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Evangelism Outside the Box: New Ways to Help People Experience the Good News [Paperback]

By Rick Richardson (Author)
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Item description for Evangelism Outside the Box: New Ways to Help People Experience the Good News by Rick Richardson...

If we are going to effectively reach contemporary people - people for whom all "evidence" is relative - we need to get beyond the ideas and practices that are sacred to us but are not sacred to God. Rick Richardson provides fresh perspectives on relying on the Holy Spirit, awakening spiritual interest in others, appealing to what they value and leading them into a transforming experience with God.

Publishers Description
It used to be that providing clear evidence for the resurrection of Jesus or the reliability of the Bible was a pretty effective way to reach people with the Good News. But today, many folks think all truth is relative, even our historical and scientific data about Christianity. So how can we reach them? We need new ways of telling people the old, old story. We need to look again at our usual mental habits if we want to reach people who have a brand new mindset of their own. We need to get outside the box of ideas and practices that are sacred to us but are not sacred to God. That's what Rick Richardson's book is all about. Here are fresh perspectives on relying on the Holy Spirit, awakening spiritual interest in others, appealing to what they value (instead of what we think they should value) and leading them into a transforming experience with God. Also included is Richardson's Circles of Belonging, a new, straightforward presentation of the message of Jesus (yes, it can even be sketched out on a napkin ) that is true to Scripture and true to the new way people live and think. As an experienced evangelist and leader of evangelism programs, Richardson offers in this helpful book the principles and practices that will help us all grow in love for--and communicate effectively with--people who need Jesus.

From Publishers Weekly
Many churches feel embarrassed and discouraged about their lack of evangelism, says Richardson, national coordinator of evangelism for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. Here, he provides a heartfelt challenge, offering an excellent analysis of postmodern thought as the current milieu for evangelism and a brief introduction to many useful resources for practical application. Particularly helpful to many Christian leaders will be Richardson's explanation of the transition from modern to postmodern thought and the ways this change has reduced the effectiveness of "traditional" approaches to evangelism. The depth of Richardson's analysis reflects his experience with campus ministry. While many churches will not encounter the academic level of postmodern thought Richardson describes, the basic patterns (for example, the move from propositional to experiential truth) still hold true. Also remarkable is Richardson's application of ancient patterns to contemporary situations, as when he demonstrates the continuing usefulness of the evangelism models used by John Wesley and Saint Patrick, or interprets Paul's "Mars Hill" sermon from Acts 17. The book's value for study within churches will be limited by the very critical tone Richardson uses for the established church. Also, many of his suggestions assume a large-church context with an army of volunteer helpers. Despite these limitations, this book offers penetrating analyses and useful resources for a crucial area of Christian ministry. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Evangelism Outside the Box: New Ways to Help People Experience the Good News by Rick Richardson has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christian Retailing - 01/08/2001 page 45
  • Publishers Weekly - 11/27/2000 page 73
  • CBA Retailers - 01/01/2001 page 126

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Books
Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.32" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.55"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2001
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830822763  
ISBN13  9780830822768  

Availability  0 units.

More About Rick Richardson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rick Richardson believes in journeying with people who are moving toward God. No need to sell Jesus, he says. The Holy Spirit will do that. Coming alongside others, with love, is all we need to do. An ordained priest with the Anglican Mission in America, Rick runs the evangelism and leadership program at Wheaton College Graduate School and is associate national director for evangelism with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.

Rick Richardson was born in 1955.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Pentecostal
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Worship & Devotion > Charismatic

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Evangelism & Outreach

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Reviews - What do customers think about Evangelism Outside the Box: New Ways to Help People Experience the Good News?

Solid, but poorly titled...  Oct 29, 2006
Richardson's book is a very readable and accessible approach to contemporary evangelism. He does a good job of describing the difference between the Roman and Celtic ways of thinking about evangelism and all of life, and the implications of this philosophical shift in society. This is just another way, though very useful, to express some of the key differences between modernity and postmodernism. I appreciated his references to the historical underpinnings of our theology of conversion.

He also includes several useful appendices with information about the Alpha Course, Groups Investigating God, and his Circles of Belonging illustration.

My primary complaint is that this book didn't seem as "outside the box" as the title would suggest. Though he certainly provides a few new paradigms for us to consider, much of this book is nothing more than the prevailing approach to evangelism across American Christianity. He seems to think that his Circles of Belonging illustration is profoundly unique, but it seems to me to be another permutation of the Bridge diagram.

To be clear, I found all of this information to be helpful and well-written. And I recommend the book as a useful resource for anyone interested in learning more about effective evangelism. I simply suggest that is really isn't sufficiently "outside the box" to justify the title. If you really want to read some challenging ideas about evangelism, read Brian McLaren's "More Ready Than You Realize" instead.
Insightful and Thoughtful  Jan 13, 2006
Rick Richardson brings his experience in campus ministry and understanding of the current culture and helps readers come to a new understanding of how to communicate the message of the Gospel in relevant and meaningful ways. Key to Richardson's assessment is the fact that culture and society is changing. Many Evangelical Christians assume that there has always been one of way of presenting the Good News of Jesus. However, Richardson demonstrates that as culture changes, the delivery and presentation does as well. This does not mean that the content changes. Rather, the content remains the same... but it must be communicated in a relevant manner.

This book is a very helpful book in taking a fresh look at the issues surrounding Christian witness in a postmodern world. Rick makes use of comparisons between the kind of questions university students used to ask in generations past to the sort of questions being asked today. It is not that the old questions are never asked anymore. Rather, to get to those questions, Christians must first address the questions that people are asking today.

I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to adjust how we relate and communicate the Gospel to postmoderns.
Evangelism Outside the Box  Apr 8, 2005
(...)I've been reading through Rick Richardson's Evangelism Outside the Box, and I thought I'd take a few moments to offer some reflections.

Here's the bottom line up front: parts of this book strike me as shallow and weak (especially in terms of application and practice), but in a number of places - particularly where he analyzes cultural shifts, and considers how our practices are perceived by unbelievers - Richardson is spot on. Where this book is good, its really good; fast-paced, easily accessible, it's definitely worth the price of admission.

I found Richardson's analysis of postmodernism (Ch 2, 3) very, very helpful. While I'm not sure I buy his division of history into intellectual epochs, he understands that strange things are afoot at our cultural Circle K's. He illustrates well how allegiances of modernism are shifting:

  • in truth - people are no longer interested in abstract, universal truth; they are looking for a truth that is "local, personal, experiential" - in a word: they want authenticity.

  • in community - people aren't looking for experts who have all the answers; they are looking for friends who can identify with their struggles - they want "a community to belong to rather than a message to believe in"

  • in imagination - people increasingly value art, beauty, heartfelt expression over sterile conformity to standards of "rightness" - its not so much what you say as how you say it.

Richardson offers a great summary of postmodern values:

"This generation of people understand that a picture can be worth a thousand words. They value authenticity as their highest ethic. They can't stand hypocrisy, or 'playing politics.' They tend to be inclusive, passionate for fairness, committed to reconciliation in relationships. They are highly motivated toward community and are very aware of actions that break trust and community. They honor the beliefs and choices of other people." (p. 83)

Anyone who has spent any time with unbelievers will recognize that Richardson knows that of which he speaks. This is where people outside our churches are at; this is where those leaving the church are headed. Heck - this is where I am!

Those of us left in the church had better figure out (soon) how to re-contextualize our message to speak to these people or we will render ourselves irrelevant.

Ch 10 is also a keeper, as Richardson wrestles with the importance of building community:

"Today people are looking for a community to belong to more than a message to believe in. Evangelism is about helping people belong so that they come to believe. Most people today do not 'decide' to believe. In community they 'discover' that they believe, and then they decide to affirm that publicly and to follow Christ intentionally." (p. 100)

I think Richardson is dangerously accurate in his analysis here: in my experience, this is precisely what unbelievers are looking for - a place where they can belong just as they are. I use the word 'dangerously' for a reason, however. You see, once we see a problem clearly, we naturally start thinking about the solution. In so doing, however, there are several potential pitfalls we must be careful to avoid.

(...) Overall, this book is definitely worth buying and reviewing. Just read it thoughtfully...
Postmodern must not stray from biblical methods  Feb 2, 2004
While it may be true that some have been saved by this method of evangelism, and have continued to be saved throughout their lives, the end result is usually not that happy. Statistics show that there is an 80-90% fall away rate from decisions in our churches, and nearly a 100% fall away rate from Crusades. Bill Bright himself, in one of his later interviews, admits that he was wrong for using and promoting this method because of the tragic results it produces (Revivals Golden Key, p.83). Rather than producing real conversions, the "love, joy, peace" gospel seems to only produce stoney-ground hearers and bitter backsliders who are innoculated to the gospel message.
Martin Luther called the ones in his day who used the same love-joy-peace gospel message that the majority of modern evangelists use a "sect" that was "stirred up by Satan"

I would not recommend these tracts or this method, but rather the method that Jesus, Paul, all of the great preachers in history (including C.H. Spurgeon, Wesley, Finney, Edwards, Moody etc) have used and promoted vigorously. This is the biblical method that is timeless, was shown to us by Jesus and expounded upon by Paul. I think we can mix this method with post-modern ideas, but we cant stray from the core of it, for if we do that we are straying from the method the Bible teaches us.
It is the use of the law to bring men to Christ. For a good book on this, i recommend reading "Hells Best Kept Secret" by Ray Comfort, or "Revivals Golden Key" by ray comfort.

Biblical, Innovative and Practical  Sep 19, 2003
Rick Richardson does a good job here of getting 21st century Christians to THINK about evangelism in new and innovative ways. He encourages readers to get a better understanding of today's society, emphasizing that we as a church can't provide Biblical answers if we don't take time to listen to the questions. The author stays true to his title and draws outside the lines to explore new means of bringing people to Christ.

Some people may misunderstand this book, thinking that Richardson is forsaking the time-honored gospel by substituting church growth gimmicks and man-made strategies. Actually Richardson is very conservative in his theology, but very progressive in his methodology. Unless the reader distinguishes between the two, he/she will have a difficult time benefiting from this work.

I recommend this book to all believers, especially church leaders, who are looking for new ways to cultivate relationships with the lost and to bring them to salvation in Christ.


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