Author Alvin L. Reid writes about conversational evangelism in his new book Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out.

Right off the bat, this book’s title appealed to me. At EvanTell, we’ve found many people want to share their faith but hesitate because of fear, so I curiously cracked open the pages.

Reid proposes that part of the reason believers struggle with witnessing comes from how churches teach people to share Christ. While training and materials are often helpful, sometimes we over complicate the gospel message. Here are a few of his thoughts:

  1. “Most believers do not consider themselves public speakers.” – Reid points out the similarity public speaking (second greatest fear in recent Gallup poles) often has with giving a gospel presentation. People often learn how to present a “plan of salvation,” but not how to work the gospel into casual conversation or make witnessing a lifestyle.
  2. “Most of the folds who teach evangelism training tend to be aggressive, type A folks.” – Reid points out that some evangelists may intimidate people who are new to sharing their faith. And, while he doesn’t explicitly point out this out, I myself have noticed that evangelism training is often geared toward extroverts at the neglect of the strengths introverts bring to the table. We need both extroverts and introverts in evangelism!
  3. Some believers “began to wonder [if they are] doing it all wrong.” – Some people he has met began to question if they were going about witnessing the wrong way if they had been witnessing with an approach different from a way suggested through a particular training.
  4. Christian subculture causes “the vast majority of Christians to spend most of our time around saved people.” – Many of us live in Christian bubbles and forget how Jesus spent much of his time with those deemed as outcasts by society.

In the introduction, Reid suggests that you don’t have to be a formal evangelist to share Christ, and he gives 8 principles (one per chapter) designed to help you reboot in evangelism:

Principle #1: God created you for his glory, to advance his gospel with the gifts, talents, and opportunities he gave to you.

Principle #2: In order to share Jesus confidently and consistently with others, first share him confidently and consistently with yourself.

Principle #3: Shifting from giving an evangelistic presentation to having an evangelistic conversation takes pressure off the witness and relate the gospel more clearly to an unbeliever.

Principle #4: God has sovereignly placed you in this world at this time with the abilities and gifts you have to bring glory to him and show the joy of the gospel to others.

Principle #5: Effective evangelistic conversations connect the unchanging gospel with the specific issues people face.

Principle #6: Expect people to be open to the gospel, and learn to share Jesus where they live.

Principle #7: Talk to the actual person in front of you about the Jesus inside you; let them see and hear the change Jesus makes in you.

Principle #8: Developing a lifestyle of sharing Jesus consistently flows out of a plan to share Jesus regularly.

This book is a fairly short read and could be done in one evening or, as the author suggests, spread out by reading one chapter a week. The back contains questions for further thought, and he’s also put together short lessons emailed to interested recipients on a weekly basis for 8-weeks.

There were a few things within the book that I would personally have put a different way, but overall I was encouraged by Reid’s positive approach to evangelism. He comes to it with the mindset that most people would like to share Christ but need a little encouragement.

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(Disclaimer: This book was provided by B&H Academic in exchange for an honest review.)