witness books

Books about witnessing

This Summary Symbol accompanies most of the descriptions given below.

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This symbol lets you see at a glance the topics on which each book can help you. Each book’s major contributions will be shown by printing certain letters in bold letters. The symbol in in the shaped of a cross. The horizontal row stands for stages in life of the person you are talking to.  The vertical column stands for the parts of the salvation message.  The dashes are to keep the letters spaced properly. 

R: The R’s at the left represent a person who is not yet willing to engage in a conversation about Jesus. Bold print here means the book provides you with insights about showing care and forming friendship: the R stands for relationship building.

N:  The N’s at the right stand for nurturer. Bold print here means the book will help you with follow-up and mentoring for someone who has become a Christian. The characters down the middle all have something to do with an evangelism conversation.

E: Bold print on the top E means the book will suggest natural ways to “enter” into a conversation about Christ. The letters at the bottom stand for the options after you ask the person’s reaction to the message of Christ:

O: Bold print on the O means the book will give you ideas for meeting common “objections,” and

A:   bold print on the A means the book will assist you with someone who expresses interest or “acceptance” toward the message.

The four letters in the middle running from top to bottom each represent a major concept of the salvation message. From the book of Acts, we see that the four topics that the apostles never left out are mankind’s problem, God’s answer (Jesus), an invitation to respond (repent, believe, be baptized), and the benefits promised to believers. Thus:

S=SIN,   J=JESUS,   F=INVITATION (the F is for faith),   B=BENEFITS

A letter in bold print means the book will give you insights into the highlighted concept. To use this book list, scroll down looking at the symbols until you see one that highlights the aspect of witnessing that you want to read more about. The first book below does not have a symbol, since it provides ideas about all of these topics. The number at the end of each book description tells you the year when the website author wrote the book description.

the books:

My book Great Commission Living (copyright 1993, 1998 by Jim Found) is published by LCMS World Mission. The Table of Contents is divided into 3 parts: Pre-evangelism, Evangelism, and Post-evangelism and each part contains 10 to 20 pages of ideas.   this book therefore incorporates all the letters in the symbol.  Part three also has a section on teaching in a class room setting, and on leading a witness workshop. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see the complete table of contents and ordering information. 2006

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Me, An Evangelist, Every Christian’s Guide to Caring Evangelism, by William J. McKay.  St. Louis: Stephen Ministries, 1992.  Each chapter begins with an episode of a developing relationship between a Christian couple and their unchurched neighbor.  Plenty of chapters deal with relationship building, but there are also chapters on the content of the salvation message.  ISBN 0-9633831-0-8  The author coordinated the development of the small group ministry system known as the ChristCare series. 2006
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We Believe – Therefore We Speak, by David J. Valleskey.  Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1995.  Part One has a chapter on each important concept of the salvation message, and always concludes with a section on “how to use this concept in evangelism.”  Part Two is “the practice of evangelism in the Congregation” and includes sections on building an evangelistic mindset and on Training Workers.  ISBN 0-8100-0539-5.  The author is president of the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran seminary in Thiensville Wisconsin, and previous to that taught the evangelism course there for many years.  In 1995 his booklet God’s Great Exchange – One Way to Tell a Friend About the Savior was printed by the Commission on Evangelism of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  (No ISBN number on the pamphlet; there is an identification number, 38-2024.)  This book introduces a stick-figure diagram that can be drawn while you are explaining the gospel.  There is an accompanying VHS video with sample home visits. 2006
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Outreach Promises by Phil Bickel.  Bloomington MN: Rollercoaster Press.   This book encourages people in witness by introducing the scriptures promises telling us that our witness will not be in vain.  These promises indicate that God plans to bring people from all nations to himself.  The concepts are applied through life-situation stories. 2006

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more books:

The Defense Never Rests: A Lawyer’s Quest for the Gospel, by Craig A. Parton. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House 2003. The author tells the story of his discovery of Christianity, then of Lutheranism. He describes his thought processes in investigating Christianity as a lawyer. He stresses how important it is to speak clearly about the depths of sin and the full power of the gospel. He explains in detail how to defend Christianity using the evidence that is available. In chapter 7 he has assembled the widely accepted historical defenses for the reliability of scripture, the divinity of Christ, and the probability of the resurrection. In chapter 9 he moves from juridical apologetics to a “subjective apologetic” for those who may not be swayed by hard evidence. Here he shows how literary works, music, and church architecture are useful tools for portraying the gospel. 2008
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Why Believe? Reason and Mystery as Pointers to God, by C. Stephen Evans. Revised Edition © 1996. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company. As suggested by the word “reason” in the subtitle, the author discusses in a reasonable, low-key those questions that reasonable people are most likely to ask. He shows that God gives us reasons to believe that he exists, but does not give us so much information that faith is no longer needed. If he did, our relationship to God would not be by faith but would be something we have no choice about. He compares the kind of evidence God provides to the type of evidence that is provided in a courtroom. The word “mystery” in the subtitle includes discussion of our marvel at nature, at the existence of a “sense” of right and wrong, and at the existence of “personhood.” Would a universe without personhood be able to produce personhood? Along the way, he deals with questions such as “Is God just a psychological crutch? (page 107);” “Is Christianity sexist? (page 111);” “Is God the opiate of the people? (page 117);” “What if I have doubts?” (page 145).” Chapter 8 is devoted to “Was Jesus Really God,” and chapter nine to “The Problem of Evil.” The author is professor of philosophy at Calvin College. 2008
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The Nature of the Atonement, edited by James Beilby and Paul R. Eddy. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Since the work of Christ on the cross is the core of the gospel message, it is helpful to have this book that deepens our knowledge of that work. The four authors all accept the many ways that the Bible describes what was happening on the cross, but three of them select one of the ways as fundamental for understanding the others. It is possible to read the book and gain from all of the insights without having to pick sides. Thomas Schreiner takes the “penal substitution” idea as most fundamental — that our sin required a sacrifice so that it would be just of God to declare us not guilty. Greg Boyd tells why he believes the defeat of Satan is the most fundamental. Bruce Reichenbach takes the “healing” of our relationship to God as the most fundamental. The fourth author, Joel Green, says that none of the explanations should be regarded as most fundamental. After each author’s article, the other three authors write a response. 2008

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Irresistible Evangelism, © 2004 by Steve Sjogren, Dave Ping, and Doug Pollock. Published by Group Publishing, Loveland, Colorado. This book provides detailed ideas for forming relationships with non-Christians. The authors show that just as you would select a different golf iron depending on how far you are from the green, Christians can learn the correct tools to help people at different stages of interest in the gospel. The idea of stages is backed up by Jesus’ words in Mark 12:34 about someone being “not far” from the kingdom of God (page 66). A separate chapter is devoted to the different tools to use as your friend gradually increases in interest toward faith. These chapters (6 through 9) are titled Active Kindness, Active Friendship, Active Wondering, and Active Sharing. Here is a sampling from each of those chapters. Active Kindness means humble acts of service done without expecting anything in return. One of the authors, Steve Sjogren, recounts how he engages members of his Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati in going out into the community to freely offer services such as washing cars or mowing lawns, simply saying they would like to do this “as a practical way to show God’s love.”  Active Friendship emphasizes the importance of developing good listening skills. Actives listening skills are not taught in this book, but a training program developed in part by author Dave Ping is described at his website, www.equipmin.org. The Active Wondering chapter provides 99 questions you can choose from as your relationship becomes close enough to talk about deeper issues. Here are three of them, from page 131: “in your opinion, how does someone become a Christian?” “Do you think it’s possible to know God personally?” “Has anyone ever shown you what the Bible says about how to begin a personal relationship with God?”  The book includes encouraging anecdotes, several lists of mistakes to avoid, and findings of nationwide surveys. Although this writer would not say that talking about the “substitutionary death of Jesus is usually unnecessarily confusing,” because it does not help to “paint a very relational picture” (page 149), yet was happy to see the idea that “it’s part of our new nature” (page 77) to show perpetual love to those around us. The number of ideas presented and their practical nature make this book very useful in reaching out to our communities. 2008

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Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Church, and How to Fix It, Revised Edition © 2004 by Thom and Joani Schultz. Loveland CO: Group Publishing Co.  This bok promotes well-researched concepts of good teaching that are regularly taught in schools of education but not always used by teachers. Entire chapters are devoted to topics like writing clear goals and helping students master concepts through active, higher-order thinking and interactive learning. Many practical helps are given for learning to be good at asking questions. The use of all learning styles is encouraged, including hearing, seeing, and doing. The importance of debriefing after experiential learning is stressed, which would include reflection, interpretation, and the application to daily life. Each chapter ends with suggestions for how to teach the concepts to other teachers. The book would be profitable for volunteer teachers at all age levels including adults. More publications by Group can be found at their website www.grouppublishing.com. 2008

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Prepared to Answer and the second volume, More Prepared to Answer, by Mark A. Paustian. Both published in 2004 by Northwestern Publishing House in Milwaukee. These books use stories from the life of Christ to answer common questions about the Christian faith. Though the book will be read by Christians, the answers are presented in a way that Christians could use to give answers to a non-Christian. The questions of several different types. Some are objections to becoming a Christian that might be raised by a non Christian: examples are “Where is the evidence that God even exists” and “Isn’t religion discredited by science.”  Other questions have to do with Christian view of morality, such as “But I’m pro-choice” and “I can’t handle your out-dated view of sex.” Together, the two books provide responses to 69 different questions. All the answers point to Jesus and the gospel. The writing is very devotional and sometimes even poetic in its wonder and gratitude at the love of God. The author cites well-known writers on apologetics such as Paul Meier and Josh McDowell as backing for his arguments. The book is written by someone who does engage in conversational evangelism and answers the questions not merely theoretically but in practical ways that will speak to the needs of the person who raises the questions. 2008.

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How to Share Christ Confidently: a Guide to Comfortable and Effective Personal Witnessing, by Dr. Milton Rudnick (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009). You can order at cph.org.

This 48 page booklet fills a great need by providing a wide range of practical advice for encouraging witness and for overcoming fears.

Chapter one uses an approach called “desensitization” as a way to neutralize the common fears  of witnessing.  Chapter two deals with motivation as God’s gift to us.

Chapter three is about transformation: believing that God will keep his promises to make you increasingly Christlike and thus to become one who draws people to pay attention to your message.

Chapter four deals with clarification: how to speak credibly as we tell about what Jesus has done in our lives. This chapter also makes suggestions for transitions in conversation, using the direct approach, such as “what does Jesus mean to you?” This chapter also reviews the work of Christ in terms of what He has given to us by His death and resurrection.

Chapter five is about communication, explaining how to be an effective listener, and how to persuade the listener that our message is worth considering.  We are advised to check to see how clearly our message is being received by asking questions. A section on “hidden messages” alerts us that spoken comments may veil a deeper concern, and tell us how to discover that concern.

The final chapter shows us why we may witness with an expectation of response, based on careful listening and on God’s promises.  Love is to be our dominant attitude. Dr. Rudnick on page 43 urges us to have hope, for “hostility to Christianity is often evidence on an internal struggle against a God-given impulse to believe.“

Dr. Rudnick has been a professor and an interim president at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been a director of the Oswald Hoffmann School of Christian Outreach there, and is now actively promoting witness and outreach at his home congregation in Minnesota. Another book on evangelism by Dr. Rudnick is Speaking the gospel through the Ages: A History of Evangelism (Concordia, 1984). [this summary added in Sept 09]

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 Jesus on Trial by David Limbaugh. Washington DC:Regnery Publishing 2014.  (This review written in March 2016.) This book includes most of the apologetics topics, found in the books by Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and Craig Parton. In addition, it is useful as a follow-up book for new Christians because it includes all topics in the creed and clear explanations of justification and sanctification. The author is a lawyer, and intends to meet the questions of skeptics. The format is quotations strung together by personal commentary. Besides many Bible passages, quotes are included from a wide range of popular authors: Fulton Sheen, John Piper, Charles Spurgeon, Tim Keller, and many others. The author’s church background shows in his explanation of becoming a Christian: after learning the pros and cons, “we just either accept or reject” (p 25) and “we are individually accountable for our decision to accept or reject” (p 105). A useful aspect is two entire chapters called “paradoxes,” in which he discusses many topics that skeptics might bring up, such as “Jeus as God and men,” “The Bible as inspired yet man-written”, and “God as sovereign yet man as accountable.”

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Reimagining Evangelism, by Rick Richardson, IVP 2006. (This review was written in April 2016). This book is valuable for learning to listen and to gain trust for sharing in appropriate ways. It is consistent with many themes of this website, as the following quotes will show. You are a travel guide, not a traveling salesman. (page 66) Don’t define success as “closing the deal.” Conversations that don’t get to the gospel proclamation are still valuable.

Rick feels that many people we talk to need to have trust rebuilt because they have lost confidence in the church in some ways. We build trust by showing that we also have problems, and by being sympathetic to their experiences. He gives a list of verses that we can pray for an unbeliever according to God’s will (without violating that person’s free choice.” Without denying the need for propositional statements, he advocates using stories because they are a ”larger container for conveying truth.” He gives suggestions for talking to people who are “spiritual but not religious.” Though he had started by downplaying the urge to “close the deal, he does have suggestions later (page 137) on how to “pop the question,” with examples.

Rick makes some statements that I would not make. He condenses the Good News as God “setting everything right,” and that includes “renewing the world,” and that the gospel transforms not only individuals but even nations. I feel he could put some people under doubt when he says “you can’t convey transformation unless you’ve experienced it” and “if you have not had a transformation experience, maybe you are not a Christian.”  He emphasized the value of testimony, but calls it evangelism, while I reserve that term for talking about Jesus. He does emphasize talking about Jesus and the cross though as essential for evangelism.

At the time of publishing, Rick was teaching evangelism at Wheaton College and associated with IVP. He also wrote the book Evangelism Outside the Box.

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Authentic Christianity: How Lutheran Theology Speaks to a Postmodern World. by Gene Edward Veith Jr. and A. Trevor Sutton. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2017.  The pages on self-justification as symptom of the sinful nature (pages 81 to 88) were revealing and useful for witnessing conversations, for example that people “crave approval..when they fail to measure up…they tend to construct explanations, excuses, and rationalizations…” (page 82.) The authors introduce  Johann Georg Hamann, a friend of Immanuel Kant who stood up against him for God’s revelation of spiritual truth, and also the limits of reason and of language that presages and counters postmodern views, so this section is very useful for apologetics. (review written 2017).

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The Reason I Believe: The Basics of Christian Apologetics. By Allen Quist. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2017. The author shows how each time the apostles shared the salvation message in the Book of Acts, they included evidence for their message. The 4 types of evidence that recurs are: eyewitness testimony, fulfillment of prophecy, appearance of miracles, and the resurrection of Jesus. A chapter is devoted to each of these 4. Then a chapter on the existence of evil shows that we could not have been free agents without the potential of disobedience. There is a chapter on Darwinism, which consists of citing two cases where the time duration of processes was over-estimated by researchers, and then the prospect that humans might have lived at the same time as dinosaurs. The final chapter, on Natural Law, cites the research of Kohlberg to undergird Paul’s statement that “the law is written on our hearts.” (summary written Dec. 2017)

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Tactics, by Greg Koukl, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2009) provides practical ways to converse about objections to Christianity without being hostile or threatening. It shows how to discover a person’s views through questioning and how to help that person see any inconsistencies or unwanted consequences of that view. The buren of proof is not on you but on the sperson making the claim. This summary written 1/19/18.

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GREAT COMMISSION LIVING—A Personal Handbook by Jim Found

This book presents in its totality the approach used on this website. See ordering info at bottom. Here is the table of contents:

INTRODUCTION

What is Meant by the Title? ………1

What is Evangelism?………. 2

Three Stages of Discipling. …………3

PRE-EVANGELISM

Aspects of Pre-evangelism.  …………..5            “~

Building Relationships………… 6

Displaying Jesus in Your Lifestyle……………8

Testimony……….9

Biblical Worldview……..l0

Starting from the Old Testament ……….. 13

EVANGELISM

Aspects of Evangelism……. 15

Witnessing Examples in the Book of Acts……….17

Some Common Mistakes ……….19

Transitions and Openings. ………..21

Methods for Witnessing in a Single Sitting ………23

Methods for Witnessing in a Series of Meetings………24

Using Diagrams and Objects to Share the Gospel………..25

Avoiding Jargon …….26

Consciousness of Sin ……..28

What Does the Bible Say about Who Jesus Is?  ……29

Explaining the Work of Christ ……….30

Explaining Faith ………..32

Answering Questions ………….33

About Apologetics………35

Some Short Answers to Common Objections…………36

Dealing with Excuses  ……. 38

POST-EVANGELISM

Aspects of Post-evangelism …………… 40

Identifying Conversion ……………41

Meeting for Nurture…………….42

Follow-up: The First Day. ……….43

Follow-up: The First Month ………..44

Pre-Baptismal Instruction……….45

A Plan for Ongoing Nurture………..46

Receiving from God ….;…..47

Areas of Response ………….48

Ongoing Nurture………….49

How to Lead a Small Group Bible study ……..50              

From God’s Will to Christian Growth…………………52

The Circle of Application……………54

 LEADING FORMAL CLASSES

Teaching and the Holy Spirit…………55

Nurture in a Formal Class Setting  ………  56

Lesson Planning  ………59

Teaching Activities  ………60

Examples of Lesson Preparation  ……61

TRAINING OTHERS

Personal Strategy  ………63

Using this Handbook to present a Witness Workshop …65

Discussion Starter: Sharing Feelings about Witnessing ….68

Discussion Starter: Powerful Words…………69

GETTING THIS BOOK:
You may contact the author by email and ask for any of these pages to be mailed to you.

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