Item description for The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark E. Dever & C. J. Mahaney...
Overview Dever seeks to encourage readers to understand the fundamentals of evangelism and to challenge them to develop a culture of evangelism in their lives and their local churches.
Evangelism is not only misunderstood, it is often unpracticed. Many Christians want to share the gospel with others, but because those Christians don't grasp the fundamentals of witnessing, they feel intimidated and incapable of sharing the truth of the gospel.
Yet those believers fail to recognize that God has already established who and how we are to evangelize. In The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, Dr. Mark Dever seeks to answer the four basic questions about evangelism that many Christians ask: Who should we evangelize? How should we evangelize? What is evangelism? Why should we evangelize? In his answers Dever draws on New Testament truths and helps believers apply those truths in practical ways. As readers understand the fundamentals of evangelism, they will begin to develop a culture of evangelism in their lives and their local churches.
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A Theological and Practical Guide to Evangelism Oct 19, 2008
At the 2008 Founders Conference, Ed Stetzer challenged pastors and students of the Reformed persuasion to demonstrate a passion for evangelism and warned them not to become "functional hyper-Calvinists."
Thankfully, no one in Southern Baptist leadership is promoting the heresy of Hyper-Calvinism (the belief that the gospel should not be offered freely to all). But could it be that many of us (Calvinist or non-Calvinist alike) are "functional Hyper-Calvinists?" We say we believe the gospel should be preached to all, and yet we fail to evangelize!
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Crossway, 2007) by Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, represents a passionate plea from one of the leading Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention. Dever seeks to inspire his readers to evangelize more often and more faithfully, and he hopes to promote a culture of evangelism within our churches. In order to make his case, he focuses each chapter on answering specific questions like:
Why don't we evangelize? What is the Gospel? Who should evangelize? How should we evangelize? What isn't evangelism? What should we do after we evangelize? Why should we evangelize?
Dever's book is thoroughly biblical and practical. He warns against certain evangelistic strategies that sound more like sales pitches for a new product. And yet he is equally insistent that we should demonstrate urgency when pleading with people to trust in the mercy of Christ.
Dever believes it is important to back up our gospel proclamation with holy living, but he does not believe that we should substitute evangelistic proclamation with "lifestyle evangelism." Verbal proclamation is key. Dever urges us to proclaim the gospel, not merely our personal testimonies, apologetic reasoning for Christianity, or the results of Christian faith.
Many books on evangelism devote little time to actually defining "the gospel" and instead jump quickly to practical strategies. Dever does not assume his readers know the message that needs to be shared, so he devotes an entire chapter to the gospel message itself. Dever defines "the gospel" more comprehensively than the New Testament uses the word, but in a book about how to share the gospel (and thereby incorporate the major emphases of the biblical witness regarding our need for salvation), his definition works just fine.
The Gospel and Personal Salvation will probably do for this generation what J.I. Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God did for the previous generation - provide a theological and practical guide to evangelism from within the Reformed tradition. I highly recommend you pick up Dever's book. It has challenged me to become more intentional in my evangelism and to be more aware of the non-Christians I meet day to day.
Excellent Encouragment to Personal Evangelism Aug 13, 2008
Mark Dever has written an excellent resource for personal evangelism. I bought this book having heard of Dever's particular passion for personal evangelism. I was not disappointed. On the other hand, I was a little surprised. My perception of Dever is that of a pastor-scholar excelling at theological argumentation and biblical exegesis. Yet the power of this book is not in it's scholarship or argumentation. Its peculiar strength comes from how personal, practical, and honest it is written.
Dever fills this book with stories of evangelistic successes and failures. Some of these stories are from Christian history and some are from his own life. He avoids complex theological terminology making this book readily accessible to layman and pastor alike. What is so disarming about the book is how frequently he inserts his own reflections on personal evangelism and even on writing a book about evangelism. At one point he breaks in mid paragraph to write:
"And just to drive this home, as I've been writing this, a non-Christian friend called and wanted to talk to me. We chatted for about thirty minutes, the whole time during which I was impatient to get back to writing this book on evangelism! Aargh! Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this wretched body of indifference? If we would evangelize more, we must love people more."
When you add together the simple vocabulary, rich stories, personal reflection, and short chapters you get a book that is incredibly easy to read in a single sitting yet profound enough to stick with you for years to come.
This books is also, of course, profoundly Christ-centered. Each chapter repeatedly brings the reader's attention back to consider the magnificence of the cross of Christ. Why should we evangelize? Consider Christ. What should we say when we evangelize? Consider Christ. What should we do if the response is less than positive? Consider Christ. What is the end goal of evangelism? Christ, Christ, Christ. It is a joy to read this book and join in Dever in his praise for the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ.
You will also find in this book helpful discussion on the relationship of God's sovereignty and personal evangelism. Dever is very concerned to place personal evangelism soundly within the frame of God's sovereign power in salvation. He does not want people to evangelize out of guilt. He does not want people to rely on their own sales tactics to bring the lost to Jesus. He wants the church to find tremendous encouragement and power in the truth of God's sovereignty as it related to personal evangelism.
Another aspect of this book which was particularly welcomed was the way Dever addressed common excuses for not evangelizing. He doesn't pull punches. He doesn't excuse excuses. In multiple places he completely annihilates the kind of thinking that leads Christians to live lives of un-evangelism. He leaves no other option to the reader but to say along with him, "It is the responsibility of every Christian to be involved in personal evangelism."
Lastly, you will find this book very practical. Many of the chapters provide numbered lists of things to do as you prepare in, participate in, and follow up personal evangelism. Dever avoids the pitfall of pretending to provide a flawless step-by-step plan for cookie-cutter evangelism. Instead he provides biblical and practical help for growing in your desire for and skill in personal evangelism.
I highly recommend this book.
Accomplishes Its Purpose; Let's Accomplish Ours Jul 8, 2008
In this book, a pastor who personally evangelizes people, tries to get other Christians to do the same. The book consists of seven brief chapters; since the obstacle in evangelism less the knowing and more the doing, the brevity of the book lends to its being used for regular reminder or even as a sort of manual. Here is a very brief summary of the content:
1. Why Don't We Evangelize? This chapter examines obstacles, imagined and real, and prescribes 12 simple correctives. The first 8 are more concrete, and the last 4 are more compelling.
2. What Is the Gospel? Most of this chapter is spent debunking what the Gospel is not, before arriving upon a definition that attempts to summarize what the Bible says about how God accomplished the salvation of sinners and applies it to them.
3. Who Should Evangelize? Although I don't think the case was strongly made from Scripture, I do agree with his conclusion that all Christians should evangelize. This chapter included a helpful example and exhortation that just thinking, speaking, and living in a radically Christian way is often used of God as evangelism.
4. How Should We Evangelize? This chapter deals with our manner as we evangelize and with some practical suggestions of things to do when we evangelize. The former is too often done poorly; the latter are too often not done at all; so, this is a very helpful and important chapter.
5. What Isn't Evangelism? This chapter attempts to distinguish evangelism (our duty) from many things that go by its name--things that we would rather do, or things that are not ours to do.
6. What to Do After We Evangelize This chapter helps us process the various kinds of responses that we get when we tell people the Gospel. It is helpful both to Christians who don't know how to respond to a negative response and who fall short of engaging a new convert in discipleship. Both are important, since evangelism seeks to make disciples and not just converts.
7. Why Should We Evangelize? This chapter identifies three healthy motives for evangelism: obedience to God, love for others, and love for God and His glory. Recognizing that these are not often our motives for anything in the way they should be, Dever then gives a list of ways to foster such motives in our hearts.
There is also a concluding section reminding us that evangelizing is our job, but converting is God's alone, and we ought not attempt to do it ourselves. This is a slight expansion of some content from chapter 5.
Happily, I believe that Dever accomplished his stated purpose for the book: "It is meant to be an encouragement, a clarification, an instruction, a rebuke, and a challenge all rolled up into several short chapters." (p16)
Because of the importance of the topic, the brevity and accessibility of the writing, and the amount of practical content, I think that if you are a believer you will find this book useful to have and to read and to reread.
Great Evangelism-training Tool Mar 25, 2008
I bought this book in order to gain more practical insights into evangelism - i.e., why engage in it, how to engage in it - and I have not been disappointed! Mark Dever's writing is theologically sound and I think would be very approachable by most everyone. Mark answers the questions and calls the reader to accountability in the necessity and the practice of evangelism. Well worth the money.
One of the best books on evangelism Feb 25, 2008
If you want to read a very good book on what evangelism is, why we need to evangelize, and what evangelism is not, then you must purchase this book. Dever has really hit the bullseye in this book when it comes to evangelism and all the implications associated with it. Though every chapter in the book is useful and valuable the better chapters are on the contents of the gospel (chap. 2) and what evangelism is not (chap. 5).
In the chapter on what the true gospel is, Dever makes it clear that the gospel (contrary to many modern evangelicals) is NOT 1) that we are simply okay; 2) that God is simply love; 3) that Jesus just wants to be our friend; and 4) that we should just live rightly. The true gospel, according to Dever, is that we are all sinners, that Jesus lived a perfect life and died on the cross to take our punishment, that he rose from the dead, and that we are all called to repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation. This chapter must be read by ALL evangelical ministers today who are tempted to follow the seeker-friendly or prosperity train.
The chapter on what evangelism is not is also very enlightening. Dever rightly points out that evangelism is NOT 1) imposition of our beliefs on unbelievers; 2) personal testimony of our Christian life; 3) social action or public involvement; 4) and apologetics (this point is especially important to highlight since so many Christians today believe that they can persuade an unbeliever to Christ through clever argumentation). Also, Dever rightly points out that just because we do not see the fruits of our evangelism right away does not mean that our role as God's messengers have failed. In fact, the fruit of conversion may appear many decades later - the time when a sinner comes to Christ is not in our hands but it is in the hands of our wise and sovereign God. Our job is just to be faithful messengers of the gospel and let God do the actual saving.
Finally, I also found Dever's statement that just because a person "accepts" Christ does not mean he or she is a true believer quite helpful. Having led bible studies for quite some time this is an important point that all Christian leaders need to be aware of. There will always be wolves in sheep's clothing in any church (even in solid Calvinistic ones). Many who appear to be Christians at first will later show their true colours as their supposed faith wanes and they go back to their old lifestyle. Dever points this out in his book to remind us that assurance is not an automatic thing and that we need to be careful of automatically considering a person saved just because he or she claims to be a Christian.
Overall, I would highly recommend this short but important book on evangelism. Though Dever is a Calvinist, this book can be very useful for evangelical Christians of all theological persuasions. In an age where evangelism is mostly based on seeker-friendly methods and the gospel is watered-down to meet the carnal desires of the people this book shows what true biblical evangelism is all about and what the gospel gives us and demands from us.