So You Can't Stand Evangelism? A Thinking Person's Guide to Church Growth

So You Can't Stand Evangelism? A Thinking Person's Guide to Church Growth; Boston: Cowley Publications, 1994. 156 1010 960; Reviewed for Congregations by Betsy Humphreys, Waldensian Presbyterian Church, Valdese, North Carolina.

The frontal attack of this book's title indicates what's inside—a radical approach to evangelism. James Adams begins with the premise that some of us are born believers, while others are born sceptics. To interest these doubters and questioners, he gives a non-traditional definition of evangelism, i.e., "church members letting outsiders in on what they have found of value in Christianity." Adams says that behaviour, i.e., an "attitude of spiritual generosity," not belief, should mark our churches' evangelical mission. Adams makes his case in several ways. He uses anecdotal examples of the church in history, from Paul to nineteenth century abolitionists, to show how it has adapted its message to the times. Second, he emphasizes ways to involve the current congregation before starting an evangelism program. Third, education classes and sermons must address the major religious concerns of sceptics so that they do not feel they must abandon their intellectual integrity by entering into the life of the church. Adams recognizes the difficulty of this mission but is confident that those who participate will be part of a community of faith that shares a "feast of rich food." This book is provocative. Even those who disagree with its basic premise can find many valuable suggestions for welcoming newcomers to their congregations.