by Scott Dawson with Scott Lenning
Dawson interviewed “as many people as we could from all walks of life” to read the vital signs of life for doing evangelism.
Baker Books, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287, 2009, 190 pages, $14.99.
—Reviewed by Keith E. Eitel, dean, Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Change is inevitable, especially when communicating the ancient truth of the gospel to a world changing at broadband speed. It seems, more often than not, that compromise is happening when we contextualize God’s truth into our fluid, modern world. The most momentous decisions we are making these days have less to do with what needs to change than it does about what we need to leave the same. The message itself is in jeopardy. Scott Dawson discusses this theme with rich practical experience as well as theological training.
Dawson interviewed “as many people as we could from all walks of life” to read the vital signs of life for doing evangelism. His single inquiry was, “In your opinion, what will it take to be effective in reaching people for Christ in the next ten years?” Dawson admits that he did not do formal sociological research. The book reflects anecdotal evidence drawn from those he decided have “a keen interest in evangelism” (p.17). The author aims at balance between a “traditional position followed by sympathy with the emerging church.” He concluded three things: “that the gospel is still relevant to society…that the church is at a crossroads of belief…[and] that God is still working around us” (pp. 18-19).
There are eleven chapters ordered around three aims. The type of evidence Dawson used limits the range of conclusions one may rightly state. At points it seems to reflect sermonic alliteration and style. His findings indicate that there is a “shift from event to experience” (p. 18). Yet he still uses events himself and illustrates that by the fact that his organization hosted an evangelistic event attached to a baseball game where reportedly “close to 1,000 people” responded to an invitation out of a stadium filled with “over 13,000 people” (pp. 114-117).
Dawson’s passion for the ongoing need to proclaim God’s eternal good news of Christ is the strength of the book. He anchors his commitment in stating, “My methods will change as society does, but my principles will remain the same” (p.114). This reader asks whether it is possible for society to change so radically that it cannot be a reliable basis for either detecting or defining change per se. Ascertaining what needs to remain the same is of great importance.
Check these titles:
Johnston, Thomas P. 2009. Understanding Evangelizology: A Biblical-Historical Perspective on Evangelism. Liberty, Mo.: Evangelism Unlimited.
Newman, Randy. 2004. Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did. Grand Rapids: Mich.: Kregel.
EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 2, pp. 244. Copyright © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.