Just hearing the word “evangelism” conjures up images of Bible-toters going door-to-door spreading the Good News. Most non-believers avoid answering the door, or feel strong-armed if they do get caught in the net called “witnessing.” Even most Christians become nervous at the thought of evangelism. Why? Because they have been guilted into believing they are somehow “less than” if they do not follow a specific pattern of what some call soul-winning. The thing is, the Good News sounds an awful lot like bad news, starting with, “You must acknowledge you are a sinner.” This is off-putting for the one witnessing as well as the non-believer.
Today’s culture presents challenges to sharing the gospel that were not present 20 to 30 years ago. Why create an antagonistic atmosphere that can be perceived as judgmental? It only shuts the door to the opportunity for future conversations.
Isn’t there a better way?
A Forgotten Gospelpresents a pattern that ordinary Christians can use to share Christ without alienating friends, loved ones and co-workers. Author Mark McGrath studied every instance a Christ-follower shared the gospel to a non-believer in Acts, and found some common denominators. Interesting, these factors are not found in most patterns for evangelism. A Forgotten Gospel shows believers how to present the gospel using a relevant biblical pattern with a flexible, conversational approach. The old models don’t hold up in today’s fast-paced, post-modern society.
About the Author:
Building on 25 years of church-planting experience—with churches started in New York, New Jersey and Great Britain—Mark McGrath, President of McGrath Communications Group, brings a unique blend of professional communications skills training and passionate commitment to developing effective church leaders. Mark conducts evangelism training with several national Campus ministries at Rutgers University in New Jersey and has launched an updated version of both the weekend and small group evangelism seminars he developed. These seminars are available to churches across the U.S.
Mark’s Practical Thoughts on Evangelism
Most of us are surrounded by people we care about, people we’d love to see respond to the gospel. We can readily picture the faces of immediate and extended family members, neighbors, friends and coworkers as we pray.
Sadly, studies show that a large percentage of us are not actively sharing their faith with these loved ones. We’ve become the silent victims of a widespread outbreak of Evangelism Avoidance.
Evangelism Avoidance can be traced to a number of causes:
§ We feel inadequate. While most of us know we have a responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission, the thought of sharing their faith makes most of us feel inadequate, unprepared and just plain nervous. And public speaking – even to an audience of two – just compounds the problem.
§ We don’t want to mess things up. We know the stakes are high and that many of the people we care about have some pretty negative ideas about Christianity and some negative experiences with pushy bible-bashing Christians. We don’t want add to the problem and we don’t want to alienate our friends and family.
§ People don’t understand what we are saying. Using words like “God,” “sin” and “saved” in conversations produces quizzical looks or outright laughter. There might have been a shared understanding of these concepts twenty to thirty years ago, but they’ve been abandoned by today’s diverse culture.
§ We don’t know what to say. And although times have changed, the popular approaches to sharing the Gospel have not. We find ourselves still trying to convince listeners of their sinfulness, creating an antagonistic, counterproductive atmosphere that’s perceived as judgmental and prevents on-going conversations.
But even a quick reading of the Book of Acts shows that New Testament believers didn’t share this struggle. What was their secret? A Forgotten Gospel explores that secret.
§ While preparing to teach his own church the basics of evangelism, church-planting pastor Mark McGrath noticed that the popular evangelism methods he’d learned were very different from those used in the Book of Acts.
§ Digging further, he saw that our modern gospel-presentation methods are largely based on explanations from the New Testament epistles, which are written to those who already believe.
§ Continuing his inventory of New Testament encounters revealed a pattern: Every gospel presentation delivered in the Book of Acts contained the same essential elements and emphasized one central theme.
§ Furthermore, he discovered that by following the example of the New Testament believers and sharing the Gospel with the same elements and the same theme, new doors were opened and people were much more willing to engage in honest conversations about their faith.
Over the years, Christians have done a lot of thinking and re-thinking about evangelism. We’ve moved away from the more confrontational approaches, moved away from the crusade type of evangelism and the “drive-by gospel shooting” approaches where we blitz an area with the ‘gospel’ and then go home. We’ve discovered we need to practice what we preach, care about people before preaching at them. We’ve learned to serve the world around us and be friends with them in the hope of having a chance to see them come to faith. But something is still missing!
“Faith comes by hearing…” No one can catch faith, like the flu. Someone has to share the Gospel with him or her. Hearing requires someone to do the speaking! And that is what makes us nervous all over again. No matter how much we care, how much we serve, what type of friend we’ve become, we will need to share the Gospel with our friends, and we are back at square one again. There is a better way.
Today, Mark McGrath is teaching this easily remembered, New Testament method of evangelism to students on university campuses, as well as to churches in the U.S. and England. In A Forgotten Gospel, he shows believers how to use this same flexible approach to effectively communicate the gospel to their friends.
No longer will caring believers wonder what to say or how to say it. By following the conversational approach explained in A Forgotten Gospel, they’ll be cured of Evangelism Avoidance. And they’ll be ready to clearly and confidently share the Gospel without alienating friends and loved ones.
What Others are Saying
In A Forgotten Gospel, Mark McGrath has taken the truth of the Gospel that “everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and made it simple for today’s contemporary world. Many others died on a cross, but none of them are alive today! Jesus Christ is the king, and he wants our friends to know Him and let Him lead their lives. McGrath gives a new, fresh and yet scriptural approach to the Gospel that makes it easy to share our faith in Christ with our friends and family and then still have meaningful conversations afterwards. Presenting his material has started to encourage my students that they too can share Jesus with the people they live with while still calling them close friends.
Campus Staff for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Rutgers University
Over twenty years ago we embraced the radical change Mark describes here in A Forgotten Gospel and it has completely altered both the approach to and the effect of our outreach. Because this approach coaches people to know how to engage in meaningful conversations with unbelievers, and how to keep the door open for future dialogue, the number of meaningful conversations with non-believers has increased, the level of our relationships with them has deepened, and the church is extremely confident when interacting with those outside the family of God. On top of that, the people who are now beginning to follow Jesus are coming with a genuine faith and real commitment! Whether you have a heart for evangelism or a fear of evangelism, this book is a must read.
Director of LifeLine Network International
I like this! And I’ll tell you why.
It’s clear and simple. It’s positive, like the gospel. It’s full of hope. It’s free of religious jargon.
McGrath’s desire to make the resurrection of Jesus the central aspect of our communication of the gospel to those who need it is right on! Sounds a lot like the book of Acts.
I especially appreciate his emphasis on learning to listen to others and showing real concern for them and their thoughts. His insistence on being sensitive to the voice of God is extremely important. His whole approach is well-balanced and he writes from a broad experience. Very encouraging, indeed!
Missionary in Argentina for 32 years. Author of several books in Spanish and English. Founder and director of two Spanish-language magazines for Christians. Fifty-seven years of Gospel ministry, and married to the same woman for over 55 years. Four children. Nineteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Pastor of a Hispanic church in Miami, Florida.