Book Review: Reimagining Evangelism by RIck RIchardson

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.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Reimagining Evangelism by RIck RIchardson

  1. Thanks for the recommendation of the book. I’ve also recently been thinking about ‘evangelism.’ I’ve come to an initial conclusion that evangelism isn’t an invitation to get forgiveness for your sins – though that has to be there – it is much more an invitation to live a life with Jesus. So praying “the sinner’s prayer” isn’t the end of evangelism, it is just the beginning. Anyway, I liked your thoughts. When things get weird, don’t back away from God, keep pressing into him.

  2. Adam,I found your blog after you posted a comment on mine.This is a very good post regarding Richardson’s book. I have read one of his books before and you review makes me want to read this one.

  3. I remember an instance at the church where I grew up. We had a two or three day “seminar” hosted by some guy who was supposed to be an expert on evangelism. He also did the Sunday morning sermon. He kept throwing out the number of people he had converted in his career, both to tell how good he was and to chastise, in a subtle way, those of us who don’t evangelize more. That was the only time I remember my church looking like a youth rally with all of the front pews full during the invitation song. I was only 14 or 15 at the time, but I remember feeling that there was something wrong with the guy’s approach. Evangelism should not be about numbers or how many you can convert. It certainly comes from the business model view of church where we have to measure everything to see if it is successful. I still get a kick out of every time I go to Julie’s church and they have their little tote board at the front of the auditorium with the attendance, number of baptisms and restorations. I’m not good at evangelism. At my work, I am surrounded by “Christians.” My bosses are Catholic, the other partner is Episcopalian (grew up Greek Orthodox). So the ecumenical part of me doesn’t want to have the mindset that the only Christians are the resorationists. But I can’t help but wonder if they have the same ideas I do about a true relationship with God rather than being able to recite the right prayers or whatever. Evangelism is tough. For those of us who don’t have time to read as many “religious” books as you do, please share more with us about how to evangelize and overcome different mindsets like this.

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