My day with J. Warner Wallace

And his advice to apologists

J. Warner Wallace is in Dallas-Fort Worth today. He is a star homicide detective. Lately, he has also doubled as one of the most popular “case-makers” for Christianity. (“Case-maker” is a helpful term he uses in place of “apologist” in his very readable book, Cold-Case Christianity).

In case you’re curious, I think I can tell you a bit about what being around Jim is like—I just spent a half-day with him after all. As the cheery professor Abraham kept saying at dinner, in his thick Irish accent,

“He is a force of nature!”

J. Warner Wallace, as least in my time with him, tended to be the life of whatever group he interacted with. But let me back up to my first interaction with him.

Pizza-time strategizing

Pantego Christian Academy had just finished with its excellent apologetics conference; Jim had been the keynote speaker, but it was over now. We all convened to a conference room, to pray, fellowship, and eat pizza…
• Kevin Harris (the sexy deep interviewer voice on Craig’s Reasonable Faith podcast),
• Steve Lee,
• John and Hillary Ferrer,
• J. Warner Wallace,
• Travis Dickenson,
• Sam Dallas.
Then, like a seasoned war general, Jim essentially launched into what I quickly learned was his real passion: strategizing and teaching apologists to market themselves. He urged that we are the people with important things to say, and we need to get more material out there. He proceeded to explain how the principles of a book transformed his ministry into being the influential powerhouse it is today. The book is called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Let me share the first two insights, and then I will talk about the third and how he grilled Treesearch!

Tip #1: Blog Regularly
He emphasized how important it is to get involved, and to have a blog or something equivalent with regular written content coming in. I've been slacking here, but now that the site update has launched, I hope to get back to it.

Tip #2: Stay in your Lane
He then encouraged us to “stay in our lane.” No one apologetics ministry can target all markets, so find out where you want to specialize and try not to move out of it.

Travis, Jim, and myself, then drove over to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, for the 2015 Stand Firm apologetics conference. On the way, Jim was again talking about strategy and marketing, telling us how important it was to be actively tweeting, which he does about 10 times a day! (This is a bit more than my once every three months.)

Meeting with the faculty

We listened to a lecture by SMU philosophy professor William J. Abraham. It was not technically part of the apologetics conference, so there were only about 10 people in the room. Afterwards, we and some of the faculty stuffed in a car and headed out for dinner. During the ride, guess what we talked about again? Strategic marketing for apologetics! With the same passion, Jim launched into the same principles and same book. It then dawned on me that, if you are an apologist and you get any alone time with Jim, this is probably the first thing he is going to talk to you about! Jim also shared thoughts that would be applicable to the University, which was well received (notably: “Offer students extra credit if they attend the apologetics conference” ― that’s how you multiply the attendance many times over!).

During the meal, we essentially had a group of philosophers captivated by stories of his work as a homicide detective, and how this has affected his view of evidence. Soon enough, we headed back, where Jim would be the keynote speaker for this apologetics conference as well.

Oh, what was his third tip?

The third tip

Tip #3: Pay mind to your X-Factor
He insisted that we discern our “X-Factor.” His was being a detective. That is to say, we needed to find out what was unique to us, and to capitalize on it. J. Warner Wallace writes on his website:

“As a result, I have some experience with evidence. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m an “evidential” Christian Case Maker; that’s my lane and I try to stay in it. This means I may not be the best authority when it comes to a number of other Christian worldview issues. That’s where you come in. Maybe your life has given you better insight in areas where I am weak. If we each find our lane (and work hard to develop our expertise) we’ll impact our culture as a team.”

Hillary (mentioned above), who specializes in science apologetics, is looking to start a case-making ministry that targets mothers. She wants to wake them up to the real danger that their children will leave the faith, and tap into their protective maternal instinct in doing so. They discussed the perfect name for her ministry, which I hope I will get to announce soon.

Re-titling Treesearch Apologetics

On the other hand, I got railed on a bit for titling my ministry “Treesearch.” It sounds like a place you’d go for finding yourself a tree to take home! Well, regulars know it is a reference to the novel way Treesearch allows one to research… from an expanding tree view. (There is also a more subtle meaning which plays on the Bible calling Jesus’s cross a tree.)

[Update: After some helpful comments, we've decided to re-title the ministry: BeliefMap!]