Theologically, I have been on quite a journey over the past decade. Considering where I’m at now, and where I started after leaving high school, is quite amazing. Depending on who you talked to, I’ve probably either been lost to the false teaching of the “world” or I’ve stopped being so closed minded. Truth be told, probably both are correct. I continue on my faith journey towards a better understanding of God. That is the motto to which I wish to pursue every day. I don’t pray enough. I’m not nearly devoted enough to Scripture. I don’t love like I should. And on and on I could go confessing my inadequacies and flaws, and yet, in the midst of all those flaws, is a love and faith in God that is pure and humble.
Recently, where I’m at theologically, has really got me wondering about the topic of evangelism. It seems to have all but disappeared in the churches I’ve been a part of. It’s not that it’s not talked about, it’s just no one really seems to be doing it. I’m definitely not. I’m not even sure how to go about it. I’m really not sure how it fits into my evolving understanding of the kingdom of GOd and of faith and of God.
That is why I found this book perfectly suited for where I am. This is my second installment of Rick Richardson’s work. I was first introduced to his concept of evangelism in his Evangelism Outside the Box. I found the more compact Reimagining Evangelism to be immensely helplful, refreshing, and reassuring.
Richardson’s main concern in this work is the underlying mistrust and misgivings people in the post-Christian culture have with organized religion. How do we go about sharing the Gospel with these people? Isn’t that the million dollar question? If I don’t wrestle with that question every day of my life.
Richardson is down-to-earth, a realist, and comes across overwhelmingly humble. It is written from a “here’s where I’ve been and the things I’ve experienced” perspective that is easy to connect with. He offers no easy formulae to solve the problems. However, he offers an easy approach to engaging others with the power of the Gospel.
He is a self-proclaimed introvert, relieving the many introerts shying away from evangelism. IN his reassuring way, he promotes an approach to evangelism through spiritual conversation. The key step is in bridging already-established relationships with conversation that is deep. Not academically deep, but that is spiritual, moving, aimed at meaning, value, and life. These are things that people want to talk about.
He infuses his writing with real-life encounters and writes emphasizing the very thing he claims – our own stories have great power. He uses his story to enrich the lives of the readers as we attempt to share the Gospel story with others.
At times I winced a little, I admit, as his claims were unapologetically conservative (I don’t know if that just goes to show how confused I’ve become in my own faith), but my wincing quickly recovered into appreciation as I realized here was a conservative guy, with a message of the saving power of the grace of Jesus taking a deliberate and specific attempt to address the culture around him.
The best part of Richardson is that he addresses some of the previous black-eyed approach to evangelism where the key was pursuing numbers and bottom-lines – the business approach. He has this great quip: “Evangelism is not about sales but about spiriutal guidance. It’s not about getting ‘in’ instead of being ‘out.’ It’s similiar to getting married, becoming one iwth the God who loves us and will transform us.” (p. 140).
I highly reccommend this book to anyone who is serious about sharing their faith. The challenge will not be in understanding Richardson’s perspective on evangelism, but in enacting the things that he promotes. Were every reader to do that, the church would have a sudden and dramatic impact.