Are you fearful of sharing your faith? Does striking up conversations regarding faith cause your palms to sweat and your head to spin? Do you find it hard to know when and where to bring up your relationship with Jesus in conversation or how to even try to transition? Or do you maybe wonder why it seems people are not open to the gospel message as much as it seems people used to be? If you answer yes to any of those questions, you are not alone. Many Christians would be right there with you, including myself, even as a youth pastor. The Unbelievable Gospel is the book for you.
Having never heard of Jonathan Dodson before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the insight and wisdom shared within this book is helpful as well as challenging for the individual seeking to learn how to truly engage the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jonathan, the founding pastor of City Life Church in Austin, TX, blends in personal stories to help people learn from what he himself has experienced.
One of the main themes woven throughout this book is that we as Christians need to have a way to share what we believe that helps other people see that it is in fact worth believing themselves. A point Jonathan argues is that many people do not see the gospel as something worth believing and thus when Christians try to share the gospel with them, they are not interested. This can be due to many various things going on in their lives but in many situations, it comes down to Christians not presenting the gospel in an attractive or believable fashion. Thus, Mr. Dodson wrote The Unbelievable Gospel to “show us how to communicate and embody a gospel that is believable, personal, and culturally engaging” (Back cover). How does he do this?
The book is divided into 3 sections: Defeaters, Re-evangelization, and metaphors. Defeaters is all about the things that pull at us and keep us from sharing the gospel. Re-Evangelization helps the reader recover the Gospel and “remind us of the need to continually communicate the eternal gospel in new ways to various cultures and people” (p. 100). Lastly, metaphors is the practical part of the book “filled with examples of how to share a believable gospel” (p. 142). Metaphors is where Jonathan simply started sharing story after story in hope of “stimulating our missional imagination” to help us see it is not difficult to share the gospel in a believable way, it just takes us being willing to listen to culture and the people around us to find ways into their lives. Mostly gone are the days where we simply just asked people to come to church or an evangelistic meeting with us; today, people want to hear and see the gospel lived out before their eyes. When people see authentic faith lived before them, it gives us more of a voice with them but we also have to be mindful of the people we are sharing with and be listening for ways to engage people in a way that is personal. We cannot simply use gospel presentations anymore.
Let me share a couple quotes with you:
“Surprisingly, it isn’t all that hard for someone to mistake clear gospel preaching with moral, religious teaching…This is why gospel preaching and teaching, as good as they are, are not enough. We need everyday evangelists, people who are willing to rub shoulders with those outside the church, hang out at their parties, take them to lunch, and ask enough loving questions to surface true beliefs. It takes time, conversations, and patience for people to get grace, to get it down into their hearts.” (p. 62)
“We desperately need to set apart Jesus as Lord in our hearts, not what others think as Lord. This is where deep security is found.” (p. 95)
“People need to know why Jesus is worthy of their faith.” (p. 143)
“An evangelizing church is a praying church. The church that evangelizes has to pray because it knows evangelism is ineffective apart from the powerful work of the Spirit, who responds both to our prayers and to God’s will.” (p. 203)
Are you looking for some renewed energy and motivation for sharing your faith? Has your approach to share the gospel kind of gotten stale? The Unbelievable Gospel will give you energy and ideas for how to share with people what we as Christians believe is the most important aspect of our lives. I am going to be looking for ways to use this book with my church youth group. I would also love to see a church curriculum come out of this book as I believe it would personally help the people in the church where I currently serve. The gospel is life changing and life giving and as followers of Christ, it is our mission to be sharing it with people we come in contact with. This book will help encourage you to engage the world.
In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of by Zondervan in exchange for this review.