19 July 2012

Pyro brain trust forum: evangelism

by Dan Phillips

I'm sorry. I do have a number of posts marinating, but none is "done" yet. This Sunday's sermon is on spiritual gifts — yep, everything that can be brought from the Bible on that entire topic in one sermon. Sermon outline handout is two pages. So that's fun, and challenging.

Also, I'm prepping a Hither and Thither (a popular feature) for tomorrow on my own little blog.

So that leaves us with just enough time for another visit to the Brain Trust.

All Biblically-faithful churches are concerned with evangelism. I'd say if they aren't, they don't fit the description.

That said, how to do it? Hand out tracts in parking lots? Go door to door? Study groups?

So let me ask you two questions:
  1. What is the best book you've ever read on personal evangelism, and what makes it so excellent?
  2. What is the best book you've ever read — or approach you know — on corporate/church evangelism, and what makes it so excellent? (Include here what approaches your church has found fruitful.)
Thanks, should be profitable.

Dan Phillips's signature


Frank Turk said...

On both counts, I recommend the 9Marks new series out:

10 study guides for a healthy church

Frank Turk said...


10 guides

Frank Turk said...

Reason? Because this is an integrated approach to the life of a healthy church from evangelism to discipline and all in between.

JackW said...

On both counts, I would recommend Exploring Christianity by the Good Book Company. It’s a book/website/ bible study/DVD and can be used personally or in a church.

The reason I like it is that it gets people reading God’s Work for themselves. It is basically a study of the book of Mark. What you win them with is what you win them to.

JackW said...

I'm sorry ... that should be Christianity Explored.

Haste makes waste.

Manfred said...

I like Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer.

Packer (this is early Packer, and quite good) lays our the tension between man's responsibility and God's sovereignty as it relates to evangelism. He points out and holds to the doctrines of grace (known as the 5 points of Calvinism) but rightly acknowledges that these do not affect who we witness to; and also emphasizes that, because of them, we can be assured of success. Those who believe in a God who tries to save are slaves to their own efforts to save people who are dead in sin and at war with God. We cannot do what only God can do. And this book is a great encouragement to anyone who loves the Lord and wants to obey Him.

Jason Dohm said...

May I cheat and recommend "Revival and Revivalism" by Ian Murray? It isn't about evangelism per se, but it unfolds how we find ourselves in the modern mess as a result of a corrupt form of evangelism that produces a disproportionate number of false conversions. Eye-opening read.

Tim Bertolet said...

1. I like Horatius Bonar's Words to Winners of Souls. I think it is something every pastor and even every layman should read.

2. I don't know if it is 'thee' best way, but we recently encouraged people at our church to join the Pocket Testament League.

I found with tracts, I spent a lot of time debating which was the right one to carry. We've encouraged our people at church to "Read, Carry and Share".

Of course, it doesn't do much if you don't actually engage people in conversation but we've had 'success' in the sense of people taking and giving out Gospels of John. I think if you are carrying a Gospel of John with you, you become more aware of people around you--but that's just my humble opinion.

Nash Equilibrium said...

How-to: Our pastor encouraged us to resolve to talk to unsaved people we actually know (co-workers, friends, acquaintanences, etc) about the salvation message. Just about everyone participated (a big plus in my mind) because everyone knows somebody.

Books: The WOTM series, and the Share Jesus Without Fear methods are easily understood and in my opinion, effective. I don't see any reason why a person couldn't combine both methods, actually.

Manfred said...

I used to support and use gospels from the Pocket Testament League. But each of the gospels has the Arminian sinner's path to peace with God in it and the league thinks man can be saved by culture.

Chris H said...

On both accounts, I'm going to recommend the Bible. That way, I'm the most pious.

Turn out the lights, folks. We're done here.


Nash Equilibrium said...

None of us thought about that book up to now! Ouch!

Stephen Rodgers said...

On the issue of personal evangelism...Mark Dever's *The Gospel and Personal Evangelism.* I made the mistake of initially thinking that because that book was short, it would be superficial, and it is anything but. I also think his outline of the subject matter is one of the better ones I've ever seen.

In regards to method/church...Will Metzger's *Tell the Truth.* IMO, this is one of the most exegetically focused books on the subject, and it does an excellent job of keeping you out of the twin ditches of robotic programaticism on one hand and unprincipled freewheeling on the other.

Finally, good and godly men have repeatedly mentioned Packer's book *Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God* (mentioned previously in the comments), but I haven't gotten around to that one yet.

Manfred said...

Stephen, I whole heartedly agree with the recommendation of Metzger's book. The chart comparing the biblical gospel with the man-centered "gospel" is golden, and can be found here: http://thelightheartedcalvinist.com/2011/08/03/will-metzger-man-centered-vs-god-centered-views-of-the-gospel/

APM said...

1. Let the Nations Be Glad! by Piper.

2. Grace Evangelism by Grace Church. *However I did not go through the book in its current format. I took a class at The Master's College which contained a similar format.

Robert said...

1. I agree with Stephen's choice as a good resource, but I will go with "Marks of the Messenger", by J. Mack Stiles. Stiles has been involved in evangelism...both in the Us and the Middle East...and here he details the heart of the evangelist and tasks us with examining our hearts and attitudes. Just go look it up and read some reviews and you'll see that most people have the same reaction. It is a good book to get people to examine themselves and look at how the gospel affects (or should affect) their lives.

2. Our church has actually put together an evangelism team to coordinate some direct efforts in our area. We have evangelized and handed out water and tracts at a car show, gone door to door, and organized back yard Bible studies in neighborhoods. We are also looking to bring people along into street preaching/evangelism and trying to be mindful of area churches to direct people to (as Frank addressed the need for in his message). I wouldn't say it is perfect, but we're trying to get people involved at different levels (labeling water bottles, preparing bags for the homeless, etc.) so that we are all serving. We also have a group of college/career age members who go to a halfway house once a month or so to evangelize and provide a free meal (burgers and hot dogs). A few will share their testimony and then break off and have one-on-one talks with people there. Basically, we're trying different approaches, but from an organized group so as to be effective. And we have more experienced people spend time with people newer to evangelism so as to encourage them.

Frank Recinos said...

How-to: Speaking About Jesus by J.Mack Stiles, and People Sharing Jesus. Practical ways of sharing, and

Content of the gospel: I would use something like 2 ways to live once I get to talking about the gospel message.

Frank Rollberg said...

I like Today's Gospel Authentic or synthetic by Walter J Chantry
A banner of truth book.

Sir Aaron said...

I've really noticed that most books on evangelism talk about the need to do so, but are very short on how to create opportunities to do so. I mean I can pledge to talk to 8 people I know, but half of them think they are already Christian so that creates its own challenges in a discussion and the other half will present a challenge to having a conversation that ends "no, thank you" in the first two seconds. That's one of the problems with handing out tracts. They wind up all over the street. Then you have the problem of what you do with the 8 people after you've tried and they've blown you off. I think that is why WOTM is so popular. It is terrific at creating situations where people stop and converse.

Jenny said...

On the lines of pocket league, that stuff tears out great and can be replaced by a real tract explaining repentance and faith.

Magister Stevenson said...

As for best book on personal evangelism, I vote for Witnessing to Jews by Milton B. Lindberg (a bit obscure). What makes it so great? He has obvious knowledge and compassion for his audience, he does not shrink from using scripture, he places great importance on the evangelist having compassion and using scripture, and his gospel is biblical. And while the focus of the book is limited, I found it easy to transfer what I learned to others.
For church-wide evangelism, I stuck in a tie between The Master Plan of Discipleship (Robert E. Coleman) and The Disciple Making Pastor (Bill Hull). Both place the initial responsibility on the pastor/elder and wisely recommend a church start small with those who are committed and work out to the rest of the congregation. Books that start wide may sound great, but the practice (by my observation, I admit) ends up at the least common denominator. In such situations, the gospel becomes something like "I invited my friend to church" or "I told my neighbor I am a Christian."
I was a big proponent of WOTM and used it in open air evangelism for several years. I really like it, but my experience was that it produced clones, not disciples.

Chris Anderson said...

Metzger's book is great. I think many books/programs deal more with strategies and how to's. Often that approach comes off as inauthentic, IMO. The starting point is understanding the gospel accurately and thoroughly, and too many Christians don't. Metzgers book (and more importantly, solid preaching) deals with this.

As to what TCBC does, well, not a lot corporately. On purpose. We've preached for years that our assembly *is* our outreach ministry. "Every member ministry." I want Christians sharing the gospel in real life, not through an annual event. That may sound pious, but I'm dead serious. Many of our members are new converts, by God's grace, and most of them came to Christ and to our church as a result of friends and family members who understand and are enthusiastic about the gospel themselves. That's the key. If you genuinely love the gospel, you won't need to learn a canned presentation. It'll be second nature to talk about it. Works for us, by God's grace.

One more thing. The most evangelistic churches I know of are pastored by the most evangelistic pastors I know. Exemplify it, both from the pulpit and in private. Pray with your body about it. Demonstrate a passion for souls for the glory of God. They'll catch it.

Chris Anderson said...

So much for "one more thing."

I do think it's helpful to equip people with the "essentials" of the gospel message in simple sequence (e.g. God, sin, Christ, faith & repentance).

donsands said...

"God cannot bear witness to a lie. The Gospel, therefore, which He confirms must be true in substance. There may be opinions maintained at the same time which are exactly true; and who can secure from these? Perhaps I thought myself so once: when I was much younger than I am now, I thought myself almost infallible; but I bless God I know myself better now."- John Wesley

"From the harm done by dogmatism of controversies over secondary issues the devil then tempts other Christians, who observe it, to abandon contending for the faith altogether."-Iain H. Murray (Evangelicalism Divided)

If the Body of Christ, in the local church keeps preaching the Word, in it's fullness, then this will be the most blessed way to show our Lord we long to reach His lost sheep. And of course as we are filled up with this Gospel and His Spirit, the Church will use it's gifts to minister in a dark world.

The Father seeks those who will honor and worship Him in truth and Spirit.

have a great weekend, and Lord's Day!

Godschild7403 said...

Hell's Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort and the Way of The Master curriculum.

The Way of the Master curriculum helped to explain the use of the law and how it shows us our sin and the need for The Savior. It also gives us a way to bring up Jesus in a way that explains the whole Gospel message and not just John 3:16. I find to many Christians just saying Jesus loves you and look at all the wonderful things He's done in my life and not even explaining why a person needs Jesus to be saved.

Chris Dean said...

A little-known, but most excellent book on this subject is 'Biblical Strategies for Witness' by Dr. Peter Masters, the successor to Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. I regularly street preach and evangelize and have read many well-known evangelism books and in my opinion, Dr. Master's little book is the most complete and concise about biblically encouraging oneself to witness and includes various strategies for various kinds of unbelievers.

It is a most excellent book and can be previewed at Amazon here: http://amzn.to/NBO0PT

Anonymous said...

Reason to Believe by RC Sproll was the book that opened my son's eyes when nothing else had worked.

When our Pastor taught through Systematic Theology for two years, the whole church grew in a way that I never experienced before in 50 years of church. Solid, non-stop growth in membership and in brotherhood. Had to build a new childrens building for all the youngsters having babies.

JackW said...

I was sure someone was going to mention #TWTG, but ...

DJP said...

Of course I always love to see someone mention it, but it doesn't fit what I'm asking for. It's not a method-book.

DJP said...

...although it could be used if one were doing an unrushed series of classes introducing the Gospel, particularly wanting to ground it in the whole Bible as a worldview. But honestly, even I didn't think of it for what I'm asking about.

yankeegospelgirl said...

Greg Koukl's _Tactics_ is a good practical manual about having effective conversations with people who may be unsympathetic to your faith. Lots of good advice, chapter study guides, etc. My dad is a friend of Greg's---they're both involved in apologetics.

Kerry James Allen said...

I just finished re-reading Spurgeon's "The Soul Winner" which while not containing methodology has certainly been used of God in my cold heart in recent days. Given the fact that we will have dozens of opportunities weekly to witness to people but without Bibles at hand, I would say some methodology is always helpful but will certainly be improved by committing several dozen salvation Scriptures to memory to be able to quickly share a word in due season.

Kerry James Allen said...

I might also add that the young man who brought me to Christ followed a very clear and structured soul winning presentation with plenty of appropriate Scripture at each point. Almost forty years later I still remember his skillful use of the Word and how God used him to present a clear Gospel to this sinner. I took Evangelism Explosion (D. James Kennedy) training a few years back and that plan was used to bring many to faith but it is a rather complicated program.

pastorbrianculver said...

Please bear with me a little bit here...

The Bible first and foremost. Where else could you get the proper training than from Jesus himself or from the Apostle Paul, Peter, Timothy, etc.

WOTM is used secondly. It provides ways to engage someone in a conversation about heaven, hell, Jesus, sin, salvation, repentance. The list goes on and on.

When it comes to evangelism. It must be started with prayer. Allow God to direct your paths, allow Him to bring people to you. Allow Him to give you boldness to speak. Allow Him to do it all through you!

All sorts of "methods" can work, but if it is done without love for the lost person, then it will fail. God's Word will not return void, it will accomplish its job according to God's will. In everything we do in word and in deed, we do it unto the Lord.

If our motivation to reaching the lost is so we can say, "look at me, I saved three people today" then more than likely, you have done your part to create false converts. But if your motivation is to honor God, to bring Glory to God and to be pleasing to God, then you will see some positive results. Not everyone will want to listen to you, but God will be pleased with your efforts. I pray with think more about what pleases God than what pleases us.

thank you all for your ideas. I have not heard of some of them. God bless

Craig Schwarze said...

From Australia - "Know and Tell the Gospel" by John Chapman is considered a classic

Craig Schwarze said...

However, I have to say that I've seen few people converted through the sorts of one to one evangelism promoted in these books.

From experience, those who can do it don't need a book, and those that can't are not much helped by a book.

What *is* effective, is those alpha-style courses, done over multiple weeks over dinner. There are two from here that have good reformed theology -

Simply Christianty by John Dickson
Introducing God by Dominic Steele

We use IG at our church, and we've seen dozens of people become Christians via it over a 10 year period.

Dan, I would suggest you invest your time in something like that, rather than individual evanglism training.