Evangelism Handbook: Biblical

As a guy I am never going to have the experience of giving birth (not mad at that fact). So the closest thing (and it is not so close) would be “birthing” a new book. I finally got to hold in my hands my new book Evangelism Handbook: Biblical, Spiritual, Intentional, Missional. Okay, holding a book is nothing like holding a child. But it is satisfying to see the fruit of one’s labor.

I want to give a bit of an overview of the book by highlighting its major themes. The book covers over 20 subjects in 26 chapters across four main sections noted in the subtitle. First, the book focuses on evangelism that is Biblical. This comprises the first nine chapters. Chapter one simply argues the fact that we in the church in the West must change–not the truth of Scripture, but our practice in order to line up more with that truth. No one I meet argues the status quo today is healthy. Then, over eight chapters I highlight major truth themes as they relate to the task of evangelism.

Chapters two and three examine the message and motives for evangelism, including what evangelism is NOT and what it IS (biblical terms, definitions, etc). Chapters four through six look specifically at Scripture: the mission of God seen throughout the Bible (the Great Commission is hardly only a theme noted at the end of a Gospel in the NT); a closer look at evangelism in the life and work of Christ and the example of Paul; and a chapter looking at the movement of God in the Acts, including a focus on what I have seen to be a very overlooked theme in contemporary discussions of Acts–the daily nature of life in the church (“daily” is noted over ten times in the text).

Two chapters examine the history of evangelism, as the gospel spread across the globe, and without apology I focus on the impact of great spiritual movements on effective evangelism. There is so much to be learned from history to help us navigate our time.

Finally, chapter nine looks particularly at the theology of evangelism. I do not assume the reader actually knows what the gospel is, but with the help of colleagues and friends (Pete Schemm, Ken Keathley, and SBTS friend Tim Beougher) try to articulate what the amazing gospel is and dangers to its spread today, from inclusivism to annihilationism.

I am grateful in this book to have guest articles written by experts in different fields. Tom Johnston of MBTS wrote a helpful article in this section on defining evangelism.

Here is an excerpt from the section on the evangelism of Jesus (Chapter Five):
“There are over forty accounts in the Gospels of Jesus’ personal evangelism. Studying these accounts demonstrates several truths. Jesus could adapt His presentation to different audiences. He obviously knew people well. He was sensitive to His Father’s leadership. He was urgent and persistent. And even our Lord did not reach everyone with whom He shared. The following illustrations help us to see how Jesus evangelized people.
First, Jesus SOUGHT people. In Luke 19, we read how Jesus sought Zacchaeus. He intentionally set out to meet him and even made an appointment to meet him at the tax collector’s house. He met Zacchaeus where he was as he sat in a tree (v. 5). He identified with a sinner, regardless of the consequences (v. 7). Jesus further convicted Zacchaeus of his sin. Finally, this account shows us Jesus did not just meet sinners, He sought to save them (vv. 9–10). Who are you currently seeking for the cause of Christ? Do you have names of people for whom you are praying, people with whom you are establishing friendships who do not know Christ? I recently took part in a survey of pastors. One of the questions asked the pastors how many times they had an unchurched family in their home and how many times they were in unchurched friends’ homes in the past year. Several of the pastors’ commented how the survey made them realize what a low priority they put on seeking those without Christ.
Next, Jesus was APPROACHABLE. In John 3, we read of Nicodemus approaching Jesus by night. Nicodemus was searching for truth (v. 2). The reply of Jesus was direct. He boldly confronted Nicodemus (v. 3). A dialogue ensued concerning the gospel, but no immediate change was indicated (vv. 4-21). However, there is evidence of Nicodemus’s possible change (see John 7:50–52). He brought gifts to anoint the body of Jesus after His death (see John 19:39). Are you approachable? If a lost neighbor, family member, or coworker suddenly began to think of spiritual things, would they think of you as the person to speak with about their questions?
Third, Jesus made the most of every OPPORTUNITY. While every example of the witness of Jesus is critical, His encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4 is especially enlightening. Compare Jesus’ approach to this broken and ostracized woman to the way he spoke to Nicodemus in John 3. Nicodemus crept in at night, was a religious leader, and flattered Jesus. Jesus’ replied to him directly, admonishing him to be born again. Jesus tended to be very direct with openly religious people, by the way.
But He approached the woman of Samaria with great care and kindness, despite her failture and sin. She had after all been married and divorced five times and was currently living with a man. Yet Jesus spoke to her in a way that compelled her to consider His truth. His witness can be summarized as follows:
• Intentional—He had to go to Samaria (4:4) even though centuries of enmity existed between Jews and Samaritans. Even though weary from the journey, our Lord made time to speak to others.
• Conversational—He built rapport with someone very different by finding a common need, for water (4:7).
• Respectful—though the Son of God, a Jew, and a man, He spoke kindly to her, asking for her help (4:7).
• Directional—He quickly moved from trivial matters to spiritual issues, relating the water at the well to living water (4:10-15). In addition, He refused to be sidetracked by discussions of worship (4:19-24).
• Convictional—He did not deny her sin, but sensing her brokenness He did not dwell on it either (4:16-18). We must be careful to know when to challenge people at the point of sin when they are self-righteous, and when to show the grace of God when they admit their need for God.
• Confrontational—While not a popular word today, our Lord ultimately confronted her with the truth of who He is (4:26). She ultimately had to decide whether or not He was the Messiah she sought.
• Missional—Not only did Jesus share His message in a missional context, but she immediately became one of the first missionaries in the New Testament, telling others of the Christ (4:28-30). Ironically, His own disciples missed the missional moment, thinking only of physical needs (4:27-38).
• Attitudinal—Finally, note Christ’s attitude toward people. Jesus had at least three general dispositions toward three groups. To the common people, broken and wearied by sin, He consistently showed compassion (as noted above). To the religious crowd, particularly the hypocritical and the legalists, He often demonstrated anger or unacceptance of them. Read Matthew 23 and see His denunciation of the Pharisees, for example. Finally, toward those who would follow Him, He expected nothing less than absolute surrender (Luke 9:23).”

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