I think (hope?) that by now most Christians realize that evangelism isn’t about delivering some canned presentation—let alone about smashing nonbelievers to bits with our “unassailable” arguments—but about sharing the hope we have in Christ, the hope He has given us. Still, many of us have problems articulating that hope, or in believing that what Christ has given us is enough for someone else. If you’re one of those people, this book is for you.
(The obligatory disclaimer: I was editor for this book. Well, of course I was. :))
One huge point of the book is that evangelism is a team sport. The opening quarter of the book, “The Gospel We Share,” lays the groundwork for what’s to come. The linchpin for the entire book, in fact, is the discussion of Luke 7 that closes this section, and John Leonard sums it up nicely in this passage:
It’s remarkable that each time Jesus steps down and identifies with sinners and their suffering, there is a corresponding elevation and revelation of who Jesus Christ is. If I were God and wanted to prove it to the world, I might do it by some big flashy event—maybe write my name in the sky. But God chooses to do it by identifying with the suffering and the sinful—identifying with us….
We practice “personal evangelism,” “friendship evangelism,” or “one-on-one evangelism.” We indoctrinate our children at an early age to this individual approach. Every child who has ever attended a Vacation Bible School and sung the chorus, “I Will Make You Fishers of Men,” has been taught that evangelism is something we do by ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with the words of the chorus; after all, they come straight out of the Bible. It’s the choreography…. [O]ur Lord was not speaking about fishing with a rod when he called the disciples to follow him. He was talking to fishermen who used nets. When you fish with nets, you must fish together.
The latter three-quarters of the book, “A Real Approach to Sharing the Gospel,” delivers on this. Whether it’s through relationship, parties, prayer, listening, or giving nonbelievers a taste and leave them wanting more (rather than plowing them over with EVERYTHING THEY NEED TO KNOW), there’s a entry point somewhere to grab onto.
One interesting concept here is the idea, “evangelize Christians and disciple non-Christians.” It sounds backwards to us, but you’ll get it by the time you’re done reading about it. As believers, we need to hear the Gospel fresh; and nonbelievers need to have it broken down and fleshed out in order to believe it—with relationship every step of the way. Plus, guess what you have once you’ve discipled someone to Christ? That’s right: a disciple, rather than a baby Christian with no foundation and no support system, which we see far too often in the church these days.
Anotehr unique aspect of the book is its approach to ministry to Muslims. The final chapter deals directly with this issue, but as this has been a big part of John’s calling it’s peppered throughout the book as well. And again, it points back to living our faith as we share it. Too often, we do one to the exclusion of the other.
In short, there’s a lot of mental paradigm shifts to enjoy and absorb here. A lot of this may well be stuff you’ve probably grasped on one level—but haven’t yet grasped how to actually apply it. Get Real will help you to cross that bridge as well.