Review by Sam Chan, who is a public evangelist for City Bible Forum in Australia. He is the author of Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News About Jesus More Believable (Zondervan Academic) as well as a forthcoming book, How To Talk About Jesus (Without Being That Guy): Personal Evangelism in a Skeptical World (Zondervan), which releases in October.
As a preacher and evangelist, I like to say that the application for any sermon—no matter the Bible passage—should be: “Tell your friends about Jesus.” It’s a joke, of course. Because that’s a lazy application—one guaranteed to get guilty looks from the congregation.
But why are we so bad at telling our friends about Jesus? In part, because in today’s post-Christian Western world, we’re told to keep our beliefs to ourselves. Our faith is supposed to be private, not public. In this environment, talking about Jesus is seen as judgmental, intolerant, and oppressive.
Last year, an article in Christianity Today carried a revealing headline: “Half of Millennial Christians Say It’s Wrong to Evangelize.” Evidently, evangelism is hated by significant numbers of both Christians and non-Christians! Who would have thought that a mutual dislike for evangelism would unite us all?
And yet, a desire to share the gospel with friends runs—or at least should run—through the DNA of every Christian. So how can we start talking about Jesus again?
This is the question at the heart of Rebecca Manley Pippert’s latest book , Stay Salt. Pippert, of course, is best known for her classic book on evangelism, Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life. First published in 1979, Out of the Saltshaker was written to equip believers for evangelism in a culture that was drifting in post-Christian directions. Four decades later, those forces have only accelerated, but Pippert hasn’t lost any confidence that the gospel message can break through walls of hostility and indifference, even in the context of everyday conversations. As the subtitle of Stay Salt puts it, “The World Has Changed: Our Message Must Not.”
A Multi-Pronged Approach
There are three sections in Stay Salt. In the first, Pippert looks at what she calls the means of evangelism—in other words, you and me, the “evangelists.” None of us feels adequate when confronted with the juggernaut of hostile Western secularism. But Pippert reassures us that this is precisely how God works our circumstances. God uses us not despite but because of our smallness, weaknesses, and inadequacies. We are supposed to depend upon God for the courage and strength to evangelize.
In the second section, Pippert takes us through the message of evangelism—the gospel. Here we might roll our eyes. Don’t we already know this stuff? But Pippert got me excited about the gospel with the fresh language she uses. She skillfully presents the gospel as both a rebuttal to the accepted doctrines of secularism and a positive message our friends will want to hear.
In the final section, Pippert outlines the method of evangelism. This might seem like another occasion for eye-rolling. Surely not another formulaic technique! But Pippert instead motivates us to love our friends and to “proclaim” the message through questions and conversations rather than a pre-rehearsed monologue.
Stay Salt got me genuinely excited to tell my friends about the gospel and its many glories. There are three main reasons for this. First, the book preached the gospel at me so that I rediscovered my first love. It’s worth reading Stay Salt just to enjoy the wonder and beauty of the gospel message. This is exactly what will get us talking about Jesus again.
Second, I appreciated hearing stories from Pippert’s life of evangelism. These stories are both instructional and inspirational. But more importantly, Pippert has stories of conversations with strangers on a plane and family members alike. As a public evangelist myself, I know it’s far easier to have conversations with strangers I’ll never see again than with family members I’ll encounter every Thanksgiving!
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Source: Christianity Today