By Janis Backing
CHICAGO – Evangelism is a rare spiritual gift and one not needed in abundance in the church, according to the authors of a book that is helping everyday Christians face down their fears in sharing their faith.
“What is needed in abundance is a body of Christians ready and willing to do the work of an evangelist,” say E. Joel Van Hoogen and Charles A. Cook, authors of Pathway to the Soul: Reaching People Through Spirit-Led Dialogue (Moody Publishers).
The authors have good news for those wanting to share the Good News: It doesn’t depend on your genius, gifting or interpersonal skills.
The key for reaching individuals for Christ in any culture, in any religious context and in any place is to recognize the preceding work of the Holy Spirit, working in the hearts of people ahead of us, the authors explain. “In every situation, we do not so much bring the Holy Spirit with us … we find him already there.”
Too often, the authors add, Christians tend to assume the worst in every potential evangelistic dialogue. We anticipate resistance, dullness and dismissiveness from our unbelieving family and friends. Instead, what we need to anticipate is the strength of the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives.
The authors not only bring a much-needed corrective to self-reliance, they also give page after page of practical advice on how to naturally converse with people about spiritual things and effectively, humbly and courageously speak out for God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
“We are ready-made to share the Gospel with those who are being made ready for it. Both are more ready than we know!” Van Hoogen and Cook say.
However, they caution that reading a book on personal evangelism is a “dangerous thing to do if we’re not ready to take action. There is much to be lost. It is time for us to move out and enter into dialogue with the people whom God has put all around us and in whom the Spirit is at work.”