by Paul Borthwick
Affect someone’s heart motivation and you will increase their effectiveness of reaching non-Christians, regardless of the methodology used.
NavPress, P. O. Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO: 80935, 2003, 192 pages, $10.00.
—Reviewed by Bill Jones, professor of evangelism-missions at Columbia Biblical Seminary, Columbia International University, Columbia, South Carolina.
Because you are holding a copy of EMQ in your hands, it is safe to assume that you have a heart for people to experience the life-changing power of faith in Christ. Yet, when was the last time you shared the message of God’s love and forgiveness with someone? Ouch! And if that’s true of those of us who read journals like this, what about everyone else in the family of God?
Borthwick, in his typical, well-organized, well-illustrated and practical manner, goes to the heart of the matter. He insightfully realizes that our problem is not a lack of programs, but more often than not, a lack of passion. Rather than providing another book on techniques, he focuses on nine “heart builders” to increase one’s zeal. His thesis simply stated: Affect someone’s heart motivation and you will increase their effectiveness of reaching non-Christians, regardless of the methodology used.
This resource begins with the refreshing reminder that zeal for people flows from a heartfelt desire to know God more intimately for ourselves. From there Borthwick examines our worldview: Are our beliefs about Jesus, eternity and the lost truly heart-felt or have they become merely academic? (This section contains a summary of another book by Borthwick, Six Dangerous Questions, see below.)
The next few heart builders have this common theme: We must get our eyes off ourselves. Two chapters focus on the role God plays in a person coming to Christ. One details the power of the Holy Spirit which God releases in and through the Christian as he steps out in faith—in spite of his fears. Another clearly communicates how God works in the life of the non-Christian, sometimes long in advance of the Christian’s verbal witness. Two other heart builders focus on the unbeliever. The first reviews George Hunter’s ten characteristics of a secular person, followed by seven questions (perhaps the best part of the book) to ask such a person to better understand their worldview. This same idea is expounded in one of the appendices.
The second heart builder focusing on the unbeliever shows the importance of developing a heart like God’s, one which is dissatisfied until it has entered the world of those in need.
Only in the last chapter does the focus shift from inward motivation to outward methodology. The final heart builder examines ten creative ideas to reach out to others. One unique suggestion requires all church leaders to be involved in at least one activity/club outside their local church.
As the North American culture continues shifting toward secularism, strategists produce more and more needed resources on how to contextualize the church’s outreach to be more effective at reaching the unchurched. Borthwick wisely reminds us that as we continue to sharpen our methods, not to forget one vital ingredient: a heart-felt passion for those separated from God.
Check these titles:
Borthwick, Paul. 1996. Six Dangerous Questions. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Jones, Bill. 1995. The One-Verse Method Using John 3:16. Columbia, S.C.: Crossover Communications International.
McDowell, Josh. 2002. Beyond Belief to Convictions. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale.
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