It’s hard to list five favorite books on evangelism, not because I command a vast knowledge of evangelistic literature, but because there are so many different types of “texts” or fields of knowledge that motivate and inform evangelism. Evangelism is a way of thinking first and a way of speaking second.
For example, a great missionary biography, like Amy Carmichael or Adoniram Judson, can awaken evangelistic zeal and commitment to perseverance through the difficulty of mission. Apologetic books stimulate evangelistic wisdom. Penetrating cultural texts, like Peter Berger’s A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural or David Brooks recent New York Times column on the vacuous, contemporary pursuit of “meaningfulness,” motivate us to communicate the deeper, broader, grander alternative to modernity and relativistic consumer culture—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Practical books can fill in knowledge gaps, strengthen skill, and inspire with stories. Aesthetic texts, like poetry, fiction, or art can remind you how beautiful the gospel is, and its centerpiece, Jesus our Lord. They remind us to show how attractive Christ is, not just how reasonable his offer. Then there’s the human texts. A good evangelist will not merely address but also readpeople. There’s nothing like spending time with a skeptic, seeker, or sufferer to motivate prayerfulness and excitement about the relevance of Jesus Christ as the truth for doubters, the way for seekers, and the life for sufferers. If we read them well, we will see something of the gospel in their doubt, curiosity, and difficulty.
By now you are probably thinking this was all just a ploy to list more than five books! So, without dragging on, here are five books from different fields that are my “favorites” in evangelism.