Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus More Believable
Reviewed By: David Berg
What is the subject?
Chan provides a practical tool for Christians desiring to apply evangelism in their day-to-day lives. He begins with the importance of understanding the gospel and quickly moves into how we can share this good news with those living in a secular world. “My hope is that this book will help us to be aware of our prejudices about methods of evangelism and to explore different methods and appreciate their strengths,” he writes.
Who is the author?
Sam Chan and his wife Stephanie have three sons. He is a physician, theologian, and evangelist who diagnoses our culture accurately and prescribes persuasive ways to share our faith. Born in Hong Kong, he lives in Australia. Working for City Bible Forum, he speaks to a wide variety of audiences on topics of evangelism, preaching, story telling, and apologetics.
Why this book?
We can often feel overwhelmed with the importance of doing evangelism or sharing the gospel with those around us. The issue is that we feel ill equipped in knowing exactly how to tell our friends about Jesus’ love. We end up feeling guilty as we believe we should be sharing God’s love, but struggle to know how to do this with our communities and friends. Chan looks at strategies and methods of evangelism based on biblical models and years of study and experience.
A significant teaching in the book is the importance of knowing both the person and the gospel to share effectively. Cognitive thinkers, intuitive thinkers, and concrete-relational thinkers all respond differently to the presentation of the gospel. Learning the individual’s personal story will equip us to know how to share the gospel more effectively and to contextualize the gospel.
Comment on the book’s theological perspective in light of the MB Confession of Faith.
As Mennonite Brethren, we believe the church has a mission to make disciples of all nations (as found in the Great Commission and reiterated in our Confession of Faith). To fulfill this mission, God has graciously given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to be witnesses to God’s salvation. Chan uses this same theology in his presentation on evangelism and gives us a biblical perspective on why sharing God’s love is important.
Where the book fails
Chan’s target for evangelism is the Western world. He only briefly opens up the dialogue about non-Western-thinking ethnic groups. Though the theories and principles of the book can work in many contexts, it would have been great to hear more of the cross-cultural methods of evangelism as many different ethnic groups are integrating into the western world.
Other relevant information
Evangelism in a Skeptical World comes with a DVD series which can be used in Bible study groups or teaching series on evangelism. Together, the book and DVD series are a powerful means to equip all believers to reach others for Christ.
Within the book there are many useful, practical tools to help in crafting your own testimony, showing different methods of a clear gospel presentation, preaching tips, and ways to evangelize a post-Christian, secular world.
Sam Chan also blogs at espressotheology.com.
Who should read it?
Evangelism should be a natural extension of who we are as Christians, but today we seem to be focusing mostly on programs, events, or structures. While these can be useful, they can’t replace our ability to know our audience and be able to contextualize the message in everyday life situations.
We live in a postmodern world where tolerance is the new measure of moral good. Intolerance, according to the mainstream worldview, is not only synonymous with hatred, but is also considered morally evil. As believers, it is important to know how to share the love of Jesus to people living within this worldview by being authentic in all aspects of our life and reaching out with hospitality. To break down barriers, we must step forward with love and integrity.
Chan explains this process in detail and empowers readers to use our own stories to share effectively.
“This is also true when we present the gospel. It’s the same story—God’s story—true for all people, at all times, in all places. But the Bible gives us different ways of explaining it to different audiences and different people.” (pg 65)
“If we understand another person’s culture, then we have a better chance of being understood. We will also seek to be sensitive and not unnecessarily offend them…’To tell the gospel to Johnny, we need to know both the gospel and Johnny.’ We need to know both the gospel and Johnny’s culture.” (pg 132)
[David, along with his wife and three children are currently living in Austria and resourcing the church in Europe and Central Asia. He holds a BA from Bethany College and MA in leadership from TWU. More importantly, he loves Jesus and is committed to using his gifts in God’s kingdom around the world.