We all face it, and Isaac Adams takes a vulnerable approach to the subject in his short 9Marks title What If I’m Discouraged in My Evangelism. The book is part of a series called Church Questions. I reviewed another title in this series of helpful short books for believers called What If I Don’t Desire to Pray.
In this title, Adams tackles evangelism’s big problem in modern 21st-century churches with a hopeful approach. Too many believers struggle with evangelism because of fear, inadequacy, or just apathy. Adams tries to encourage believers struggling with sharing their faith by focusing on God’s hopeful promises and his character. As he says, the book aims at “those who want to share the gospel message but, for whatever reasons, struggle to do so faithfully.”
The Content of What If I’m Discouraged in My Evangelism
The book contains 9 sections discussing the Hope we Christians have in God. There’s a great illustration for our reaction to the reaction by others to our message. Too many would-be evangelists avoid telling their story because they fear rejection by the recipient. Adams compares us to a mailman. Does a mailman feel anxious that those on his route will reject the letters, bills, and junk mail she delivers? No! She does her job and faithfully delivers the mail every day between Noon and 2:00 p.m. to the Purcell house.
After this great illustration, Adams begins dealing with the question: “What’s Our Hope?“ Each of the 9 answers comes with biblical support and real-world examples meant to encourage the reader. We read that we should…
- ”…fix your eyes on Jesus.” to avoid discouragement.
- Remember that we are evangelists in the home with our children.
- Be like Paul or Jonah and preach the word, whether you do so with great skill or meager efforts.
- Remember that God is the one who saves, not us or our methods!
- Know that rejection is a cause for celebration because it makes us more like Christ, who was rejected and promised we’d face rejection.
These are a few of the encouragements Adams offers.
One Nitpick Criticism
Under the sixth answer to the question “What’s Our Hope?”, the author uses Jonah as an example of a “reluctant evangelist.” I agree, as we all should, that Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. He ran the opposite way. However, he also returned when God gave him a second chance. That’s a hopeful reminder.
The problem arises when Adams says Jonah then offered “the most pathetic call to repentance in all of Scripture.” He quoted Jonah 3:4, where we’re told Jonah measly said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The argument is that we get no other message or pronouncement. Is that true?
The book of Jonah doesn’t tell us of any other statements by Jonah, but the implication is that Jonah stood up and said nothing else in Nineveh. The converts began pouring down the aisles seeking salvation. Not really, but that’s how it would happen in a modern revivalist era. In Jonah’s day, they believed God and repented.
Did Jonah really never say another thing? I don’t know. Isn’t it possible that Jonah did say other things, but all we get is a brief summary? After all, we’re told in John 21:25 that we don’t get a record of all Jesus did because the world couldn’t hold all the books necessary to tell every detail of his life. Maybe the same holds true for Jonah.
As I said, that’s a minor criticism of an otherwise fine work.
Isaac Adams did a good job of offering some simple encouragement with biblical support for the most part. He offers practical explanations of his main points and the practical application of how to move forward in hope.
The short little book won’t take you long to read. You could easily consume it over days with one section per day read devotionally along with your other scripture reading and prayer. You could also sit down and attack it in one or two sittings as I did.
However, you read the book, read it. As a pastor, I’ll possibly take the content and passages used to cover each of the 9 answers and turn them into a sermon series or, more likely, a three-part Bible study for a Wednesday night discipleship time.