers, we typically surround ourselves with other like-minded believers. In the comfortable worlds we inhabit and create for ourselves, we seldom encounter people who challenge us or make us uncomfortable. Many of us don’t even understand the extent to which our Christian beliefs are being challenged by the increasingly antagonistic culture. We’ve insolated ourselves to the point of apathy. Because we’re never challenged, we fail to see the need to study. Most of us don’t start thinking about dinner until we get hungry. We don’t start shopping for a car until our current car isn’t working. Similarly, most Christians don’t recognize the need for Case Making until they’ve been challenged to make a case.

That’s why role-playing is so effective. Last night, as in most of our prior training sessions, we began with some acting. We spent an hour challenging the students as though we were non-believers. We did our best to portray the opposition with clarity and fairness, but we pressed our students as much as possible. We presented the arguments we typically encounter when talking with atheists (or held ourselves when we were non-believers). At first, it didn’t take much effort to stump the group or frustrate them with our atheistic objections. Within minutes, the students realized they were unable to defend what they believed as Christians. After an hour, their frustration was palpable. They were irritated with their inability to defend what they believed, and while this incompetence made them uncomfortable, it served our purposes perfectly. Suddenly, Christian Case Making became important to these students; they understood their inability and the magnitude of the challenge.

When I am asked to do longer, multi-session training with a group, I sometimes begin without revealing my Christian identity at all. I’ll introduce myself as the old atheist I used to be. Without revealing who I am today, I’ll spend an hour demonstrating the defensive shortcomings of the group. When I finally reveal I’m a Christian, the group is typically relieved to find out I am on their side. If my time with a group is much shorter, I’ll still find a way to “role-play” the position of those who oppose the Christian view. If nothing else, I’ll simply provide a series of quotes (or even a short video) demonstrating the strength of the opposition. In other words, I begin by creating a hunger for the meal we are about to eat. I try to demonstrate the urgency of the questions so the answers will be embraced more eagerly.

If you’re a “One Dollar Apologist” and you’re struggling to introduce Christian Case Making to your Christian brothers and sisters, consider the importance of role playing. If nothing else, present the opposing case prior to making the case for Christianity. When you demonstrate the strength of the challenge, people are far more willing to strengthen their ability to respond.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
If you’re a “One Dollar Apologist” and you’re struggling to introduce Christian Case Making to your Christian brothers and sisters, consider the importance of role playing. Share on X

For more information about the nature of Biblical faith and a strategy for communicating the truth of Christianity, please read Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith. This book teaches readers four reasonable, evidential characteristics of Christianity and provides a strategy for sharing Christianity with others. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Forensic Faith DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

Subscribe to J. Warner’s Daily Email

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written By

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker and best-selling author. He continues to consult on cold-case investigations while serving as a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is also an Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and a faculty member at Summit Ministries. He holds a BA in Design (from CSULB), an MA in Architecture (from UCLA), and an MA in Theological Studies (from Gateway Seminary).



  1. Pingback: Requiring Young Christians to Raise the Bar | Cold Case Christianity

  2. Pingback: Let’s Challenge Each Other Here, So We Won’t Be Surprised Out There | Apologetics ForumApologetics Forum

  3. Pingback: Let’s Challenge Each Other Here, So We Won’t Be Surprised Out There | Cold Case Christianity

  4. Pingback: Why It’s Important to Test Yourself As A Christian - Nehemiah Reset

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like


In this Cold-Case Christianity podcast, J. Warner re-examines an atheist objection related to the historicity of Jesus. Is Jesus merely a copycat of prior...

God / Theism

Skeptics have argued against the involvement of an external designer on the basis of perceived imperfections within biological structures. If there is an all-powerful...

Faith and Belief

In this podcast, J. Warner talks about the role of evidence in making the case for Christianity and the need for an evidential approach...

Evangelism and Case Making

In this podcast, J. Warner responds to a listener who wants to know how to become a public apologist. What strategies are effective? What...