Forward by David Platt
Describes the interaction he has had with Stiles church. Stiles is an elder. Platt met person after person who have been directly influenced by Stiles’ evangelism. Platt met people who were now spending time sharing their faith with others. He observed a church in which the “culture” of evangelism was spreading, not just people sharing their faith on occasion.
Stiles takes some time stating he is not focused on coming up with a marketing plan for evangelism nor focusing on human understanding nor arguing someone in the kingdom. Stiles states “I believe that God loves the world and has a wonderful plan for evangelism; His church.” This is the premise of the book. That God has given the duty to the church (people) to share the message of salvation. Stiles goes on to say that he is not necessarily a great evangelist but God has used him to develop this “culture” of evangelism.
1. Altar Calls and Laser Lights
1. Stiles tells the story of a time his friend and him walked up to the front of the church as his friend accepted Christ. It was commercialized and confusing. Stiles then goes on to define evangelism.
2. Stiles defines evangelism as “teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.” Stiles breaks this down by saying teaching is heralding and proclaiming. The gospel is the message form God that leads us to salvation. This message includes the aim that people are persuaded, or convinced. Stiles is quick to say that persuade does not mean manipulate. The chapter goes into the four parts, (teaching, gospel, aim, and persuade) very clearly. For gospel, Stiles says, “The gospel message answers four big questions: Who is God? Why are we in such a mess? What did Christ do? And how can we get back to God?”
3. Stiles speaks of evangelism humbly in that he recognizes that God has used a variety of means to lead people to Himself.
4. Walking down an aisle or raising your hand is not the public declaration of faith the bible speaks of. The bible speaks of baptism as the means for this to occur.
5. Jesus was “engaging, but he never entertained.”
6. “The hope in evangelism is that we so steep ourselves in gospel truth and gospel living, and so apply ourselves to gospel study, that the gospel can’t help but come out of us.” p. 34
7. “Evangelists are like trained counselors who are called upon to talk to people threatening suicide. Their aim is to talk potential jumpers off the ledge. The counselors don’t use force and don’t lie. They use truth, hope, and reason to persuade. They stay calm and cool; plus, they are kind, because they know a life is at stake.” p.39
2. A Culture of Evangelism
1. Stiles begins this chapter speaking of the reasons people do not evangelize. He speaks first of fear and then people being so rooted in the church and only church activities that they sometimes don’t have interactions with outsiders.
2. Most people are brought into church and the faith through family members or friends. When Christians intentionally talk about the gospel with people they know, people get saved.
3. When the “culture” of evangelism spreads through the church it no longer becomes a burden but people get excited as they help each other out.
4. This “culture of evangelism
1. Is motivated by love of Jesus and His gospel
2. Is confident in the gospel.
3. Understands the danger of entertainment
4. Sees people clearly
5. Pulls together as one
6. Includes people teaching people
7. Models evangelism
8. People who share their faith are celebrated.
9. Knows how to affirm and celebrate new life
10. Ministry feels risky and dangerous
1. “I long for a culture of evangelism that is risky in the sense that we’re confronting culture. Mostly that means disregarding what people think of us.” p. 59
11. A culture that understands that the church is the chosen and best method of evangelism.
3. Connecting Church and a Culture of Evangelism
1. This chapter explains that the local church working together can do great things for the gospel but the local church needs to understand that the “main task of the church is to be the church.” … “the church’s role is not to run programs”
2. People need to think how they can be reaching out and not leave that to the full time ministry workers.
3. Stiles describes what a healthy church looks like and how it is Christ centered. He goes into this because we need an accurate view of the churches mission to understand where the local church plays into evangelism and equipping believers.
4. Intentional Evangelists in a Culture of Evangelism
1. Here we begin to see how Stiles’ church does evangelism. The church is active in handing out new books to lead people to Christ when they first come to the church. The Spirit leads people to work independently yet together as they share their faith.
2. Congregations are not led by guilt but by knowing they are ambassadors for Christ.
3. “Churches must treat the gospel as a way of life. Gospel centrality is crucial to a culture of evangelism.” p.88
1. We sing the gospel
2. We pray the gospel
3. We preach the gospel
4. We look for the gospel in our bible studies.
5. Actually Sharing Our Faith
1. Give yourself grace when you share
2. Meet people where they are
3. Look for open doors
4. Be compassionate
5. Remember we have answers to life’s biggest questions
6. Be intentional in your conversation
7. It’s good to ask permission to share the gospel
8. Ask lots of questions, be a good listener
9. If you know someone has an issue in life, learn about it before hand.
2. Stiles' main way he shares the gospel is by developing a friendship and asking the person if they are willing to go through the gospel of Mark. As they go through the gospel either one on one or in a small group, Stiles will share the gospel and ask pointed questions in time. He has seen many people come to Christ over the years through this method.
3. Sharing the gospel has an impact on the people who do it, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every god thing we have in Christ.” Philemon 6