I know many of you make greater room for reading over the summer in general, and on holidays in particular. Pastor Andrew and I have, therefore, often used our summer e-bulletins to highlight books that have influenced us. I wish to take a few of my bi-weekly Friday missives to continue this tradition, starting with the topic of evangelism. Curiously, evangelicals have an uneasy relationship with evangelism. We know we “ought to”, perhaps have even spent time and money on various schemes of training and method, only to remain feeling fruitless: we are no better at sharing Christ, whether measured by frequency or effectiveness. The pastors and elders of CBC Ilderton aim to help in this regard (no, not in making you feel more fruitless!); to see our church edified and discipled toward effective gospel ministry.
One resource that will help in this regard is the classic Tell the Truth by Will Metzger. Metzger has served with Inter Varsity as a campus minister at the University of Delaware for over 50 years, and his experience shows in the breadth of reflection in this wonderful book on a topic so often reduced to quick and trendy methods. I deeply appreciate Metzger’s heart for faithful evangelism and genuine conversions. He desires to see the gospel understood and shared faithfully within a biblical framework. Toward this end much of the first two of three sections is devoted to a kind of ‘theology of evangelism’. I know many people will write this book off after reading that – don’t be one of those people! So often we just want someone to tell us how to do something better, “give me a fool-proof method”, rather than digging in a bit to understand something well ourselves. If you struggle to be a faithful witness to your faith, chances are good that you either have a limited understanding of the gospel or a limited understanding of our Sovereign God’s involvement in our gospel witness. Knowing God and his gospel more fully and intimately will almost inevitably compel you to share your faith more regularly and lovingly. And this is Metzger’s goal, to see Christian’s share their faith truthfully and regularly, but also naturally and lovingly; and this is evidenced through the applicational section of the book. Part 3 contains an impressive array of practical help to better understand our culture and our witnessing opportunities. Chapters include: Getting Started, Conversation Turners, Conversation with Direction, The Uninterested, Preparing your Testimony, Learning to Say What You Mean, and Being a Good Listener (and many other practical topics).
Many of you know my goal of discipling us to share our faith naturally. Metzger writes helpfully:
Many committed Christians flounder in personal evangelism because sharing religious ideas in conversation seems unnatural or forced. In many cases this problem exists because of a compartmentalization in their thinking – a thought-world divided into compartments labeled “gospel”, “art”, “marriage” and so on. The contents of any one of these compartments is only superficially related to the contents of another. As a result, the gospel seems an intruder in a conversation instead of being an integral part of a dynamic, ongoing dialogue that encompasses the whole of life.”
I believe this book will help you understand better the world God created and thus how each element interrelates such that introducing Christian ideas, and even the gospel itself, comes more naturally to you. Please consider this wonderful and thorough resource which is widely available online. I have also purchased a library copy currently residing in my office :); feel free to drop by to take a look!
 Will Metzger, Tell the Truth, 4th Edition, (Downers Grove, IL, IVP Books, 2012)