Some types of evangelism techniques have gotten a bad rap because they use a blend of aggressiveness and fear tactics to try to convert someone to their own beliefs. As a result, some Christians are weary of evangelism all together. But Jim Henderson breathes life and hope into the idea of fulfilling the Great Commission for even the most timid believer in his new book, a.k.a. "LOST", which argues that evangelism can be as normal as asking questions, listening to people and being responsive to their needs.
Henderson's approach to evangelism is as simple as a-b-c and 1-2-3. He doesn't believe in looking at people who aren't Christians as "lost" but prefers the term "missing persons." This may seem like semantics, but it represents a larger paradigm shift in the way people are approached. No longer is it our duty to "save" people, but rather to recognize them as individuals God is passionately pursuing. This helps erase any sense of superiority and invites Christians to partner with God to nudge others toward a real relationship with Jesus.
He writes, "When it comes to evangelism, we can be our ordinary selves, and it turns out to be good enough. It turns out that all Jesus needs are the five loaves and two fish of our lives --- something we already have. Rather than trying to escape the ordinary, we should exploit it and attempt something small for God, something ordinary."
The style of evangelism that Henderson encourages is refreshingly simple and literally anyone can do it. He encourages readers to develop "the art of noticing" by simply reflecting on the people in their lives and celebrating moments with them. He suggests asking questions about faith and spirituality and listening to people's answers --- without trying to share your own beliefs right off the bat. He encourages small talk, avoiding Christian clichés and saying "Wow" when you don't know what else to say. For some, that may seem like common sense 101, but Henderson is somehow able to communicate these basic truths with a contagious sense of compassion and love.
The book itself is dotted with stories of everyday people who are impacting their world one conversation and one day at a time. Most of these stories don't end with the dramatic convert falling on their knees and becoming a Christian. Rather they demonstrate people coming one click closer to a relationship with their redeemer. For those weary of traditional evangelism approaches, the message is both freeing and compelling.
With chapters including "Boldness Is Overrated," "Do What's Doable" and "Out of Religion and Into Reality," readers get the sense that even the biggest scaredy cat can be brave when it comes to sharing their faith. Each chapter ends with a section on "Attempting the Ordinary," which provides very practical ideas on how to live out the message of the book.
Overall, a.k.a "LOST" is a refreshing read. The book moves forward at a comfortable, conversational pace. If the idea of evangelism leaves you shaking in your boots, you'll find yourself both encouraged and challenged by this book.
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg on June 7, 2005