Jeffrey A. Johnson’s latest book, Got Style: Personality Based Evangelism, couldn’t have come along at a better time. Some weeks ago, at a “Jubilee Ministries” meeting at my church, a number of us began discussing the issue of evangelism, and what we can do to attract those people who may be “spiritual” but unchurched. How do we get out the word that our church ought to be a place that seeking people need to take a look at?
As you know, I’ve expressed some reservations about evangelism in general, in the past. I mostly think of those people who camp on your doorstep and otherwise corner you and then tell you all about how Jesus died to save you, and if you don’t listen up you’ll surely go to hell.
I find such practices highly ineffectual at best, and downright invasive at worst. However, as we came to conclude in our new group, “Infectious Faith,” there are people out there who very much would be a part of a believing community, if they only knew. If they only knew that some of their worst fears about church are not present, and more importantly, if they understood that they could live out their desire for serving their community through church based ministries.
So, it was with that inevitably serendipity that I received an e-mail from Kim Shimer, Marketing Director at Judson Press, asking me if I would like to participate in the “virtual book tour” of Johnson’s new book. I read the book eagerly, wondering if it would convince me that evangelism was something I could promote.
And indeed I can recommend this book. Mr. Johnson has all the credentials necessary to speak on this subject. Long experience and education in the field have led him to some, at least for me, really new ideas on how to attract new people to the joy of faith.
Jeff Johnson is quite humble in stating that he has discovered nothing new, but has really added to work of others in the area. But indeed, his contribution is exceptional here. Instead of the usual “methodology” for approaching and engaging non-believers, leading to the same sorry statistics for success, Johnson brings a whole new idea forth.
The idea, is that we are all different personality types, and we are best in using our strengths as individuals when attempting to promote our faith to the world. We are called to evangelism clearly in the bible, yet most of us feel fairly uncomfortable in discussing our faith and certainly in trying to get others to join us in our churches.
Johnson shows us that we are naturally inclined to two basic types: word type evangelism and action type. The word types subdivide into assertive, storytelling, and analytical and the action types subdivide into relational, invitational, and incarnational. A handy test is available in the book so you can determine which type you are.
A church can use such information broadly speaking to determine the general strengths and weaknesses of its congregation, and then to help education and train people to use those methods that are most conducive to their personalities, and thus will prove most authentic and realistic to those who are approached.
Johnson’s work is backed up by reference throughout with biblical reference to those persons, apostles and disciples, and others who use these various types in their own work in history. Johnson is pastor of the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Hurricane, West Virginia, but by no means should anyone get the idea that this evangelistic system is limited to any particular type of Christian group. In fact, it can be used in any congregation, whether it be one that considers itself liberal or conservative.
Each style of evangelism is presented, defined, and explained in terms of weaknesses and strengths. Examples in the bible are given for each. Any church, or individual can use this information to determine what types are most common to themselves, and how best to use that to their advantage in engaging those whom they identify as potential new members.
Quite frankly, it is hard to avoid the claim that evangelism is merely a means to an end to enlarge the coffers and increase the “numbers” power of any particular congregation. And no doubt, the naysayers will focus on this. But in reality, all churches are called to spread the “good news.” While arguably it can be asserted that all people are pretty much aware of Christianity, it is palpably clear that many have very odd and often wrong ideas about and proper evangelism can do much to correct these misunderstandings.
And no one would deny that most churches are engaged in very important ministries to help the less fortunate in our communities. New members are essential both to fund and to people the groups who work tirelessly to alleviate some of our most pressing social ills. Evangelism serves to improve and increase these ministries and there can be no doubt that this is both good and useful.
While I am no expert here, I found this book fascinating and one that I intend to bring to the attention to my group and my pastors. I think it worth a good look by all those who must allot a shrinking budget to growing social problems. Make this a topic of conversation at your next church meeting and consider this book as model for how to engage the issue. It is well worth the read.
***This is just a reminder that the book reviewed above was provided free of cost by the publisher. This blog was also listed and linked on the publisher’s site regarding this book, as participating in this book promotion. No discussion occurred whatsoever as to the content of this review. It remains my personal opinion.