Mack Stiles is a good writer, a biblical thinker and a loving shepherd with a heart for the lost. All of these characteristics merge in Evangelism as he serves his reader, and more particularly the church, with a biblical perspective on how the whole church speaks about Jesus. That last phrase, ‘how the whole church speaks about Jesus’, is the sub-title that provides both an incredibly brief but helpful and memorable definition of each of the 9Marks books in this series on building healthy churches.
There is no shortage of books about evangelism, offering countless strategies and providing creative and memorable tools. Stiles contribution is a little different. His aim is for working toward a culture of evangelism, or as he defines evangelism, “teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.” (26) The beauty of this work is the way it impacts not only a group of evangelists in the church or those with ‘the gift of evangelism’, but how it becomes part of life in a church that obeys the word of God.
This brief definition of evangelism provides the foundation for everything Stiles develops. Evangelism is teaching “clearly what the gospel is and what is required of a person to turn to Christ.” (27) The gospel must be taught, which means the church, who should know the gospel, must teach the gospel. Simply, evangelism is teaching. We must be teachers of what God’s word has revealed as the means of salvation. This alone is the good news. Stiles cautions against the danger of making the gospel too small, or bloating the gospel. (32) What we teach must be the pure gospel.
A biblical culture of evangelism is cultivated when the pure gospel is readily taught by the church, and not limited to only revivals and programs. Stiles knows this is what church leaders also want, stating, “they long for their churches to be loving communities committed to sharing the gospel as a part of an ongoing way of life, not by the occasional evangelistic raid event.” (47) He then proceeds to present what he defines as his “top ten yearning for a culture of evangelism”. (48)
I would commend Evangelism to anyone wanting to understand what sharing faith biblically means and to those wanting to begin the process of introducing such a culture to their church. There is a freedom offered in the work, and a good example of an evangelistic culture weaving its way into all areas of life, like any other culture. Biblical evangelism need not be peculiar and disjoined from everyday life. In fact, the gospel is the culture of the Christian, and we ought to prepare to share our heritage of faith with others who may be foreign to the truths that we have come to know. We ought to joyfully anticipate teaching others about the hope found in Christ alone. Stiles helps us nurture and navigate this culture in Evangelism.