Tuesday 25 June 2013

David Male and Paul Weston on Evangelism

I wrote the below review for LICC’s EG 35 (June 2013), available online here. I had a 300-word limit, which didn’t feel quite long enough to say just how much I enjoyed reading the book! Thanks too to BRF for the review copy.

David Male and Paul Weston, The Word’s Out: Speaking the Gospel Today (Abingdon: BRF, 2013), 176pp., ISBN 9780857461698.

You’re not alone. That is, if you struggle with evangelism, you’re not alone. At the same time that our non-Christian friends, neighbours and colleagues know less and less about the biblical story, we feel less and less able to convey it to them. In some cases, it comes down to a fear of rejection (even litigation) or risk of embarrassment. We don’t consider ourselves clever enough to answer all the tricky questions that will come our way, and sense we will only feel like we’re letting Jesus down (again). Best to stay silent.

So it is that David Male and Paul Weston combine their expertise and experience in a desire to see evangelism reinvigorated in today’s church. Two opening chapters explore the changing shape of evangelism, and the impact of contemporary culture on the way we do it. The two main parts of the book then reflect on evangelism from a biblical perspective, and evangelism and the local church. What emerges is the encouragement to see evangelism as ‘the natural overflow of an authentic Christian life’ – not as a ‘bolt on’ Christian activity, but as organically connected to the whole of life.

I particularly appreciated the prompt to be ‘inside-out’ evangelists, those who seek to demonstrate the claims of Jesus from within the Christian ‘narrative’ itself rather than trying to establish the truth of that narrative on some other grounds (science, logic, etc.). Here the call is to follow Jesus’ own practice of engaging with those around him, with the aim of leading the discussion back to Jesus himself, where replies to people are along the lines of: ‘It’s interesting you say that... Jesus was asked a similar question and he said...’ Here and elsewhere, I found the book to be biblically rooted, insightful, challenging and encouraging in equal measure.

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