Open Discussion: Favorite Evangelism Books

February 15, 2012 by Nathan Finn

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Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls” (NASB). I’ve been meditating a lot on this verse in recent weeks. I want to be more of a soul winner, praying that the Lord regularly works through me to help bring sinners to saving faith in Christ. I want to be more intentional about sharing the gospel, especially in the urban neighborhood where my local church gathers. I want to be an evangelistic role model to my wife, children, students, and congregation. I bet many of you share a similar burden to be more faithful in evangelism.

Professor and pastor that I am, I’ve also been reflecting quite a bit on evangelism books. I’ve just started reading Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel (IVP, 2010), written by Mack Stiles. I’m enjoying it so far. In the past four or five years, I’ve been blessed by several other helpful evangelism books by authors such as my SEBTS colleagues Alvin Reid and Wayne McDill, as well as works by Mark Dever and D.A. Carson. During my student days, I was influenced by the works of Will Metzger, Paul Little, Bill Hybels, and Will McRaney. There are many things I like about each of these books. I’d commend all of them to you.

I have to confess that there are some important or widely acclaimed evangelism books that I’ve never read. For example, I’ve only read bits and pieces of L.R. Scarborough’s With Christ After the Lost, which is a Southern Baptist classic. I’ve never read Charles Spurgeon’s The Soul Winner. Ditto with J.I. Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism, and Rebecca Manley Pippert’s Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World. Lots of my friends really like Randy Newman’s Questioning Evangelism, though I’ve not gotten around to reading it yet.

I’d love to know what evangelism books you’ve found helpful. What did you like about them? If you could recommend one evangelism book to be read by virtually any believer, which one would it be? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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13 Responses to “Open Discussion: Favorite Evangelism Books”

  1. Ben Arbour says:

    God-Centered Evangelism by R.B. Kuiper.

  2. Here are my top three for now:
    1. Alvin Reid’s “Evangelism Handbook”: Best one stop textbook for evangelism.
    2. Randy Newman’s “Questioning Evangelism”: Best one stop “little book” that helps a person learn to facilitate gospel conversation.
    3. Jerram Barr’s “The Heart of Evangelism” is not as well known as the ones mentioned above. However, it is a robustly theological and savvily missiological treatment of evangelism.

  3. Trey Fletcher says:

    A couple of Thom Rainer’s book like “Unchurched Next Door” or “The Millennials” or “Surprising Insights from the Unchurched” that provide insight about what people think about God, Christianity, and church so that we can engage them more effectively.

  4. Will Metzger’s, Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People.

  5. Nathan Finn says:

    Ben, I’ve not read Kuiper on this. Would it be fair to assume his book is in some ways similar to Packer’s?

    Bruce, someone else mentioned Barr’s book on Twitter. I’ve read on that one and like what I’ve read.

    Trey, I’ve also found Rainer’s writings helpful in this regard.

  6. [...] 15th, 2012 in Books, Links | 0 comments If you’re interested, I’ve begun an open discussion at Between the Times about favorite evangelism books. I’d love to hear your [...]

  7. Wesley Handy says:

    Dr. Finn,

    Great discussion!

    I like Newman’s “Questioning Evangelism” as well as the companion book “Corner Conversations” where each chapter is an expanded example of a conversation on with a person from a particular background. This could be helpful material for seeing how Newman’s “Questioning” could be put into practice. Newman also has a work on reaching one’s family and close friends, which I think is a needed discussion, on a practical level.

    J. D. Payne recently (last year) released a short book entitled “Evangelism”. I think this book is helpful because he writes it as a dialogue between a mentor and a disciple, thus giving a model for a discipleship relationship in this area and also a readable discussion of the important issues in the practice of evangelism. And it’s brief, meaning its more likely to be read.

    As a textbook goes, Reid’s “Handbook” is thorough and helpful. I know some folks use Metzger’s, his being one recommended by Dever in “9 Marks”, but I haven’t read Metzger to speak to it.

    On the issue it treats, I don’t think any does better than Packer in “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.” I think the book leaves the reader with a greater love of God and a greater passion for evangelism. And it’s brief!

    Your friend,

    Wes

  8. Alvin Reid says:

    After the Bible every student of evangelism should read Coleman’s Master Plan. So foundational not only for evangelism but for ministry. I actually think it is better to read authors than books on the topic, and for my money Coleman, Packer, Rainer are essential.

    This is very helpful, Nathan. I would submit that if every leader read one good book on evangelism, on prayer, and one on a great Christian in history, he would be a better leader.

  9. Tim Brister says:

    The chapter on evangelism in Total Church is one of the best I’ve read on the subject. Viewing evangelism as much than just an individual enterprise but every gift and every member commending the gospel to unbelievers in word, deed, and community.

    Dever’s The gospel and personal evangelism is concise and helpful.

  10. Jason Lee says:

    Great suggestions here!
    I want to be careful not to repeat any, but as I pastor I approach this two-fold.
    1) The books/resources that are helpful for me equipping my congregation

    2) The books/resources to help keep a “fire lit” under me to do “the work of the evangelist.”

    For the first (obviously many have been named that I would use)but a great one is just the section that Donald Whitney has on evangelism in: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. It is concise, clear, practical. In my opinion then your folks get a “must have” resource on their shelf.

    For the second use I love the classics, they are so rich. Horatius Bonar’s Words to Winners of Souls. What is even better is it is a free pdf :

    http://www.actioncambodia.org/Words-to-Winners-of-Souls.pdf

    Spurgeon’s Soul-Winner (already mentioned) can be read online also at:
    http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/soulwinr.htm

    Will Metzger’s Tell the Truth is my number one overall.

    Thanks for the post Nathan.

    Here is an encouraging quote:

    “Not called!” did you say? “Not heard the call,” I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face – whose mercy you have professed to obey – and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world. ~ William Booth

  11. Aaron Hughes says:

    I just finished reading Robert Coleman’s ‘the Master’s Plan of Evangelism’ and would commend it as essential to any believer. Randy Newman’s book is essential in that it introduces the skill of question-asking which I believe is essential for Sharon the good news in the western world.

  12. Scott H says:

    An older book that may not be as well known is Oscar Thompson’s “Concentric Circles of Concern”. I also would add the “The Purpose Driven Church” by Rick Warren, “More Than A Carpenter” by Josh McDowell (to include a book not so much about evangelism but one that is itself evangelistic), and biographies about people like Hudson Taylor, John Patton, Dwight Moody, Billy Graham and others (my favorite is “God’s Smuggler” by Brother Andrew).

  13. Matt Queen says:

    Thanks for this wonderful discussion starter, Nathan! I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Personally, I have been influenced significantly by my mentor, Dr. Reid, by reading his Introduction to Evangelism/Evangelism Handbook (http://amzn.to/zHe95J). Every seminary student should avail himself/herself to read this foundational evangelism text.
    A few other sources that I have found helpful include: Paige Patterson’s “A Theology of Evangelism,” in Chris Schofield’s The Gospel for a New Millenium (http://amzn.to/A57OYU); Mark McCloskey’s Tell it Often, Tell it Well (http://bit.ly/anSXWa); Will McRaney’s The Art of Personal Evangelism (http://amzn.to/yhuRjT); Skevington Wood’s Evangelism: Its Theology and Practice (http://amzn.to/wgLrCR); L.R. Scarborough’s With Christ After the Lost (http://bit.ly/y9xY3O); and Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism (http://amzn.to/wDh3rv).
    If I could recommend one evangelism book to be read by virtually any believer, it would be C.H. Spurgeon’s The Soul-Winner (http://amzn.to/wQDbGR).

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