Getting Equipped for Evangelism
Getting Equipped for Evangelism
Pastor Jeff VanGoethem
I have a suggested list of books below, but it needs a little explanation. I have not given a resource on an evangelistic method. For many years when it came time to verbalize the gospel with someone, I used the simple “Good News, Bad News” outline created by EvanTell founder Larry Moyer. I learned and sort of memorized this method in the classroom many years ago when I was a student at Dallas Seminary. It proved effective, providing good introductory, transitional and concluding questions and statements, as well as a simple outline of the gospel, with suggested illustrations.
In more recent days, I have been more inclined to reach for “The Story” materials produced by Spread Truth. I find this method conveys the gospel very effectively to the modern mindset. And the beauty of it is, it teaches the gospel as a story and you can easily incorporate some of the other methods you may have used in sharing the gospel. For example, I have used The Story material and then also used certain language with it that comes from the “Good News, Bad News” method. So if you are lacking a method, or if you have just never learned how to walk through the gospel with someone, or if you are looking for something new, I would suggest either of these resources. You can get a good explanation of the Good News, Bad News method at www.evantell.org/pages/badnewsgoodnews.aspx. You can get a look at “The Story” approach right on our own Scofield website at The Story. You can also check out the Spread Truth website at www.spreadtruth.com. Pastor Rex will be leading a special elective on The Story method of evangelism in the CBS hour beginning in March. He will cover the booklet as well as the very effective “conversation card” which is part of this approach. I hope we have a GREAT BIG CLASS as this material is super!
Aside from mastering a method, which I think is necessary for every Christian serious about evangelism, I think to evangelize in today’s world, you also have to be as equipped as possible in other ways. Generally speaking, people are coming to Christ in our country and city but they are coming slower and with more questions and with more difficulty than in times past. There is a need to have continuing conversations with people over time; and to carry out each of those conversations as graciously as possible.
Today, evangelism takes patience, kindness, and yes, boldness, as well as time and effort. We cannot expect to be reaping every day. There is a lot of sowing. It takes consistency and perseverance. So I am giving you below a broad spectrum of suggested books. Each of them comes at it from a bit of a different direction, as I explain below, but all taken together, I think they comprise a helpful package in equipping us and getting us more ready for evangelizing people around us today. They are not all by definition books on how to verbally evangelize. You have that in the methods above. What you have below are books that help us to get into the proper mindset for evangelism in the modern world.
True Evangelism: Winning Souls by Prayer. Lewis Sperry Chafer. This older book has always been part of the foundation for me, it helps us with a proper theological perspective on evangelism. Chafer, the found of Dallas Seminary and pastor of Scofield Church in the 1920’s, was an itinerant evangelist for much of his ministry career. In this book he supplies us with some clear theological perspective on evangelism, such as the necessity of clear-minded, Spirit-wrought conversions without manipulation. He decries a number of what he calls false forces in evangelism (many of them are still with us today). He also points us to the necessity of praying for souls. This book will deepen your theology of evangelism.
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. David Platt. This more recent book challenges us on the level of life’s priorities. It is spiritual preparation for evangelism. It boldly asks the question of modern American Christians: “are we living for the building of God’s kingdom or our own?” If we are going to be involved with evangelism and doing God’s work, we are going to have to get our lives and priorities right. Spending time with people, focusing on the non-materialistic matters of life, being willing to minister to others, etc. must become part of our lifestyles. This book will be a help and challenge to us on these kinds of personal issues.
Learning about Evangelism: Turning Good Intentions into Life Changing Reality. Mike Hencher. This is a simple, practical little book by an experienced evangelist. It has short chapters all focused on just plain getting more effective and more involved in evangelism. It helps us see how we can develop a more evangelistic lifestyle touching on subjects like communicating with and understanding people, fears, friendships with non-Christians, kindness, love, patience, etc. I don’t know that I would agree with every word in the book but I think it gives very practical help on many issues related to developing an evangelistic lifestyle. It is very easy and very encouraging material.
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Timothy Keller. This is an excellent work by a well-known pastor in New York City. Some might call it a book on apologetics. Maybe it is. But it seems to me what Keller is doing is trying to provide reasonable answers for many of the common questions being asked by those who have not yet believed in the Lord. He does an excellent job of this. One of the fears we have in evangelism is that someone is going to challenge us with a question we cannot answer, whether it is about suffering, the existence of God, hell, judgment or something else. Chances are Keller has dealt with most questions you might hear as you share the gospel with people. This book will help us bementally prepared for evangelism. As you get busy with evangelism and discussing the things of the faith with other people, keep this book handy.
There are many more books on evangelism. I would be interested in hearing from you what books have been helpful. Please send me a note. Let me challenge you with this: get these four books and read them over the rest of this year. That might be a great follow up to our month long emphasis on evangelism and keep your mind and heart engaged once we move beyond this special month. Remember what God’s Word says, “in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect...” (1 Peter 3:15-16a).