The Evangelism Handbook by Alvin Reid is a thorough guide to evangelism. Reid divides this book into four parts: Biblical, Spiritual Resources, Intentional, and Missional.
The first part focuses on why it is essential that evangelism is Biblical. At the very root of evangelism is the Bible sending us out to share the gospel with those who are not saved. Reid starts out with helpful definitions of evangelism, explaining it is the way that Christians communicate the Good News and herald the message of salvation. Christians witness by sharing their encounter with our good and gracious God in order to make disciples or Christ followers. The following chapters in this first section describe what the message Christians proclaim is, why it is necessary to share the good news, the history of evangelism, and the theology of evangelism. The final chapter in this section on the theology of evangelism was especially helpful to me.
The next section describes the role of spiritual resources. This section is one that I really appreciated, as it is missing from so many books on evangelism today. Throughout this section, Reid drives home the point that it is the Spirit who produces fruit in evangelism, and the role of the Christian is merely to be faithful in proclaiming the gospel. This is an incredibly important reminder to those who are actively sharing the gospel, as it is essential to remember that as long as you are being faithful in gospel proclamation, it is up to the Spirit to work. Nothing you can say or do will cause a person to be saved apart from the work that the Holy Spirit does. The five chapters here express the work of the Spirit (as indicated in sentences above), but also discuss the power of prayer, the effectiveness of sharing testimony of what God has done, and the witness of Christian character. The fourth chapter in this section, which focuses on character, is also a great reminder that people are always watching us to see if we live according to what we say.
The third and fourth sections speak to being intentional and missional in evangelistic efforts. The third section had the greatest impact on me personally, as I’ve recently been seeking out what it means to be intentional in evangelism. The seven chapters in section three provide an excellent segue into the fourth section, which focuses on the missional side of evangelism: seeking to make disciples, and not merely converts. The fourth section focuses on church planting, and evangelism as a tool for church planting and reaching the unchurched. The second last chapter focuses on reaching the next generation, which is a group that many churches overlook the significance of. The next generation will be the upcoming leaders, politicians, lawyers, and teachers. The goal should be to raise up a generation who are passionate for the things of the Lord, that will convey that in the public square.
There is a ton of good content in Evangelism Handbook, however, the book is lengthy. At 480 pages, it is a ton of content for the reader to digest. The author likely could have condensed the book to be one hundred pages shorter, and still conveyed the important points. Reid spent a lot of time towards the beginning of the book proving that evangelism is essential for Christians, which is hopefully a concept that most readers already grasp. This was an important point to make, but then it was restated several times which just added to the length of the book. The Evangelism Handbook is extremely detailed, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, it makes it a little bit too long.
Apart from that, the Evangelism Handbook is excellently organized into four sections as summarized above, with well thought out chapters within each section. Reid writes Evangelism Handbook in a way that is accessible to lay people, while at the same time being helpful to those with a theological education. Evangelism Handbook contains many helpful applications, including the author sharing several personal stories which are helpful ways to apply concepts taught throughout the book.
It seems that Reid has a great deal of confidence in the younger generation to be faithful in evangelism, which is refreshing: it seems that an increasing amount of professors and theologians are casting doubt on what young people are capable of, but that really is not helpful. In order to see young people strive to do the best that they can in all areas (including evangelism) it is essential to empower them to believe that they are capable.
In conclusion, I thought this book was an excellent resource as a guidebook to evangelism. I especially appreciated the section on being intentional in evangelism. I think this would be a great resource for leaders in the church seeking to create a culture of evangelism in their church, as well as lay-people who want to grow in this area of their life. Evangelism is an essential ministry for all believers, so it is important to be well equipped. This book is an excellent starting point to equipping yourself and your church for an effective ministry of evangelism.
Reid, Alvin. Evangelism Handbook: Biblical, Spiritual, Intentional, Missional. Nashville: B&H Publishers, 2009. 480pp. Paperback, $24.99.
Visit the publisher’s page.
Thanks to B&H Publishers for the review copy!