"They [pre-Christians] were asking questions I wasn't prepared to answer, and they no longer seemed interested in the questions I was prepared to answer." Does this ring true for your efforts at evangelism with postmoderns (pre-Christians)? It was common for author Rick Richardson until he began to truly understand the postmodern mind. But once he understood, God began to work in truly new and exciting ways in Rick's evangelism efforts. Rick began listening to postmoderns, and learning how they viewed various major life issues. He studied postmodern thought, and asked postmodern, pre-Christians what they were looking for in spirituality. Now he knows where postmoderns are, and what is necessary to help them experience God's love. And you can too, by reading Evangelism Outside the Box.
This book is a vivid reminder that God is looking for people to work with and through to bring the lost into His kingdom. In Richardson's words, God "wants to turn the big, ugly green station wagon (maybe an appropriate analogy for our church or ministry!) around and race to wherever these lost and hurting people can be found. But he's letting us drive." What a privilege and responsibility! But before we can do this, we must remove the boxes we have tried to constrain God in, and the boxes in which our evangelism efforts reside. We must understand the way postmoderns think about life and spirituality, we must understand their questions, and how they come to know and love God. And then we must change our ways (not our message) of reaching out to them to fit their experiences and thoughts.
To that end, Richardson shows us what some of our boxes might be, and offers practical insight into how to effectively reach out and offer a life-changing experience with God. He emphasizes awakening the souls of pre-Christians (making them realize their need for Jesus), drawing them into community, challenging them to convert, and helping them be transformed into disciples. These four practices have been used throughout Christian history to bring the lost into the kingdom, but Richardson has added a distinctly postmodern understanding to each one. The result is a practical, life-changing and ministry-changing book that will stir the embers of your evangelistic fervor into a roaring flame. And that flame will bring heat and light to a lost generation that God longs to reach.
It used to be that providing clear evidence for the resurrection of Jesus or the reliability of the Bible was a pretty effective way to reach people with the Good News. But today, many folks think all truth is relative, even our historical and scientific data about Christianity. So how can we reach them? We need new ways of telling people the old, old story. We need to look again at our usual mental habits if we want to reach people who have a brand new mindset of their own. We need to get outside the box of ideas and practices that are sacred to us but are not sacred to God. That's what Rick Richardson's book is all about. Here are fresh perspectives on relying on the Holy Spirit, awakening spiritual interest in others, appealing to what they value (instead of what we think they should value) and leading them into a transforming experience with God. Also included is Richardson's Circles of Belonging, a new, straightforward presentation of the message of Jesus (yes, it can even be sketched out on a napkin!) that is true to Scripture and true to the new way people live and think. As an experienced evangelist and leader of evangelism programs, Richardson offers in this helpful book the principles and practices that will help us all grow in love for--and communicate effectively with--people who need Jesus.
Rick Richardson believes in journeying with people who are moving toward God. No need to sell Jesus, he says. The Holy Spirit will do that. Coming alongside others, with love, is all we need to do. An ordained priest with the Anglican Mission in America, Rick runs the evangelism and leadership program at Wheaton College Graduate School and is associate national director for evangelism with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.
Many churches feel embarrassed and discouraged about their lack of evangelism,
says Richardson, national coordinator of evangelism for InterVarsity Christian
Fellowship/USA. Here, he provides a heartfelt challenge, offering an excellent
analysis of postmodern thought as the current milieu for evangelism and a brief
introduction to many useful resources for practical application. Particularly
helpful to many Christian leaders will be Richardson's explanation of the
transition from modern to postmodern thought and the ways this change has
reduced the effectiveness of "traditional" approaches to evangelism. The depth
of Richardson's analysis reflects his experience with campus ministry. While
many churches will not encounter the academic level of postmodern thought
Richardson describes, the basic patterns (for example, the move from
propositional to experiential truth) still hold true. Also remarkable is
Richardson's application of ancient patterns to contemporary situations, as
when he demonstrates the continuing usefulness of the evangelism models used by
John Wesley and Saint Patrick, or interprets Paul's "Mars Hill" sermon from
Acts 17. The book's value for study within churches will be limited by the very
critical tone Richardson uses for the established church. Also, many of his
suggestions assume a large-church context with an army of volunteer helpers.
Despite these limitations, this book offers penetrating analyses and useful
resources for a crucial area of Christian ministry. (Jan.) Copyright 2000
Cahners Business Information.
"Provides a heartfelt challenge, offering an excellent analysis of postmodern thought as the current milieu for evangelism. . . . Offers penetrating analyses and useful resources for a crucial area of Christian ministry."
"Rick Richardson's terrific book will not only increase your passion for evangelism, but it will give you wise, practical and powerful strategies for how you can share your faith more effectively. It's a wonderful resource for individuals, ministries and churches."
"Paul said he became all things to all people . . . for the sake of the gospel. Rick Richardson models that value well, and his book will stretch all of us to think in new ways to reach a new generation with the age-old message of the cross of Christ. Read to it to grow--and then to go."
"I finished reading [Evangelism Outside the Box] last weekend and found it to be by far one of the best sources of encouragement and instruction for reaching out to the lost of my generation! . . . In fact, I called up all of my friends who are involved in college and youth ministry and told them to buy and study the book ASAP. It will serve as a guide for myself and many others for years to come!"
"Those with a passion to reach the unreached often struggle over how to share Christ's timeless gospel in a timely manner. In this book Rick Richardson sails headlong into the postmodern maelstrom without letting go of the anchor of Scripture. Read this, and feed off Richardson's passion for postmoderns who desperately need Jesus!"
"Allow me to encourage you to read Rick Richardson's Evangelism Outside the Box. For those of you on campus staff, encourage your student leaders to read it as well. Rick does a superb job of helping us to consider what evangelism looks like in our emerging campus cultures. The book is clear and compelling--full of new ideas and energy."
"Evangelism is a central part of the church's mission on earth. Even though each of us is called to witness and share the gospel, it is never easy for most of us. Here is a book that offers thoughtful ways to help many of us get started. Rick addresses our culture insightfully and helps all of us find natural ways to share our faith. I hope many will read this book. I commend it most highly."
"Is witnessing for you something like hitting a handball into a sand dune? Lots of effort, little response? Have you found [that] the old answers, the proven methods just don't seem to work? Then read Evangelism Outside the Box. Rick Richardson listens to our culture with sensitive ears, asks probing questions, points to fresh approaches. I believe his book, like Paul Little's How to Give Away Your Faithand Cliffe Knechtle's Give Me an Answer will help us to connect with this seeking generation. I plan to recommend it widely."
"Affirming that winning people to Jesus Christ is '100 percent God, 100 percent us,' Rick Richardson shakes off the dust of misconceptions and assumptions about today's seekers, revealing God's handprints on our own culture--a culture full of opportunities, if we'll only see them and grasp them."
"Rick Richardson's book is disturbing on two levels: first, he refuses to let believers off the hook regarding lost persons in a lost culture. He dares to tell us to transform the culture and not condemn it. Second, he tells us old evangelism ways won't work and suggests a new apologetic--just when the old ways were becoming comfortable to me. Disturbing--disturbing--disturbing. Thank God for those who disturb me!"
"We are living at a time of cultural shift. The postmodern mindset is gradually replacing the modern worldview. How can we communicate the gospel to a culture in transition? Do we need to rethink evangelism to reach our generation? In Evangelism Outside the Box Rick Richardson tackles these questions and comes up with some challenging answers."
"This book will be very helpful to those wanting to examine different evangelism strategies for reaching the postmodern world--those not often considered by evangelicals. Richardson's approach to evangelism is historically informed, theologically aware, and he also has a unique gift for synthesizing intelligently and succinctly the thinking of others on this very crucial subject. I found it intellectually stimulating. I think you will too."
"If the contemporary church is going to reach this postmodern generation it will have to embrace new methods of evangelism. Rick Richardson's book is an extremely useful guide for this challenging task."
"Reaching this new generation requires that we learn to evangelize an increasingly secularized culture. In his book Evangelism Outside the Box, Rick Richardson leans into past movements of God for valuable lessons, and then combines them with striking insight into today's culture which flow out of his vast experience of reaching university students through his ministry with InterVarsity. The resulting conclusions could dramatically improve church leaders' efforts to reach spiritually lost people--including the many who currently don't consider the local church a viable option in their search for God."
"There are few truly new books about evangelism, but Rick Richardson has written one. Drawn from his years of work as a campus evangelist as well as his wide and careful reading, Richardson suggests powerful new ways to reach a generation that is spiritual but not religious. Richardson understands postmodern culture and how to make Jesus known in it. He charts a useful course for the church as more and more of the culture becomes postmodern in outlook. I am using this book as a text in several of my courses, including a Ph.D. seminar on evangelism (as an example of how a thoughtful practitioner approaches the ministry of evangelism)."
"Rick Richardson's new book reexplores some key biblical/theological principles of evangelism in light of dramatic changes that are occurring in our postmodern world. As a result of this thoughtful reflection, Richardson offers a set of very innovative strategies of evangelism that is deeply faithful to the Scriptures and highly relevant to today's world. It is a book I will continue to use to challenge my students and myself to go beyond the usual, traditional views and practices of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ."
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