It's a matter of distribution, say these highly qualified authors. We know the gospel works very effectively to transform lives, and we know there are many spiritually hungry people out there, and all around us in our jobs and places of work, however, the means of getting the gospel to the people is faulty. Too many Christians are afraid they might not be liked if they share their faith. Or any number of other excuses we throw out.
Some of our generation have taught mechanical steps of evangelism to strangers, treating it as an event we can handle cleanly in less than an hour. If we can just get them to pray the sinner's prayer.
Bill and Walt discuss their disapppointing efforts along those lines, and share how they decided that evangelism should be more organic, like farming. In this model evangelism has several stages like sowing, watering, tending, and harvesting and more tending, but one person does not have to do all the stages. When we meet someone new, it may be that others have already accomplished the first two or three stages, and all we need to do is bring in the harvest. It may be the other way around too. We do the first step, sowing the seed, and many others will be involved with that individual before the harvest comes in.
The authors find this agrarian model in Jesus' teaching and are able to show it. On page 24 they provide a chart with the microdecisions a person makes as they move from a cynic and then skeptic stage, through to spectator, seeker, and eventually a believer and a disciple. Even these stages are broken up by degrees, or those micro decisions so that someone who avoids the truth is at -12. At -10 this person is aware of the messenger (the witness), and -9 means they now recognize there is something different about this messenger. They move to Spectator, -7 when they recognize the relevance of the Bible. By the time they understand the implications of the gospel they are at -5. They are a Seeker (-3 to 0) when they recognize their own spiritual need, see Christ as the answer, and turn from self-trust to trusting Christ. After that, of course, they need to continue to grow up the + scale.
This book discusses the faulty thinking of those who separate the secular from the sacred, and the many advantages and ways of going public with our faith - no longer keeping it a private secret but integrating it into all areas of who we are.
"As Christians, we have what people want. And we need to learn how to communicate in ways they can understand." (pp58).
So here the authors give us a handbook with lessons on how to earn the right to be heard by co-workers, keeping it simple and using common courtesies in our presentations, how to foster curiousity, and how to build and prepare an arsenal of short, personal testimonies or faith stories.
These faith stories provide our contacts with glimmpses into what it is like to be a child of God, and just how a life of faith works. Everyone loves a little story, and here you are shown how to weave them into conversations about business decisions, or lost opportunities, or affirmations for your work. And of course, some practical dos and don't.
Really. There is so much excellent advice in this book! Very helpful.
It's hard to touch on everything, but I liked the BATHE acrostic Walt was given by another doctor. (page 139). It doesn't make us a big advice-dispensing counsellor, but rather a great way to ask five questions and draw out the other person to learn a lot about someone in a short time, and thus to be able to direct your approach more wisely and accurately. (I've already got these abbreviated on a sticky note).
For a compact softcover book, this one is tight full of tremendous information and guidelines, which if followed, simply have to make you and me better witnesses. I can only recommend Going Public with Your Faith with my high praise. Please seek it out!