Last year, I signed up for an Evangelism Conference in Edinburgh. It was on a Saturday morning. As a minister, I have always battled to keep Saturdays as my day off (ahem, in theory anyway), so when the day actually came round, I found myself dragging my feet. It had been a busy month for events, and this seemed like on conference too many. I am so grateful to God that he overcame my reluctant feet (and heart, if I’m honest).
Randy Newman was the speaker – a senior teaching fellow for evangelism and apologetics at the SC Lewis Institute in Washington. He introduced himself as a reluctant evangelist. (You had to be there!) It immediately got my attention. I expected the usual guilt-inducing truisms that would ensure that I came away feeling useless and guilty at my poor efforts to share Christ with others. I was very wrong. You know the moment that you hear someone, or read something that makes you shout ‘Yes, that’s exactly how I feel’? A eureka moment. I had one at the conference. I came away so challenged, uplifted and encouraged – I had to read his book.
There are so many books being published – surely we must be discerning and with time being so short, only read the ones that stand out. This book absolutely stands out for me. It is fresh, helpful, empathetic, biblical, funny and practical. It scratches where I itch with the challenge of personal evangelism. Its premise is using the power of questions to engage people in spiritual conversation in a post Christian world. It reflects deep and common sense biblical wisdom and challenges our sometimes simplistic notion of simply machine gunning truth to whoever is in front of us – regardless of their circumstances or needs.
And as a bonus, it is funny. He uses self-deprecating humour to expose his own evangelic faux-pas. His razor sharp wit, interspersing such a weighty subject, made the book a joy to read. It is the kind of book I will read again and again. It has helped, encouraged and changed me. I wish it had been written 30 years ago and I had read it at the start of my life in ministry. I have still so much to learn!
This book is available from the Good Book Company.
Derek Lamont, St Columba's Free Church, Edinburgh