Thursday, August 4, 2011

[Book Review] "Speaking of Jesus: the Art of Not-evangelism" by Carl Medearis

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="107" caption="Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism from"]Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism[/caption]

Carl Medearis doesn't want you to evangelize. In fact, he doesn't even want you to call yourself a Christian. Provocative? Possibly, but in his latest book, Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism, Medearis is issuing a call to Western American Christians to throw out what we know as evangelism and look to Jesus instead. In his talks, he has asked for people to tell him what the Gospel is, and more often than not, Jesus is left out of the answer. It seems that Christians believe that the Gospel is everything but or that Jesus is implicit. That being said, I think this gem of a book will be largely overlooked by the Christian populace, and if it is picked up, it will be heavily criticized.

Medearis writes with a wit and in a style that makes it hard to put the book down. In this book, he tackles such topics as our view of Jesus, the labels we wear such as Christian, Missionary, and Evangelical, and our attitudes toward others such as homosexuals, liberals, and Muslims. For years, I've pointed out that our attitudes toward Muslims should be better, while having the attitude toward homosexuals and liberals that he points out in the book. Medearis pointed my hypocrisy in that.

Basically, we should be teaching and preaching Jesus as our primary focal point. We tend to speak doctrine to people in evangelism rather than Jesus. I was talking to a Muslim in Mali, West Africa a few years ago and they had asked a Christian evangelizing them about Jesus being the Son of God. The Christian told them they couldn't understand it unless they had the Holy Spirit. Talk about a non-answer! I was sort of floored by the answer the Christian had given, while partly true, but they dodged the question also. I walked the Muslim through John 1 and they understood and were appreciative of someone taking the time to explain it to them in a way nobody ever had. My finding during that trip was that Muslims want to hear about Jesus. He is one of their prophets, after all.

What about homosexuals? Medearis interacts with them all the time in downtown Colorado Springs. They hate Christianity because it's against everything. Granted, there are some related political issues that we should probably oppose, but our attitudes toward the homosexual community are all wrong. We don't interact with them. We simply oppose them. Jesus, on the other hand, they would like. Medearis in no way endorses homosexuality, but he does endorse interacting with homosexuals and speaking of Jesus with them.

In conclusion, this book will change the way you do evangelism. At least it should. Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not converts. Too often, we want to play the numbers game. We talk with someone, sharing whatever evangelism method we've been trained in, get a prayer said, get a card signed, maybe get a baptism, and send them on their way with their new life in Christ.  Medearis has voiced what has been going through my head for several years now. This is an important message to be heard. We have got to throw off Christianity and put on Jesus instead. Whenever someone asks me about religion or speaks of hating religion, I respond that I hate religion as well, often mentioning Christianity in there. Christianity as a religion has a lot of baggage. Jesus doesn't have baggage.  Just to note that this is in no way related to anything the "Red-letter" or "Jesus-only" movement is doing. They will deny a lot of Paul wrote in favor of only what Jesus wrote and said. I do not endorse that approach and I don't believe that Medearis does either. That being said, pick up this book and read it, highlight it, and put into practice the speaking of Jesus.

This book was provided free through Mission Frontiers.