Book Review: Evangelism; How to Share the Gospel Faithfully

JMAC EvangelismAs I pointed out in my last post, the subject of evangelism has been on my mind as of late. Therefore, I am taking the opportunity to reacquaint myself with some of the resources on this topic which find a home in my own personal library. Furthermore, I am being encouraged in this endeavour by the opportunity being a contributor to this site brings by allowing me to share insight into these resources. So my post today will continue in this vein by presenting the book Evangelism; How to Share the Gospel Faithfully. This particular review may be a bit different than most you have read because I am going to primarily share with you how my own thinking has been affected by reading this book.

Evangelism; How to Share the Gospel Faithfully is the fourth installment in The John MacArthur Pastor’s Library series authored by John MacArthur and The Master’s Seminary Faculty. As such it joins Pastoral Ministry; How to Shepherd Biblically, Preaching; How to Preach Biblically and Counseling; How to Counsel Biblically. As a work the volume is written with seasoned pastors, those yet preparing for ministry, and those in the congregation serving in such ministries in mind. Therefore, it addresses each aspect of evangelism in a manner that reminds as well as encourages folks in each of these categories.

In this single volume the reader is offered the opportunity to take advantage of a seminary level course in evangelism taught not by a single professor but rather by a TMS Classroomteam of a sixteen gifted churchmen. Further, the authors are writing from the perspective of men with experiential pastoral ministry in the local church and not merely from an academic point of view which lends far more than credibility. Rather, it provides insights which are appreciated by the seasoned pastor who recognizes a fellow soldier in God’s army for reaching the lost as well as opening the eyes of the novice to the things which may be being overlooked in current service to the local church.

In reading this volume of the Pastor’s Library series my thinking has been challenged in a number of ways but the three most significant are the idea of evangelism being an introduction of people to Jesus Christ, the role that church disciple plays in evangelism, and the myriad ministries within the local church which should have an evangelistic outlook and plan.

Prior to reading this book (even for a second time) I had always thought of presenting the gospel as explaining the “plan” or “way” of salvation. I now understand that though this is indeed a valid method, it has its own shortcomings which may actually lead to the listener coming to a wrong conclusion of the Gospel and its source. I now wholehearted agree with Holland that effective and biblical evangelism points people Jesus Man and God“toward a Saviour to behold” (p. 63). Because of this I am convinced that not only do we need to explain the Gospel “plan” but indeed calling upon people to a restored relationship with the incarnate God, Jesus Christ.

I have always considered church disciple to be of a great benefit to the believers being confronted in their sin in order that they repent and be restored in their relationship to God and the fellowship of the saints. However, I had not considered how this dedication to purity within the church could be of benefit to non-believers both those discovered within the church and those on the outside looking in. In reading through the chapter dealing with the purity of the church I learned of dangers involved in allowing sin to go without confrontation within the local body. The chief of which how such actin seems to lend an air of false assurance in the unbeliever because they are falsely lead to believe that they are redeemed without any discernible repentance on their part. Likewise, when the church does not strive to maintain the purity demanded by the Bible those looking in from without are left to wonder why they should listen to our calls of repentance when they perceive us to behave in the same Special Ministriesmanner we condemn.

The third area my own thinking was informed and expanded was in the multiple ministries within the local church which must necessarily have an evangelistic outlook and action. It is commonly acknowledged that there will be unbelievers within the local assembly (remember the parable of the wheat and the tares?). However it is not always acknowledged that these same folks are likely involved in other ministries within the church outside of the main worship service. Likewise, there are actually some ministries within the church which have a higher ratio of unbelievers than others. These ministries will include all of children’s, youth, student and even special ministries. In the case of these particular ministries which ought to be an active part of church life, there must be an established philosophy of evangelism within each area’s philosophy of ministry. The inclusion of this information will enable the individual ministries to evaluate their participation in this purpose/mission of the church as a whole as well as ensuring that the philosophy of the particular ministry doesn’t undermine the work of a local churches outreach with the Kid's MinistryGospel.

In closing, I would like to recommend this book to any and all who would like to see how evangelism is an activity which is not only engaged by individual Christians, but rather how evangelism should be a pervasive attitude of every ministry within the local Church.

 

 

  • Brad

    I have found that the #1 failure of the church in terms of evangelism is simply that believers are so focused on believers that they have no meaningful relationships with unbelievers! I am still struggling through what it means to be part of the life of a church and at the same time have meaningful relationships with unbelievers. Any thoughts?

    • Eric Dodson

      Hey Brad, Thanks for reading and interacting. My first thought is . . . don’t assume everyone in your church is a believer. Scripture makes clear (Matthew 7) that many are deceived. An overlooked part of evangelism is preaching the Gospel to the churched. Second, I would say be intentional in all of your relationships. Some examples can be: (1) go grocery shopping at the same store, at the same time, and use the same line as much as possible. You’re bound to build a casual relationship with your checker, and they’re a captive audience while your being checked out. Share the gospel in those times. (2) Learn to strike up conversations with wait-staff at restaurants. They’re likely to listen because they want a big tip (which you should give) and you can plant a gospel seed with them. (3) Listen and care about your coworkers. Get to know them, their lives, and their concerns. This will present several chances to share the Gospel.

      Just a few examples to get you thinking. Thanks again for the interaction!

  • pastorandylynch

    Brad (& Eric) thanks for the comments. Brad I completely understand your frustration as many in the church tend to be inwardly focused all the time. And as Eric points out we sometimes tend to think just because someone is there with us that they are Christians as well.
    I would propose to you that this “rule of three” might be of use to you personally in your desire to reach the lost (by the way I am borrowing this from a recent blog post by Thomas Rainer)
    #1) Be involved in a friendship with an unbeliever for the express purpose of pointing him to the Gospel;
    #2) Be involved in a friendship with an older/more spiritually mature Believer for the express purpose of being sharpened in the faith to include the area of presenting the Gospel to a lost and dying world;
    #3) Be involved in a friendship with a young/less spiritually mature Believer for the express purpose of being a sharpener to him in the faith. In this way you can interact with and evangelize the lost, be matured, and pass on what you have learned as well as your habits of obedience to God’s Word (like evangelism).
    I hope this helps you out and if not hit us back here in the moments section!