Book Review: Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles
by J. Mack Stiles
A recommended resource for "You Are... a series in Christian Basics"
Review by Dan Dubois
A book on Evangelism usually means one of two things; a new method for convincing people to believe in Jesus, or a heavy amount of guilt for Christians who don’t share their faith enough. Both are graciously absent from Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles. Stiles addresses some of the misconceptions about evangelism, he addresses the role of the Church in evangelism, and he gently guides Christians to sharing the Gospel.
Stiles defines evangelism as, “Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.” Which means that evangelism is more that proving God’s existence, it’s more than Christmas pageants, and it’s more than just living the Christian life. While God can certainly use these things to bring people to an understanding of the Gospel, these may not actually qualify as evangelism. Based upon Stile’s definition, anything that is not using words to teach the Gospel with the intention of persuading people to submit to Christ is not evengelism. Don’t worry, Stiles will do a better job explaining evangelism than me.
Stiles intent for the Church is that they would take up a “culture of evangelism,” not just a new evangelism program. A “culture of evangelism” is more than just an event, but “...loving communities committed to sharing the gospel as part of ongoing way of life.” The goal is people in the church who naturally share the Gospel, in their normal life, in normal manners of communication, with people they normally talk to. As Stiles writes (and I agree with him) that most people come to faith through the influence of family, friends, and small group Bible studies—simply, Christian’s intentionally talking about the Gospel.
Stiles ends with some practical advice for Christians for sharing their faith, and an excellent reminder; as Christians, we get the opportunity to be ambassadors on behalf of Jesus Christ. As Stiles says we are “representatives of the kingdom of God”. What a surprise that God would use flawed, scared people like me to share his message to world. It’s an amazing blessing, and responsibility that we have.
This book is for those who desire to be evangelizing, but don’t know where to start. Evangelism, by J. Mack Stiles, is the book I would recommend to anyone as an introduction for what evangelism is and why we evangelize. Read this book, you won’t be disappointed.