Evangelism in a Spiritual Age
Steven Croft, Rob Frost et al. Church House Publishing, 2005, 162 pp, £11.99, ISBN 07151 4054X
In ‘Part One: The Research’, Yvonne Richmond first describes ten encounters which led eventually to the Diocese of Coventry research reported in Beyond the fringe. This is followed by Nick Spencer’s insightful analysis of the research.
‘Part Two: Responses’ offers four authors’ responses on how, in the light of the research findings from this project and elsewhere, the church might address the issue of evangelism in the twenty-first century.
Anne Richards’ inspired use of the three questions, ‘Where are you?’ from Genesis 3, Jesus’ enquiry to the disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and his question in the Garden, ‘Who are you looking for?’ both challenged me for my own Christian journey and gave me a useful framework for engaging with the spirituality of those around me. Mark Ireland packs into his chapter on the local church perspective a treasury of practical ideas for different sized churches. All the ideas seem to me to be eminently do-able. This is a chapter that I will re-read from time to time to note what could become appropriate in my own setting.
From his own evolving understanding of evangelism and that of others, Rob Frost provides many examples of people engaging with the prevailing culture and finding God there. In the final chapter, Steve Croft suggests that evangelism should be characterized by deep listening and respectful dialogue, by humility and confidence, an evangelism which comes from communities, is by communities and leads to new communities.
The comprehensive notes and the alphabetical index help to make this a very stimulating and useful book.
Reviewed by Margaret Parker, a counsellor, member of the Cliff College Committee and former Vice-president of the Methodist Conference
Headline, Winter 2005/6 p28