Reading into discipleship: Be prepared to evangelize

  • Laura Denny
  • 2 May 2018

“I love to read, and I know you like Christian books. Can you give me one book to read that explains what you think it means to be a Christian?

How prepared do you feel to respond to an opportunity like this? Let’s say a co-worker hears you are a Christian and wants to know more. They give you one shot, they ask for one book that will explain what it means to be a Christian. While this may be a dream scenario for some of us, it’s something we all should be and can be prepared for.

Generally speaking, defending our allegiances and affections comes very naturally. We’re happy to enthusiastically stand behind our sports team, hometown, alma mater, etc., but the thought of being put on the spot to defend our faith often gives us the urge to flee for the nearest hill. However, having resources at our disposal can and will help us feel prepared to better respond to these situations. Going one step beyond that, feeling equipped and prepared to share the gospel using resources others have put time into can and should lead us to look for opportunities to share the gospel.

It’s worth putting some thought into what books you’ve read that might be used in this situation and reading some more to consider as options for sharing. Reading evangelistic books can help us keep the mission of sharing the gospel at the forefront of our minds.

So, back to our inquiring colleague. The first step is to consider what you know about them. What to consider when recommending a book: How much reading do they do? How genuinely curious are they? How much time do they have? Do they have any religious background? Allow yourself to consider these things so that you choose something that best answers the call to reach them with the good news.

You may want to start with a short booklet that will communicate basic truths well, and perhaps interest them enough to read another. If not, at least it has left them with some truth to consider. If they’re an eager reader and seem to have some genuine interest in learning more about what you believe, a longer book that takes a deeper look at who God is and what that means for them would be a better choice.

For the booklet type, Rico Tice’s Capturing God would be a great way to give your friend a glimpse into what the Bible says about who God is. It’s easy to read and friendly, with stories and illustrations. Tice gives his readers a glimpse of who God reveals himself to be in Scripture and how this story centers on Christ. He gradually builds a word picture at the end of each chapter, ending in a picture of the cross—where God’s love and justice and mercy are best displayed.

John Chapman’s A Fresh Start is a great example of a longer book that does an excellent job of presenting the gospel to an interested reader. Chapman uses questions, stories and illustrations that draw his readers in and help them begin to grasp the big picture he’s painting. Just a scan of the chapter titles would pique the interest of a curious or doubtful reader. Headings such as “Can I trust the Gospels?” and “Why isn’t good enough, good enough?” hint at the book’s ability to tackle some of the tough topics that come with the task of evangelism. An advantage to sharing a longer book that addresses these tough topics is that it provides a more natural framework for further conversation during or after reading.

Of course, no matter what book you choose, be eager to re-learn the gospel along with your workmate. If you’ve chosen a longer book, offer to read too, and discuss questions along the way. Depending on the information, assumptions and background someone is starting with, they may be able to breeze through the book and save discussion til the end. Or they may feel lost or confused a couple chapters in, and need to process and question what they’ve read as they go. What a great opportunity this is for us to refresh our understanding and appreciation for the truths of the life changing news of the gospel!

Many Christians (myself included!) would say they feel unqualified to evangelize. At least, our excuses say it for us. But with a wealth of resources—good books, to be specific—at our disposal, we should be that much more eager to follow Peter’s instruction to gently and respectfully share the reason for the hope that is in us (1 Pet 3:15).