The last time I read an evangelism book, I thought it would be the last time I read an evangelism book. But last week, I received an advanced copy of Doug Pagitt’s new book, Evangelism in the Inventive Age, so, I read. Though my passion for the E-word has waned in recent years, I must say, I sense a re-dedication. This book will help many of us who, for years, have negatively responded to that big E-word. In Evangelism in the Inventive Age, Doug Pagitt writes an exploration of evangelism that invites us to be creatively active as we engage with each other, especially around issues of faith.
From all of Doug’s illustrations and explorations, I most appreciate his reading of Jesus. Pagitt shows that when Jesus is the model, evangelism is more interesting and challenging than the flyer passing and tract reading that typically comes to mind. With Jesus as the example, evangelism becomes something we CAN and, possibly, already do (as long as we are not relying on pamphlets). Evangelism must not be reduced to a series of bible verses. Genuine evangelism is deeper than four special laws. Evangelism is personal because our faith is personal.
And, Jesus is personal. The Son of God who is “The Word made flesh” is personal and particular. Jesus offered particular answers to the particular people he interacted with and, as Doug writes, “Jesus practiced a first-name faith, a particular faith that was directed specifically at whomever he was talking to a the moment. The Jesus we find in the Gospels never gives the same answer twice.”
Never the same answer twice… Doug is right, and our individual experiences with God’s reinforce that observation. We do not believe in a generic God who can be reduced to a couple pages of cheaply printed and creatively folded paper, so why should we waste time and resources trying to peddle God that way?
The answer, of course, is we shouldn’t. We can’t.
What we can do is take a fresh look at Jesus, our faith, scripture, life and especially evangelism. That is what Doug offers. It is not a book of solutions and answers, rather Evangelism in the Inventive Age is a primer or guidebook for our journey as we prepare to share our lives, and especially share our faith, with each other. So, take some time, if you are down on the e-word, and I think you might be encouraged, refreshed and possibly, re-dedicated.
Edit: I should have included links for purchasing the book. Here you go.
Christopher R. Aho
February 3, 2012
@craho ~ fb.com/craho ~ craho.com