Unfortunately, evangelism is one of those topics that few of us like to talk about, let alone read a book on. Evangelism and Prayer. These are oftentimes the two topics that very few Christians will pick up a book and read about. Why? Because they are the two aspects of the Christian life that most of us feel the most conviction concerning our lack of discipline, or feel most incompetent about. However, we all desperately need a help and a stirring reminder. And that is just what Rico Tice’s new book on evangelism does for its readers. The title of this book is: Honest Evangelism: How To Talk about Jesus Even When It’s Tough.
Let me just tell you from the outset: I really enjoyed this book. Really. So much so that it was hard for me to put down. I read the whole book in 2 sittings. I appreciated the honesty with which the author approached the subject. I was challenged by the reminders that the author gave from Scripture. And I was impressed by the foundational truths upon which the author grounded our call to evangelism.
So with that said, how is the book laid out? What’s the point of the book? The book consists of 8 chapters, with the first 4 chapters focusing on some foundational truths that we need to know about evangelism, and the last 4 chapters addressing the practical “how-to” aspects of actually doing evangelism.
Chapter 1 starts out discussing the two halves of the story regarding evangelism. What are these two halves? (1) Evangelism is hard, and you can/will get hurt, and (2) There is a hunger in people to understand their purpose and the ultimate reality of things. The author summarizes chapter one this way:
“We must be honest about the hostility, or we’ll have wrong expectations and give up on evangelism. But we must also be excited about the hunger, or we’ll have no expectations at all, and never start evangelism” (23).
After discussing the 2 halves of hurt and hunger in chapter 1, the second chapter asks: “Is Evangelism worth it?” Unless we want to do it, none of the practical “how-to” chapters will really matter very much. So what should our motivation be, as Christians, to evangelize? The author gives 3 motivations:
- The glory of Jesus
- The guarantee of the new creation
- The grim reality of death and hell
With those 3 great motivators for evangelizing, there’s still a problem — many people still don’t evangelize. Why? What would be a reason that someone would still choose not to evangelize, even knowing these 3 motivations given in Scripture? That is what chapter 3 is about. And in a word, the answer is this: idolatry. There is something that you love more than obeying Christ and sharing Him with others. What is that thing? Well, it varies from person to person. So the author gives a few helpful questions that the reader can use to help identify the idol that is keeping him from evangelizing.
And finally, the last foundational truth comes in chapter 4 — Three truths that we must remember if we are going to be the type of people that pray for, look for, and take advantage of opportunities to share about Christ with others.
- God’s Sovereignty
- God’s Grace
- God’s Power
“We talk about Christ: God opens blind eyes. It is my job, and your job, to tell someone about Jesus — who he is, why he came and what it means. It is not our job to make someone respond. It’s God who opens blind eyes. You communicate the message — and then you pray that he would do the miracle.
This is so liberating. What is successful witnessing? It’s not someone becoming a Christian — it’s someone hearing about Christ. It’s not you winning the argument, having all the answers, or giving an eloquent speech — it’s you preaching Christ” (55).
Now we get to the “how-to.” Now that we are convinced that we, as Christians, are to evangelize, how do we do it? That’s what the final 4 chapters are about. Rico Tice gives some helpful advice here in these chapters, including 2 sets of three words in chapter 5 that we should remember when trying to strike up conversations with others, or when trying to turn conversations to talking about Christ
Set 1: Identity. Mission. Call.
This is the Gospel.
- Identity — Who Jesus is.
- Mission — Why Jesus came.
- Call — What Jesus wants from us.
Set 2: Understanding. Agreement. Impact.
This is their response.
- Understanding — Do they get it? Do they understand it?
- Agreement — Do they agree with it? Do they not only understand it, but agree that it is true?
- Impact — What are they doing about it? How is it affecting and impacting their life?
“Evangelism is not about saying everything, or saying it eloquently. But it is about saying enough” (70).
In chapter 6, the author gives some good advice on being yourself in evangelism, and looks to a variety of different personalities that were evangelists in the Bible, including Peter and the woman at the well. Then in chapter 7, he gives some helpful advice on getting started with evangelizing, and what that looks like in the culture that we find ourselves in right now.
“You don’t need to be good at witnessing; you simply need to be faithful in doing it” (93).
And finally, he ends in chapter 8 with two things that we all need to do: Pray & Go. Without prayer, our going will be powerless. But without going, our prayers for the spread of the Gospel will not be answered.
This book was quite challenging to me, as well as incredibly helpful. Far too many books on evangelism are strong in one area, but weak in another. Strong in practical “how-to’s,” but weak in foundational truths. Strong in theological convictions, but weak in practical advice to get started. Not this book. This book has a wonderful balance between solid, foundational theological truths that ground our call to evangelize, and practical, helpful “how-to’s” that the reader can put into place and begin being more obedient and more fruitful in his evangelism. I greatly appreciated this book, and think that you would benefit from grabbing a copy for yourself.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Cross Focused Reviews and The Good Book Company for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.