Really Good News (Evangelism for Normal People)

Evangelism.

What comes to mind?

Some pretty negative images probably flash across our synapses: yelling street preachers, awkward conversations with a stranger in a park, anxiety pushing its way up the trachea. I generally don’t use the term “evangelical” about myself when talking with people who aren’t “evangelicals” because it has baggage for a lot of people.

So when I heard Jonathan Dodson had a new mini-book out (called Unbelievable Gospel: How to Share a Gospel Worth Believing), I wanted to read it. I met Jonathan last summer. He’s a down-to-earth, approachable guy who smells a bit like Jesus.

Full disclosure: he let me download his new book for free, with a request to review it, no other strings attached. As an author, I know the drill—you get others to review your book so that others hear about it. But you don’t control what’s said about your book. You might get panned or slammed. But if you believe in your work, you’re willing to give it away occasionally so that more people hear about it.

Dodson rightly points out that Christians ought to share their faith. Jesus made some pretty outrageous claims that, if true, matter immensely to each of us. And followers of Jesus need to share that good news with others.

But he’s right on, too, that thoughtful, loving people are sometimes have concerns about evangelism. They don’t want it to be:

  • preachy,
  • impersonal,
  • intolerant,
  • know-it-all, or
  • shallow

For each of these, he gives some framing, a “gospel metaphor” (a relevant theological point), and a story from his own humble journey in sharing good news with other people.

My favorite quotes:

  1. (How he would share the gospel with someone if given only an hour, quoting Francis Schaeffer): “I will spend the first fifty-five minutes asking questions and finding out what is troubling their heart and mind, and then in the last five minutes will I share something of the truth.”
  2. …through our mindless, impatient, and unwise evangelism, we pile stones on top of their graves… Joining the Spirit, we can roll up our sleeves, listen for hours, and remove the stones.
  3. Church and doctrine make for very bad gods and will eventually disappoint.
  4. Preachy self-righteousness isn’t just a turn off; it’s the opposite of the gospel.
  5. What people need to hear is grace, audacious, seems-too-good-to-be-true but so-true-its-good, grace. (Tweet this.)
  6. The gospel is offensive; it lifts up a mirror and shows us who we really are, but it’s also redemptive; it lifts up Christ to show us who we can become.
  7. When Christians press mute, people are left to make up their own versions of Christianity.
  8. To minimize the workplace to a platform for evangelism is to reduce Jesus to a half-hearted redeemer, unconcerned with his creation.
  9. We should be eager to learn from others not be fearful or condemning of them.
  10. Meaningful conversation is in short supply, and of all people, Christians should have meaningful conversations with others. (Tweet this.)
  11. Disciples who are humbly secure in Jesus are compelling.
  12. People need to see our hope burn in our bones. (Tweet this.)

I didn’t want to share 12 quotes. But Dodson’s writing is so smart and conversational that I had a hard time getting down even that far.

If you are not really sharing your faith with your friends, I think Unbelievable Gospel will be help you out.

Which of the concerns about evangelism above is the greatest in your mind? Why?

 


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