Sunday, July 28, 2013

Coffee Shop Converstations: A Review

DISCLAIMER: At my age I have been through numerous seminars, studies, books and conferences, not to mention hand-to-hand combat in the area of personal evangelism. Evangelism ExplosionLifestyle Evangelism, The Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Summer Evangelism and Missions Project, and personal evangelism classes at college and in grad school.  I have been cheered, berated, graded, guilt-driven and probably even paid to carry forth the work of every card-carrying-evangelical, the work of winning others to Christ. Truth be known; I think I have lost more encounters than I have won.

So, when I was asked to read yet another book on sharing your faith I would be less than honest to say I would learn anything new.

Well, SHUT MY MOUTH! I can enthusiastically say that the little book (219 pages), Coffee Shop Conversations, gave me much to ponder and seek to put into practice. Dale and Jonalyn Fincher has written an openly honest book about the need for personal evangelism but not at the cost of personal relationships. No knocking on doors, no street corner ramblings, just the idea that there are some simple skills we can put into practice which will help to keep the door open for us to share about the powerful reality of a redeemed life. Those are not their words, but mine.

The sub-title of the book describes the power of this book, "Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk." Their method is not a go and seek platform as it is developing some simple skills of listening, learning and asking perceptive questions. The key to their method is caring enough to listen to another person, seeking to understand their world-view (which may mean some "home-work" done prior).

I appreciated how their personal style of writing, making sure you knew who was making the comment, though at times the convention of putting their names in parenthesis got a little burdensome. Their challenge that in seeking to understand another person's belief system can help us to understand the uniqueness of our own, was a good reminder that personal encounters can teach all participants if we are willing to learn. (p. 136) They rightly remind the reader that repentance is a response not a prerequisite for forgiveness. (p. 62) A reminder I needed to hear as it relates to my own life as well.

The book reads easy enough as a mixture of practical ideas, like the importance of developing good manners, seven of them if memory serves me correctly, and the telling of their own personal encounters, not all ending in a BIG SAVE, but rather keeping the door open for further growth in those of both sides of the conversation.

I have acquired lots of evangelism books on my shelves after over 35 years of ministry, and Coffee Shop Conversations will take a spot reserved for well-used and "go-to" books.  Actually, hopefully, not breaking any copyright laws here, but I am thinking about using this book as a "text book" for a personal evangelism class this fall at our church.

Dale and Jonalyn not only write on evangelism, but on other topics pertaining to spiritual growth. You can check them out at their website: soulation. You can check Jonalyn in action at a Biola University chapel.

So, to Dale and Jonalyn, thank you for sharing from your heart, and may our hearts always be stirred to love others because we have first been loved by God.

Jonalyn's Blog: Ruby Slippers
Dale's Blog: Free At Last

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