Over the years, I’ve read a lot on the topic of evangelism. When you read a lot of books on one topic over the course of a long period of time it’s often the case that authors repeat each other. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as the repeating is biblically sound teaching that helps the reader grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. The topic of evangelism as a whole is one that many Christians would likely rather avoid. It’s tough to be turned down time after time. I know this well since when I lived in Seattle I had a ministry where I intentionally went out to minister on the streets of Seattle to homeless people and others. This is why as I read Honest Evangelism: How To Talk about Jesus even when it’s tough by Rico Tice with Carl Lafterton I was encouraged. I was encouraged to read an author who takes a relational approach to evangelism with the intention of not siting by idly but actually being intentionally in witnessing to the people.
What is unique about Honest Evangelism is the author’s emphasis. While many books focus on employing methods of evangelism to the reader, many of which readers may not be able to do or not work, Rico focus on growing in Christ. He focuses on addressing sin in our own lives with the result that we will want to model and share Christ naturally out of our own growth in Christ. This is a needed message and one the Bible sounds over and over again. In fact, the Apostle John in the Gospel of John takes this approach in his Gospel focusing on the content of the gospel and then how to share that content with people. Honest Evangelism focuses on growing in Christ with a view sharing Christ with others. Along the way, the author focuses on a relational approach to evangelism with the idea of being intentional to share Christ in that relationship. The author also sweeps away the idea that evangelism is a one stop thing where we just “share Christ” with someone and then walk away. Instead, the author calls us to the long haul and to work patiently with people.
Honest Evangelism is a short book at only one hundred and four pages. While the content is by and large solid, I would have liked to see some more development on the need to have a growing knowledge base while ministering to people. I don’t see this as a weakness per say in this book. The author does emphasize the importance of knowing doctrine in order to share the content of the gospel with people. I think many evangelism and apologetics books need to do a better job at being explicit on this point since it can be underemphasized in other Christian literature. The goal of knowing sound doctrine is to model sound doctrine in our lives. In other words, the reason we’ll want to share Christ with people as Rico rightly notes is because Christ is changing our lives. When we’re taking seriously our own growth in Christ we won’t be able to contain the joy that we’re experiencing from the Lord.
Honest Evangelism is a good book for every Christian. We need to be reminded continually as Christians that we have a great ongoing need for Jesus. We need to be repenting of our sin not just saying we’re sorry for it but genuinely turning from it and to Jesus. The end result of that is we will keep short accounts with God. Our fellowship with God will be sweet and unhindered. We’ll have a growing desire for holiness, a hatred of sin, which will result in wanting to share Christ with others who are lost and with Christians who are hurting. This is why I recommend Honest Evangelism. This book is realistic about the struggle to evangelism and it also helpfully points the reader to the finished work of Christ and the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit. If you’re struggling with engaging in evangelism, I recommend you read this book. If you like books on evangelism you’ll enjoy reading and adding this book to your collection of books on evangelism. This book would also be good for pastors and ministry leaders to read and then pass onto people they are ministering to. I recommend this book and believe those who read it will find practical and useful tools to overcome their fear of evangelism.
Buy the book at Amazon.
I received this book for free from The Good Book Company for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Biblically speaking, to be just means to use your strength on behalf of the weak.
Justice most certainly includes an overall “fairness” and truth and integrity and honesty and refusing to show partiality.
But the essence of justice goes beyond that.
The essence of justice is that those with greater authority and influence are to use their stronger position in service of those who are in a weaker situation.
Helping those in a “weaker situation” might mean helping those suffering from poverty or sickness or some other harm, but it doesn’t have to be. It means helping anyone without the influence of formal authority you have. Which means, if you are a manager or leader in an organization (or in politics or anywhere), that it includes those who work for you.
Some people think that the biblical commands to be just in this sense and their corollary, radical generosity, do not apply inside the bounds of an organization. Inside an organization, “business rules” apply, which is interpreted to mean that people must be impersonal (a distorted notion of the concept of being “impartial”) and that doing things for your own advantage primarily is correct and right.
But this is wrong. The biblical commands to be generous and to be just apply in all areas of our lives, without exception. The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) and commands to be merciful as God is merciful (generous to all, especially the undeserving, Matthew 5:43-48) do not cease to apply at our jobs and in our work and in our organizations. They are not simply for the personal realm.
Their manifestation may look different in each area of life. But these principles of justice and generosity still apply in every area of life and we must be diligent to apply them in all areas.
So, here’s one example. Let’s take the workplace. Being just and generous in the workplace means that, if you are in authority over people, you use that authority in the service of everyone you interact with — including those in the organization who directly work for you, those around the organization who don’t work for you but you are in a position to influence, and those outside the organization that you interact with. It means you see yourself as a servant of all, and that you see your authority and position and role as existing not as some statement of how great you are or how hard you’ve worked, but rather as existing for the sake of those around you. Your authority exists to do them good.
Now, immediately here we run into “the fallacy of doing good,” which is the tendency of people to act contrary to the purpose and role of their vocations in in their attempts to “do good,” which ends up making things worse. One example might be a chef at a restaurant who gives away dozens of free meals every night out of a spirit of generosity, when it’s not his restaurant and the owner has not given him the authority to do that. In this case, the chef’s generosity of spirit is right, but the way he carries it out is not. (If he owned the restaurant or had been given the leeway to do that sort of thing by the owner, however, go for it!)
So, what does using your authority and role to “do good” at your job look like when done right? A lot could be said, but let me just say one simple, yet core, thing.
It means being for the people who work for you. Which means believing that they can excel and do good work and make a contribution, even when few other people might be able to see it. And it means using your influence to give them opportunities and, yes, advance their career whenever you have the chance.
Note I’m not saying you shouldn’t be smart and discerning. But I am saying that you should have a default belief in people and therefore do whatever you can to give them a chance, to give them greater opportunities, and to give them a break whenever you can and whenever it seems they will be able to meet the opportunity and succeed in it.
And it means, even when you aren’t in a position at the moment to help advance someone or given them an opportunity, that you are encouraging and always seek to be the type of person that builds others up and helps them get better at what they do.
So much here is about your spirit and attitude — the disposition you have and with which you carry yourself. You need to see yourself as existing for the good of others, and charged with the responsibility from God to use any influence, authority, and resources you have in service to others.
But note that I’m not simply saying “be for other people.” That is a critical thing. But it’s not enough, because it’s so easy to say that we are “for” someone but never take action. It’s easy to say words that we don’t back up with our behavior. The true disposition of a servant is to be for people and to be diligent and forward and effective in identifying ways to promote their welfare.
This is a call to give thought to improving in both our dispositions and our concrete actions. See yourself as existing in your role for the good of others, and be proactive in finding real opportunities to use your authority and influence and resources to serve others and build them up.
That’s a how true Christian operates in his job and lives his entire life.
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1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
Call it a fire within, label it a calling in life, say what you will, but every Christian is called to share the gospel. If we love Jesus, we obey what Jesus commanded (Jn. 15:13). What did Jesus command? Jesus commanded His followers to be witnesses (Acts 1:8) and to go and make disciples, teaching them what they observed (Matt. 28:19). What did they observe? The disciples observed the love of Christ first-hand; they saw how He loved and how He reached people. While the focus of this article is about sharing the gospel, it is rooted in the command to love—the love for people.
Many believers have heard the claim that Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words,” the only problem is, this is not true. Inquiries have been made and there is no evidence in any of his writings, or any writings in the Franciscan Order twenty years after his death, which makes such a statement. We are always to use words (if capable), the question may be when and how, and that is what I hope to prepare you to do—to have a love for sharing the gospel.
Before we begin, let’s have an understanding, you were rescued and delivered from death, not just to redeem you from the wrath of God against sin, but as a testimony. You’re to live your life to glorify God. For those who believe, the old self becomes a testimony to what God has accomplished in you, through Christ. You’re a new person and God has promised you eternal life—let us not forget this underpinning of our faith. Therefore, we should be in awe of Him and love that He has granted us the ability to know Him, seek Him, find Him, and abide in Him. So, let’s look at three ways to how we can share the love of Christ.
1. Be Innovative & Creative
Each of us has a unique testimony. Rarely are two ever alike; we’re like snowflakes. So, if that’s the case, think about how God works in history. How did He deliver Israel? By allowing Joseph to go into slavery, get arrested on trumped up charges of rape, and then interpret a dream of the Pharaoh. Really, does that sound ordinary? How about Joshua? His first big military strike against Jericho, God delivers the plans to him in the flesh. Joshua goes back to his generals, I can see him writhing his hands together, and says, “Ok, listen up, we’re going to take Jericho…” Except then, he tells the leaders that they won’t use force or a sword, only walk around the city. Seriously? Think about how God choose to spread the gospel, church planting across all of Asia Minor, and to the writing of more than half of the NT Scriptures? God used the number one adversary of Christianity—Saul of Tarsus! Are you seeing a connection here?
Why do we think so small? God is innovative and creative—we should be too. Share what God is doing, has done, continues to do, and will do, in your life. Open up to God in prayer; allow Him to use you. I once picked up a homeless hitchhiker and drove him 60 miles out of my way—on a Sunday morning, instead of gathering with the church because he needed the gospel. I will never forget his words when I dropped him off at the bus station, “Matt, what would have happened if you didn’t pick me up?” I said, “I would have missed the blessing that I now receive in seeing you come to know Christ as Savior.” Then he said, “Matt, I want to be a missionary!”
To love God is to listen to God; be ready at all times and everywhere, and allow God to use the gifts, talents, and testimony that He has given to you—think outside of the box.
2. Be Relevant to Culture & Community
Contextualization. Learn how to propel the gospel into your community. We’ve already looked at being innovative and creative, but we must place our pulse on the neighborhood in which we live. While I was recently visiting with a new friend, Philip Fidler of Refuge Durham (NC), they have such an awesome opportunity to reach out and build relationships in their neighborhood; one way the do this is to help prostitutes—people that no one would want to help. Philip and his wife, Kim, have such deep hearts and a desire to share the gospel within their community—so much so, not only do they do ministry within the hard-to-reach neighborhoods, they live there! While Philip and I spoke, he reminded me of a popular saying, “One of the easiest missional tasks we can do is to move our grill from the backyard, into the front yard.”
Likewise, contextualization can be with words. When Paul arrived in Athens his heart was vexed, not only that the people were worshipping foreign gods, but that the people did not know God. How did Paul reach these people? He reached them by using their own poets, Epimenedes and Aratus (Acts 17:28). Sure, Jesus spoke about repentance, the Kingdom, and salvation, but that was because Jesus knew His audience—they were expecting the Messiah to usher in the new kingdom and knew what repentance meant. Speak like this nowadays and you’re talking Christianese to people—they have no idea what you’re talking about. Also, Paul didn’t whip out the scroll of Isaiah—but he did use apologetics. Paul admitted, that he became all things to all people, that he might save some (1 Cor. 9:22). If we’re serious about our faith, we need to adapt and think this way. We are in the culture and should understand how to reach people of that culture.
3. Remember the Mission
Remember that we don’t GO on mission; we are on mission—always! God has placed you where you are—the places where you work, live, and meet. God designed work; from the very beginning He placed Adam and Eve in the garden and commanded them to cultivate it. Had sin not entered the picture, the kingdom of God would have expanded globally, as Adam and Eve and their respective generations had offspring. It just so happens that the history of humanity begins with a garden and ends in a city, but all throughout, God illustrated His love by sending prophets and people to reach different cultures and people groups—we need to remember the mission of Christ. We need to remember that the love of God should propel us to reach people in a way that they can understand. The church of Ephesus was admonished by Jesus for “losing their first love” (Rev. 2:4), and what was that love—sharing the gospel! Sharing the love of Christ with others is a command. Let’s do it.
This post first appeared at Men’s Daily Life and is posted here with permission.
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