Category: Books

5 “Best” Books on Evangelism

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.

 

4 New Videos on The Unbelievable Gospel

Here’s a string of new videos to go with my book The Unbelievable Gospel, which won “Book of the Year” in the Evangelism/Apologetics category in the Christianity Today awards. Feel free to use them in teaching, posting on your blog, or however they might be helpful.

What is Re-evangelization? from Jonathan Dodson on Vimeo.

Does Anything Need to Change in Personal Evangelism? from Jonathan Dodson on Vimeo.

Why Do People Find the Gospel Unbelievable? from Jonathan Dodson on Vimeo.

What is a Multi-Dimensional Gospel? – Jonathan Dodson from Jonathan Dodson on Vimeo.

10 Stirring Quotes on the Church

I’m reading through Kevin Vanhoozer’s Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine, and there’s a tweet on every page. So, instead of loading up people’s twitter feeds, I thought it would be more merciful to list out some quotes here.

A brief set up. Vanhoozer is helping us see how doctrine must be done, which is good for the ivory tower preachers, theologians, & bookish types. When Jesus said  to “observe all I have commanded,” he was saying more than “take notes” (xiii). And yet, desire for God, without doctrine, is blind (xiv). Doctrine gives direction for bearing faithful witness, for speaking understanding” (1). How, then, does doctrine speak? Through the church, of course, for good or for ill, depending on you.

Here are a string of quotes that articulate the church’s glorious responsibility to live our doctrine as a theatre of the gospel in and for the world:

The church is ultimately a triune production, a theater of the gospel wherein we begin to see how God in Christ is “reconciling the world to himself.”

 

The church is not only the “people of the book” but also “the (lived) interpretation of the book.”

 

Doctrine serves as a finishing school for disciples by helping them to view their lives as Christ did his, as caught up in the area drama of redemption.

 

The church is the place where Christ rules by his word, which dwells in disciples’ hearts.

 

The church is not an empty space but a peopled place where God exhibits his gospel.

 

The church is the public revelation of the mystery of salvation.

 

The evangelical church finds itself in danger of being indoctrinated by culture rather than by Scripture.

 

The argument in the present book is that the church is a theater of the gospel in which disciples stage previews of the coming kingdom of God.

 

Imagination is biblical reasoning in its Sunday best, lost in wonder at the creativity of the Creator.

 

There is nothing more authentic that being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, the prototype of true humanity.

 

 

Some Favorite Books from 2014

Here are a few books I enjoyed most during 2014. They weren’t necessarily published in 2014, but I sure did like them!

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A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural

Eminent sociologist, Peter Berger, coined the term “signals of transcendence,” referring to the latent signs of divinity in the human experience. Among those signs he includes: order, play, & laughter. A Rumor of Angels is on the shorter side and is a great intro to Berger’s writings.

 

 

 

 

 

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On the Brink: Grace for Burned Out Pastor

I’ve said a lot about On the Brink in former posts. It’s choc full of insights, not only for the pastor but for the congregation. It’s theologically rich, pastorally sensitive, challenging where it needs to be, and soaked in grace. If you want to give a pastor a gift, whether they struggle with burnout or not, this is a great book for every pastor to read.

 

 

 

 

UnknownA Moveable Feast

The book is a memoir of reflections from Hemingway’s time in Paris, where he lived with his wife and son in the twenties. If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, you’ll recall all the artists and literary figures that lived there in this period. Hemingway was right in the mix, living in poverty, betting on horses, spilling ink in cafes, drinking lots of wine, and sizing up the likes of Gertrude Stein and Scott Fitzgerald.

 

 

 

 

 

51JW3SR41gL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Called to be Saints: An Invitation to Christian Maturity

I really enjoy the balance, clarity, and pull of Gordon Smith’s writing. His book, Transforming Conversion, was great. Here he argues maturity is a vital dimension of the church’s teaching that often goes neglected. He writes: “Congregations that do not pursue with passion and vigor a dynamic maturity in Christ are surely as fraudulent as a hospital that is not passionate and vigorous in its pursuit of healing and holiness.”

 

 

 

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Powerful story, great writing, and stirring account of Laura Hildebrand.

Unknown-2Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the CULTURE OF NOW

Americans can’t read and reflect enough on the sabbath. Once a cultural fixation, the sabbath has largely left the Christian field of view. Bruggeman argues that it is “the most difficult and most important” of the Ten Commandments. The Preface is worth the book, where he makes a distinction between the Adamic man–who creates through work, and the Mosaic man–who cultivates reflection and worship through inaction and devotion.