Be my witnesses
EP Books, 160 pages, £6.99
Star Rating : 3
A book that encourages us all to engage in evangelism is always to be welcomed, especially as it focuses on what used to be called ‘personal evangelism’, but is now increasingly known as ‘relational evangelism’.
The opening chapter is a stirring challenge to us all on our responsibility to be witnesses for Christ and not leave it to the ‘experts’. There are chapters covering differences between popular beliefs about what a Christian is and what the Bible says a Christian is. These provide useful pointers to bear in mind as we seek to speak to others about Christ.
There are also chapters on how to meet and get to know unconverted people. Another chapter deals with how the doctrines of election and predestination affect evangelism. The author shows convincingly that these are not a hindrance but a spur to evangelism.
There are a number of flaws that need to be mentioned. The author is keen to promote relational evangelism, but his underlying principle gives rise to concern: ‘Postmodern culture is more relational than rational, so winning the argument is less relevant and less likely to lead a person to faith than developing a relationship and befriending sinners’ (p.55).
While we have to be aware of the culture in which we live, by no means are we to let it define how we evangelise, especially as elsewhere he clearly demonstrates the gospel is about truth and falsehood and things to be believed.
The author passes over the importance of preaching in the ministry of the Saviour and the early church. Of course they sought to deal with people on a personal level, but this is a far cry from the approach advocated by this book.
He mentions other forms of evangelism and, quite rightly, says that preaching or the direct approach is not suitable for everyone. He goes on to say (p.67), ‘No one method of evangelism is going to fit everyone. Hence, we need to be cautious about criticising methods we don’t use or don’t like’.
But then, a few pages later (p.73), he caricatures open-air preaching: ‘Certainly the age of “megaphone diplomacy”, that is, shouting the message of the gospel on street corners, is no longer as effective in Western culture (or perhaps in any culture) as it was a generation ago’.
Despite such reservations, the book is well worth reading for all the valuable advice and ideas on how to speak with the lost in a winsome and thoughtful way, no matter what form of evangelism you are doing.