(Photo: Liquid Church)
A New Jersey church will put a spin on the Easter story by bringing in a professional detective to examine Christ's death and resurrection.
Homicide investigator J. Warner Wallace will utilize his "cold case investigation skills" to examine the historical circumstances surrounding Christianity's sacred weekend in a four-week series that starts on Sunday at Liquid Church's four locations.
"We know people's faith rests on understanding if the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was real or not. What better way than to bring in a CSI detective and have him examine the biblical evidence available for a homicide investigation?" Tim Lucas, lead pastor of Liquid Church said in a statement.
Wallace is a recipient of Police and Fire Medal of Valor "Sustained Superiority" Award and has had one of his cases appear on NBC's "Dateline" program.
A self-proclaimed "angry atheist" for 35 years, Wallace shares on his website that he enjoyed frequently debating his Christian friends, and admits that he was "hostile to Christianity and largely dismissive of Christians."
But once Wallace began to use the same tools he used in the field to examine Christianity, he "found the evidence for Christianity to be as convincing as any cold case I'd ever investigated." Since then, the former detective has worked as a youth pastor, church planter and most recently, has shared his conversion story in the book, Cold Case Christianity.
Brett Kunkle, the student impact director at Stand to Reason, praised the work of his friend, saying that "the Church needs more Jim Wallaces.
"I have worked side-by-side with him in a variety of ministry contexts and have seen firsthand the impact of Jim's work. His experience as a homicide detective gives him a tough-minded approach to the evidence for Christianity. His experience as a pastor provides a tender-hearted approach to people. With both, Jim is able to effectively train Christians to defend the Gospel with intelligence and graciousness."
Liquid Church unofficially began in a classroom in 1999. In 2001, in moved to a tavern where it enjoyed an average weekly attendance of 150 people. Today, it has sites in Morristown, Mountainside, New Brunswick and Nutley.
In 2011, the church gave away $30,000 to everyone in attendance, in amounts of $10, $20 and $50.
Lucas said that Liquid hoped to encourage recipients to invest the money in meaningful ways, such as putting the money into the community to help others in need.
"Every dollar in our economy is printed with the words 'In God We Trust,' but we want to challenge people with the idea that 'God Trusts Them,'" said Lucas.