Book Review: Thom Rainer’s Sharing the Gospel with Ease: How the Love of Christ Can Flow Naturally from Your Life.
Perhaps that title seems a bit odd to you. Sharing the gospel with ease? Really?
For most, sharing the gospel is not done with ease but with difficulty. It’s done while battling sweaty palms, stomach cramps, and brain fog.
Ever been there?
But, what if things could change?
What if you could learn to share the gospel with ease?
Rainer begins his book by reminding readers that the gospel is not simply a message to be shared like any other but rather, it is the most important message in all of history. Yet despite the gospel being Good News for all the world, local churches still struggle to share it.
“If you consider that most North American churches have only about half their total membership in attendance on any given Sunday, we can deduce that only one person per year will become a Christian for every thirty-eight members in a congregation.”
That’s not a lot and quite frankly, it showcases why every mainly denomination in America is in decline. And while this doesn’t put a smile on the face of church leaders across the US, it certainly does for our common spiritual enemy.
“If we don’t share the gospel, if we come up with convenient excuses not to evangelize, we’re simply giving Satan his way. Satan wants us to keep quiet. He is very comfortable with silent, self-absorbed churches.”
Rainer argues that for local churches to be effective in sharing the gospel with those who are far from God, it will take more than pastors becoming more vocal about their faith; it will take every follower of Jesus. Indeed, it is the responsibility of every follower of Jesus to both show and share the Good News.
“God put this book in your hands for a reason. He wants it to remind you that you are responsible for conveying the most important message he has for the world. You are responsible for telling people the Good News of Jesus Christ. You are responsible for seeking God’s power and strength through prayer.”
Rainer then offers numerous reasons why many Christ followers do not share their faith:
- We are in a daily spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-20)
- We are “out of shape” in terms of our own gospel fluency (pg. 27)
- Lack of belief that Jesus is really the only way of salvation (pg. 32)
- Believing that evangelism is the responsibility of religious professionals (pg. 36)
- Busyness (pg. 38)
- Hesitancy over how others will receive the message (pg. 39)
- Uncertainty of what to say exactly (pg. 40)
Moving past these excuses is aided by a recapturing of the gospel story itself and chapter three gives a synopsis of the gospel’s message through four major movements in history: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.
Chapter 4, titled, “Praying . . . And Praying Some More,” is by far one of the most passionate chapters of the book. Rainer even confesses that he wrestled to begin the book with this chapter:
“I thought of starting the book with a chapter on prayer, but also thought it was important to deal up front with the importance of evangelism, the reasons for our uneasiness, and the essence of the gospel message. . . But please don’t see the placement of this chapter as in any way minimizing the importance of prayer in evangelism. In fact, prayer may be the missing ingredient in evangelism for most Christians and in most churches.
By “missing ingredient” Rainer is suggesting that evangelism done apart from prayer is lacking in both power and purpose. It lacks power in the sense that it’s done without reliance on the Holy Spirit and it lacks purpose in the sense that it’s done without specificity and focus.
Prayer-less evangelism says,
I can do this on my own.
I’m apathic toward evangelism and don’t really want to share my faith with others.
Prayer-ful evangelism says,
Lord, I can’t do this without you.
Help me see the opportunities all around me and make the most of every interaction.
In terms of “what we should say” while sharing the gospel, Rainer suggests that people rely heavily on their personal stories remembering however, that the content of your personal story should contain the truth of the gospel. In other words, “When you tell others what Christ has done for you, you are sharing the gospel through your own testimony.”
Rainer does not advocate for a singular method of sharing one’s faith suggesting that there are many great methods from which to choose. He does however, urge his readers to avoid one thing: silence.
“But when it comes to sharing the gospel, silence is not an option. We must speak up. It is a sin to be silent when God has commanded us to speak.”
In my opinion, chapter 6 is one of the most practical chapters of the book. In it, Rainer lists no less than eight objections to the Bible, belief in God, the nature of sin, and justification by faith. It is clear that these “pesky objections” were not chosen at random but are a collection of common objections many people have.
“If you share the gospel enough times, you will begin to see patterns. You will hear conversations you’ve heard before. You will grow in confidence and be better prepared to deal with objections. In fact, you’ll hear some of the same objections over and over again.”
Fo those looking to address some of the biggest barriers to sharing one’s faith, Rainer’s organization Church Answers has consistently identified, “busyness, apathy, and lack of discipline” as the biggest.
In terms of busyness, Rainer states, “Here is the simple reality. If we don’t have time to share the gospel with people, it’s because we don’t make time to share the gospel. And if we don’t make time to share the gospel, it means we don’t think sharing the gospel is all that important.”
Closely related to busyness is that of apathy. Rainer writes, “Apathy, though, describes motive and intent. It means you could do something, but you choose not to because it isn’t important enough to you…If we’re ‘too busy’ for evangelism, it almost sounds acceptable. But if we just aren’t motivated to share the gospel, we’re clearly guilty of apathy.”
Speaking to lack of discipline, Rainer states, “Habits develop when we practice a discipline with commitment and regularity. The habit of evangelism grows from first making a commitment and then asking God to open doors for sharing the gospel.”
The book concludes with a chapter devoted to next steps after a person professing faith in Jesus Christ. Walking alongside a new believer in Jesus and showing them what it looks like in real life is a critical yet often neglected step. Discipling new believers to practice the spiritual disciplines, engage in a local church, and join Christ on mission helps them to, in turn, learn to share the gospel with ease.
To learn more about Thom Rainer go to https://churchanswers.com or consider getting his book here.