Sowing, Reaping, Keeping - People Sensitive Evangelism (2nd edition)
Laurence Singlehurst, IVP, 2006, £6.99, 160 pp., ISBN 978 184474 138 0
The first edition of this title hit my desk in 1997/ 98, a gift from a church member. Since then a copy has been kept on that part of my bookshelves which I can reach from my desk. Laurence Singlehurst’s integration of the principles of the parable of the sower with a firm grasp of what has happened to British society and cultures gives a simple but masterly analysis of what is needed for effective evangelism in a post-modern society.
The argument is simple. What farmer would take a combine harvester into a field expecting to reap a harvest, when he has neither prepared the soil nor planted and tended the seeds? Nor would he stay in business long if he was not also prepared to look after what he had reaped. Churches and Christians must be prepared to sow and keep if we also want to reap. They must also plan to reap if they want to reap! They must know how to link these stages together and how to proceed from one to another. This book provides churches with a simple tool to help them analyze how successful they are at doing this.
The author takes evangelism out of the remit of the specialist and shows how all Christians can play some part in the processes whereby people discover more about God and come to faith in Jesus. He sets this process, by which people discover what God is doing in their lives, firmly in the context of relationships with Christians. He takes evangelism away from the one-person travelling show and locates it clearly in the context of local communities.
Sowing, Reaping, Keeping was first published in1996 and has been reprinted six times before this second edition. In this edition the original work has been completely revised, updated and developed. The pages are ten percent larger and the number of pages has increased from 128 to 160. None of what has been added is padding. The additional material takes account of changes in society and church since 1996. A chapter on small groups has been added. The author is director of Cell UK and has drawn from his experience in leading cell churches to show how important the small Christian community is in equipping Christians for evangelism.
Reading the new edition, Singlehurst brought to me the freshness and vigour of the first edition and an awareness of the way that he perceives and understands the way our society is changing. I sometimes recommend people to borrow a book: this one is one to buy for yourself. I would also do what my church member did for me and buy a copy for a friend!
Reviewed by Rev Peter Pillinger, a core team member of the Fresh Expressions initiative, seconded by the Methodist Church Connexional Team. he is also involved in leading the Methodist Cell Church Network.
Headline Spring 2017 p.28.