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When it comes to evangelism, we often struggle. Maybe it’s the inertia that comes with feeling out of practice. Or perhaps it’s the age-old presence of fear that keeps us from speaking truth in love. Sometimes, a low-level guilt over countless missed opportunities tempts us to despair of trying at all.
In Before You Share Your Faith—a follow-up to Before You Open Your Bible—Matt Smethurst presents five ways you can become “evangelism ready.” While many good books begin further downstream by teaching how to evangelize, this volume will help you be primed for when the moment arrives. Because if you aren’t ready to share your faith . . . you probably won’t.
Casting light on five key foundations—grasp the gospel, check your context, love the lost, face your fear, and start to speak—this resource will deepen your desire and enhance your readiness to share the best news anyone could ever hear.
"When I was a new Christian 50 years ago I read two little booklets by John Stott on personal evangelism that changed my life. Matt Smethurst has written a short book on the same subject that is every bit as good as those older essays but of course far more up to date. Read it—it could change your life!"Tim Keller, Redeemer City to City
There are many books on evangelism, but this book is written with the premise that the biggest barrier to evangelism is actually us. All too often, we make excuses to ourselves and keep silent. Matt Smethurst tackles this head on. First, we must grasp how wonderful the Gospel, otherwise why would we share it with anybody? Smethurst uses an outline headed the Ruler, the Revolt, the Rescue, and the Response, which works well. Other frameworks are also available, such as Two Ways to Live, and internalising one helps us to remember and communicate the key points. To do that successfully, we need to understand where our audience is at. In other words, contextualisation is needed. Once we have established where the truth of the Gospel has best resonance with people’s lives, we can use that as a bridge, with the Spirit’s help, to create Gospel categories in their minds where they do not exist. Smethurst then moves to the heart of the issue with two chapters on love and fear. The honest truth is that we don’t tell people the good news of Jesus Christ because we don’t love them. Lack of love can also spoil evangelism either by viewing people as projects without relationship, or by allowing friendship to crowd out sharing the Gospel. Thankfully “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4.19). Thankfully too the Lamb is our shepherd (Revelation 7.17). That truth helps immensely in the face of fear, which Satan works to inspire in us. Good suggestions here are not waiting for the perfect moment, but just jumping in, and to be involved in evangelism with others, such as a team in a church. And then prayerfully start to speak. Prayer shows that we depend on God. Speaking is our responsibility as we answer questions and ask our own to uncover hidden idols. I would recommend this book to think about the heart issues in us that stop us sharing the Gospel with the ultimate motivation of the glory of God.
Personal evangelism is an important part of Christian discipleship that often strikes fear and trepidation into the hearts of many Christians. This makes “Before You Share Your Faith” an extremely helpful little book in preparing to share the Gospel. The book begins by ensuring that we have grasped what the Gospel actually is – to quote the theologian R.C. Sproul, “Your testimony isn’t the Gospel!” Before we share our faith we need to be clear about what the Gospel is! We also need to think about who the target audience is in order to explain the Gospel in a way that is clear and relatable to the hearer without changing its message: “When it comes to the Gospel, we don’t dress it up in order to make it cool, we break it down in order to make it clear.” (p27) The chapters “Love the Lost” and “Face Your Fear” also remind the reader that love casts out fear and fills our hearts with compassion for the lost. The author encourages the building of friendships to share the Gospel rather than just treating people as evangelism projects, but also warns of the potential to create friendships with unbelievers without getting round to sharing the Gospel. There are also practical suggestions to evangelise in groups in order to overcome fear and awkwardness – learning from others who are more confident in sharing their faith and being accountable to one another. Lastly, the final chapter “Start to speak” reminds us of the vital importance of prayer in preparation of evangelism and being willing to take risks in order to share the Gospel with others. In conclusion, this book is an excellent resource in helping those who want to step out more in their personal evangelism. As the author himself stresses in this book – it is not a “how to guide” for evangelism, but rather a helpful book in preparing you to step out in sharing your faith. It does this extremely well and was an inspiring read! Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from 10ofthose in exchange for an honest review.
This little book is a treasure trove of resources for thinking through how to share the gospel with someone, whilst making sure that you know it for yourself first! The author has researched his content well and uses little grey–scale boxes to challenge the reader with statements or questions. The book is practical and would lend itself to being used as a home group study. Read it to be challenged but to be helped too.
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