Evangelism is hard. It feels extra hard in the world we live in where there are all sorts of ideas and behaviours that seem to make belief in the good news of Jesus almost impossible for the people we love. It can be hard to figure out where to begin a conversation with your friends, let alone what to say. Enter Sam Chan’s new book. Sam spent many years as a lecturer at the Sydney Missionary and Bible College teaching people how to preach the good news of Jesus, and he’s now an evangelist with the City Bible Forum (based in Sydney).
This book is something like a ‘textbook’ for evangelists – both those who are professional preachers, and the regular Christian who wants to be better equipped to shape both our lives and our speech when it comes to sharing the Gospel with others.
It’s a book you can dip into for practical tips on writing or sharing your testimony, for how you’d put together a short talk, or for how to answer questions about what we believe (the preaching team is using lots of the insights from this book in our upcoming Got Questions series – it’s the number one resource for that series).
But it’s not just a guide to ‘speaking’; especially not just for professionals, it has whip smart diagnosis of the world we live in and why belief is less plausible, and tips for how we can all work together as Christians to build plausibility for the Gospel in how we shape our communities and re-think the task of evangelism.
The best, most life-changing advice from the book is the suggestion that we should stop thinking about evangelism as the task of sending ‘one schmuck to be the only Christian in a room full of people who don’t believe’ and to start seeing that plausibility comes from the embodied life of believers who show how the Gospel changes everything. Sam talks about ‘merging universes’; having our Christian friends spend time with our non-Christian friends. We might think ‘yeah, that’s what church is’ – and it is, that’s why we make every week of church a good week to bring a friend to hear about Jesus and see our lives on display, but he makes the point that we have to go out into the wider community, to ‘go to their stuff first’, to make the sort of intentional efforts we often make as individuals as groups – maybe that means joining a sports club or community group with a few friends. The next step is not necessarily to invite your friend straight to church (a public gathering), but into your home – Sam talks about how the conversations we have in ‘public space’ have the sort of assumptions we have about public life as Aussies – that religion is a ‘private’ thing, and private space is where people, when they feel safe, will open up to talk about their beliefs. He talks about a sequence of Coffee-Coffee-Dinner being a normal move from public to private places. Maybe this means intentionally catching up with a colleague for coffee with another Christian friend who works nearby, or mixing up the invite list for your next party or dinner so that you’re not just inviting people from one particular circle.
There’s lots of great thinking packed into the pages of this book – and if books aren’t your thing, Sam has released a series of videos based on each chapter that you can purchase online through Vimeo (your campus pastor has access to these videos too if you want to arrange a screening with a bunch of people).
The best news about this great book is that (perhaps for today only) the ebook is available for $2.99 from Amazon Australia.