Evangelism Essential Reading

Mark Dever's book, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007) is one of the best books on evangelism I've ever come across. Of course this is only to be expected; anyone who's familiar with Dever and 9 Marks will know of his commitment to Biblical Understanding of the Good News, Biblical Understanding of Conversion, and Biblical Understanding of Evangelism, all of which come together here to make for some excellent, Biblical and very practical teaching.

The chapter titles give a very clear overview of the contents:

1. Why Don't We Evangelize?

2. What is the Gospel?

3. Who Should Evangelize?

4. How Should We Evangelize?

5. What Isn't Evangelism?

6. What Should We Do After We Evangelize?

7. Why Should We Evangelize?

(I like chapter titles that actually give you an idea of what your going to get, and in this book each chapter does indeed 'do exactly what it says on the tin'.)

I think the chapter on 'What isn't evangelism' is incredibly valuable. Perhaps it's my particular local context, but I'm constantly explaining the difference between evangelism and personal testimony (or at least attempting to). In French there is no difference between the word for witness and the word for testimony, so when people hear verses like 'you shall be witnesses to me' (Acts 1:8), they tend to interpret it as meaning that we need to share our personal testimony, rather than witness to what Christ has done. It's a simple mistake, but unfortunately it often leads to a man-centred, rather than God-centred message. Dever points out this mistake, along with a number of other traps that we can easily fall into, and so helps us to avoid mistakenly replacing evangelism with something else.

Dever also gives some very practical advice. One thing that particularly struck me was his personal practice of regularly going to the same shops, cafes, etc. so as to regularly come into contact with the same people in order to have opportunities to share the gospel with them. It's such a simple thing, yet provides a great way for people who spend their working (or studying) days with other Christians to find opportunities for evangelism.

Dever is very clear throughout his book as to what the true gospel is,and what the appropriate response is. He doesn't try to avoid sin and repentance, but makes very clear that they are essential concepts to true evangelism. This book leaves no room for compromise; Dever takes a firm stand for biblical truth.

If you've ever wondered about evangelism (what it is, or how to do it), or even just want some advice on how to do it better, this is the book for you!

Whether you're a new Christian, a mature believer, a seasoned evangelist, a minister of the Gospel, or a seminary professor, I strongly recommend that you read this book.

As John Macarthur comments on the back cover, 'Doing [evangelism] effectively requires doing it biblically. Mark teaches us how to mobilize our churches to do just that.'