Book Review on Evangelism for Non-Evangelists by Mark R. Teasdale

The book, Evangelism for Non-Evangelists is for use in a formal education setting, or for lay and clergy leaders in a church setting. Mark Teasdale writes with the goal of approaching evangelism authentically. This means that the author leaves room for people of differing theologies in different places in their faith journey to engage with evangelism, and to provide the reader with the tools to think through evangelism (page 4).

Mark Teasdale begins by defining evangelism as a bias for the good news (page 5). He goes on to make the point that to define evangelism as a bias means that those who accept the good news must be formed by the good news. In addition, since the good news points to the eternally good God, this formation never has an end. Even those who have long been adherents of the good news can continue to be evangelized (page 7).

In chapter 3, titled, Looking Inward to Look Outward, he goes deeper into this idea. The reader is encouraged to practice theological reflection as a form of examination in order to better share the gospel with authenticity. Chapter 3 also helps the reader stay aware and grow in respect for theological traditions different from their own. Interpretation and reconciliation are also themes addressed in chapter 3 as ways to solidify our own beliefs and then to share them with sensitivity.

Chapter 4, like chapter 3, was another helpful section in the book. It spent quite a bit of time on the topic of putting the good news in context. Mark Teasdale makes some good points in this chapter. One of them is on page 66 when he draws on the work of Mark Lau Branson and Juan F. Martinez. He explains the four part schema these two men created. The four parts of the contextual forces that shape us are the individual, the culture, the society, and the community. When addressing the individual, he says evangelism is not just about spreading the message; it is about inviting people to be transformed by the message (page 67).

When talking about culture, he says we must be aware, or at least become aware, of our own cultural assumptions. All peoples have them, but it is wrong to become chauvinistic about them, declaring other cultures to be deficient or evil because of their different cues or responses (page 69).

These thoughts, along with much more helpful information, is found in this book. For its slim size and small number of only six chapters, this book was more of an academic read than I expected. But it does offer some practical applications sprinkled throughout each chapter, either as a sidebar or at the end of the chapter. These sections are titled Learning Activity. These appear to be summaries of previous ideas that may stimulate discussion or act as a guide into a new direction for ministry.

Mark Teasdale is a thorough writer, and he mentions other resources throughout the book in his footnotes that he relied upon to develop his premise. These resources are listed below as further reading.

Further Reading on the subject of evangelism:

The Logic of Evangelism by William J. Abraham

Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes it Good by N.T. Wright

A Violent Evangelism: The Political and Religious Conquest of the Americas by Luis N. Rivera

The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity by Os Guinness

Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There by Leonard Sweet

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