Honest Evangelism: How to Talk about Jesus Even When It’s Tough

“I find evangelism hard,” says Rico Tice in his new book Honest Evangelism: How to Talk about Jesus Even When It’s Tough. That just may be the best opening line in a book about sharing your faith. If you’re looking for a book about easy evangelism, this isn’t the one for you.

“I want to be honest,”  if you tell non-Christians about Jesus, it will be painful. That’s what the books (other than the Bible) don’t tend to tell you.” On the other hand, there is an increasing hunger for the gospel today as well. We need to be honest about the hostility we’ll face, and also excited about the hunger that's out there. This will keep us both realistic and motivated at the same time.

Tice covers a lot of content in this book. He shares the theological truths that will keep us motivated to evangelize. He examines the single reason why we still won’t evangelize: idolatry. “So for as long as Jesus is not my greatest love, I will keep quiet about him in order to serve my greatest love, my idol.” He gives us a clear outline of the truths we must remember to articulate when we evangelize, and teaches two skills that are essential: to ask questions, and to chat our faith.

Not gifted to be an evangelist? God can still use you. “God wants to harness what he has made you to be in order to reach a messed-up world with the unique combination of characteristics that you are.” Tice explains the different approaches to evangelism based on our personalities, and the strengths of each approach. He also includes a list of useful resources on evangelism, apologetics, and one-to-one Bible study at the end of the book.

Helpfully, Rice concludes the book with a survey of the changes in society over the past few decades, and how this changes our approach to evangelism. This was my favorite chapter. Culture has hardened against Christianity, and we must face the blocks in the way of people coming to faith in Christ that never existed before, including the beliefs that:

  1. Christians are weird.
  2. Christianity is untrue.
  3. Christianity is irrelevant.

We're increasingly seeing a fourth objection: “Christianity is intolerant.”

Today, he writes, “Jesus simply isn’t on the agenda; he isn’t even an option to be considered.” Tice explains the implications of these changes on how we evangelize. This chapter alone made the book for me.

I have not read a short book on evangelism that covers so much ground. It not only covers the necessary theological content, but it also confronts the realities we face as we look at the challenge of evangelism today. It also does a great job of equipping and motivating us to actually evangelize.

Evangelism is hard, and our culture makes it even harder. Honest Evangelism gives theological and practical advice on how to evangelize even in our context and with all our fears. I’m preparing a series on evangelism, and I plan on using this book heavily. I highly recommend it.

More from Amazon.com

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

He Descended into Hell?

What happened after Jesus died? We know that his body was laid in Joseph’s tomb, but what about his human soul?

Peddlers vs. Pastors

Are you a peddler of God’s word or a pastor of the Word? Here’s how you can tell.

Church Planting vs. Church Revitalization

Planting and revitalization are apples and oranges. Don’t mix them. You create confusion in the Church when you do. Just look around in North America.

The Idolization of Entrepreneurialism

We love the notion of running our own lives from tip to tail, including vocationally. But that notion is a pipeline of dissatisfaction for many. It corrodes our contentment in the work God has given us, and that’s a problem.

Respect Your Audience

How will I communicate in such a way to respect my audience and treat them as my peers instead of like marginally intelligent preschoolers?

7 Small Changes That Produce Huge Results

Small changes repeated over time. Huge results.

The God Who Washes Feet

I find that I can fathom a lot of things about Jesus. When I think about it, I have a really hard time fathoming that Jesus did anything like washing feet.

“How aptly does it represent to us the whole tenor of his life!” writes Charles Simeon. That’s just the thing: I can pull off a stunt like this once in a while, but it wouldn’t characterize my life. It does, however, characterize God’s. Jesus — second person of the Trinity, the one who holds all things together — is on the floor washing feet.

It’s an action that anticipates the cross. The Jesus who humbles himself enough to wash dirty feet is the one who will lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

It’s not a new thought, but it’s hitting me again with full force: that Jesus washing the feet of the disciples is representative of the nature of God himself. What kind of God would wash my feet? How can I ever absorb all that this means?

Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life?

Mike Wittmer has a specialty. He takes theological confusion, clarifies the issues, and then shows how this theological clarity matters to our lives. He’s done this with a number of topics, most notably the emerging church (remember that?), death and heaven. In his latest book, Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life?, Wittmer does the same with an over-spiritualized view of the Christian life. He answers a critical question: Can you serve Jesus and still enjoy your life?

Having read books like Don’t Waste Your Life and Radical, it’s easy to be confused about this question. Is it okay to enjoy the pleasures of earth — a baseball game, a vacation, or a TV show — or are they an unspiritual waste of our lives, and an abandonment of the mission of God? Wittmer presses this question home: “Have you ever thought you might enjoy life more if you weren’t a Christian?” Do others get all the fun while Christians endure this life and wait for heaven?

It’s a great question. In answering it, Wittmer structures the book around the story of Scripture under the familiar headings of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. He challenges some of the wrongheaded ways we think about the Christian life without removing the tension of living for the purpose of redemption while enjoying life on earth.

  • Do you think that this life doesn’t matter, other than that it’s a dress rehearsal for eternity? That’s spiritualism, and it’s to be rejected just as much as naturalism, the view that this life is all that there is.
  • Do you think that matter is bad, and the spiritual is good? That’s Gnosticism, a serious distortion of biblical teaching.
  • Do you think that heaven is our home, and that we’re strangers here on earth? That too is wrong. Earth, not heaven, is our eternal home.

Wittmer helps us understand our purpose on earth — “to love God, serve neighbor, responsibly cultivate the earth, and rest every seven days.” He helps us understand the breadth of the gospel, and how this applies to our vocations. He even helps us untangles some complicated theological issues, and does so with humor about cats and banjoes. He helps us see that Christianity restores our humanity, so that “our human life and our Christian life are the same life.” In fact, living fully as humans is essential for our mission:

When we eliminate our earthly pleasures, we inevitably limit the reach of our heavenly purpose. If we want to attract people to Jesus, our lives must be attractive…A flourishing human life is the best advertisement for the gospel, and the gospel in turn empowers us to become better people.

I love his conclusion: “Do whatever God is calling you to do, no more and no less. Do it with all your might; then go to bed.” He does answer the question the poses at the beginning of the book: “Not only is it possible to enjoy your life while serving Jesus, but it’s the only way you can.”

There is nothing like good theology made clear, and then applied to life. Becoming Worldly Saints is a book that will help you understand how Christ can make you more, not less, human, so that you can live for God’s redemptive purposes while enjoying your life on this earth.

More from Amazon.com | WTS Books

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Walking with a Limp

Were I left to my devices, choosing the "easier path," I would have little need for God. As it is, my weakness is actually the open door through which the grace and power of God enters.

Not That Bright

You don’t have to bear the burdens of the planet, just bear witness to the one who can.

Thoughts on Note-Taking During Sermons

I want them to see preaching in the worship service not as a lecture or as primarily an educational transmission to their minds, but as prophetic proclamation and as primarily aimed at their hearts.

Sing Your Heart Out

Here are five encouragements to enjoy this privilege and its benefits in the life of the body of Christ.

5 Trends to Watch in the Missional Community Conversation

These are the 5 trends to watch in your local church and in the broader missional church conversation.

  1. Re-Valuing of Sunday as Missional
  2. Customizing Missional for Each Church
  3. Patient Discipleship
  4. Dependence on Prayer
  5. Empowerment of women and youth

Religion Isn’t Dying. It May Be Rising from the Grave.

Religion in Canada isn’t declining nearly as fast as we think. A remarkable new survey finds out what Canadians really believe.

Nine Every Morning

I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.