Mark R. Teasdale. Evangelism for Non-Evangelists: Sharing the Gospel Authentically. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2016. See here to purchase the book.
Mark R. Teasdale teaches evangelism at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, which is in Evanston, Illinois.
If you are reading this book and expect it to be a how-to on how you
can share your faith, then you will be disappointed. Teasdale
acknowledges on pages 108-109: “I hope it is clear by now that I am not
arguing for the adoption of specific practices of evangelism but
providing insights that help us navigate the often tricky route of
putting our evangelism into practice.”
Teasdale’s method of evangelism, in my opinion, is best summarized on
page 141, where Teasdale refers to his “insistence on holding
evangelism and [spiritual] formation together rather than treating them
Teasdale is not offering canned device about how to sell the Gospel.
Rather, he is talking about Christians clarifying to themselves what
they authentically believe, being willing to learn from others, living
an alternative lifestyle of giving that can attract people’s attention
and admiration, and inviting people to a Christian community where
Christ’s love is shared.
Part of me would have preferred a how-to book, but I wonder: Would I
really? Would I prefer an approach that gives Christians a script to
read? Would I prefer an approach that stereotypes the people to whom
Christians evangelize, as if life is that neat? Teasdale’s approach is
more authentic, and it values authenticity.
Teasdale discusses the historic Enlightenment barriers to
evangelicalism: how the Enlightenment treated religion as a private
pleasure or preference, while prioritizing what could be supported by
senses or reason. Teasdale also talks about postmodernism and where he
believes it can be an asset and a liability to evangelism. On page 49,
Teasdale depicts God as loving and kind, one who is non-violent and will
not establish the Kingdom of God by force. After reading that, I
wondered how Teasdale would address Bible passages that seem to suggest
In light of the above, part of me wishes that this book had more of
an apologetic element. But I wonder: Do I really? Do I want to read a
rehash of the same canned answers and arguments, as if these answers and
arguments are infallible? Maybe Teasdale does well to present
Christianity as a narrative and a lifestyle that is lived, a narrative
and a lifestyle that impacts Christians and that Christians can invite
others to join. I somewhat like Teasdale’s chapter on how Christians
can clarify to themselves what they believe, and why, for, while it has
Christian parameters, it is rather open-ended, in areas.
I should add: While apologetics is not a significant element in this
book, Teasdale does appeal to anecdotal evidence for the supernatural.
Rather than being a how-to book on evangelism, the book is more about
the attitude and the approach that Christians should have in
evangelism. I value this book for what it is, rather than heavily
criticizing it for what it isn’t.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest!
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