Theology and Apologetics Roundtable: Book Review: Share Jesus Without Fear

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Review: Share Jesus Without Fear

The author makes very clear that the purpose of this book is to equip believers with the resources of “sharing Jesus without fear” which supports the theme because many Christians do struggle with sharing their faith, whether fear of rejection or feeling of inadequacy. I’m not a big supporter of his structured system of evangelism but I do find it practical. I don’t believe there is one simple method of evangelism that wins more souls over other evangelistic approaches. Like many teachers of evangelism, I find Fay to be very biased about his method but I do commend his assertion that success in evangelism is not through how many conversions we lead but the simple act of planting that Gospel seed and allowing God to take care of the rest. 

Fay states that only 5 to 10 percent of the people in an average church have shared their faith in the past year. The 90 percent or more left in these churches are choosing the sin of silence.[1] I disagree with these statistics and challenge the author as to how he produced these numbers. I also challenge the assumption he makes that Christians are choosing to be silent. Could there not be a possibility that these 90 percent are not equipped with the biblical resources to share their faith? Or maybe these churches are waiting for him to come give a seminar. I find the Sin of Silent a pretty bold and irresponsible statement. Another statement Fay makes is that it takes people an average of 7.6 times of hearing the gospel presentation before making a decision for Christ. I am quite curious as to how he came up with these numbers. I know for my life personally, that was not the case.
Fay lists six common excuses Christians make for why they don’t share their faith: 
  • “I’m afraid of being rejected” 
  • “I’m afraid of what my friends will think” 
  • “I don’t think I can share with my co-workers” 
  • “I don’t know enough”
  • “I’m afraid of losing my friends and relatives” 
  • “I don’t know how” [2]
Fay provides five questions to ask a person when doing evangelism:
  • Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?
  • To you, who is Jesus Christ?
  • Do you think there is a heaven and hell?
  • If you died, where would you go?
  • If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know? [3]
I think these are valid questions to ask and they provide engagement for a good conversation. I’m not sure if I support Fay’s "Hmmmm" principle. It seems a little comical to use this colloquial expression throughout the listening portion of the conversation and may cause a lost person to think that you come off rather fake or disinterested, but I do support the idea of being engaged and attentive to what the person is saying. 

The chapter does provide Scripture references to have the person read out loud to themselves. If that person doesn’t understand it, then they are asked to read it again. I like the idea of letting a person read the text for themselves and coming to their own conclusion as to what the Scripture is saying to them. I would also add that if one is dealing with a person who is illiterate or with learning disabilities, then there is some help that must come from the person evangelizing. Fay doesn’t really cover these types of variables. 

I take the story of Todd, the demon possessed guy, with a grain of salt.[4] I wrestle with the fact that this guy was claimed be demonic but at the same time coherent and responsive to the Gospel. Most cases of demon possessions that I have learned of, the person being possessed is not plugged into the reality around them. I’m not saying that situations like that can’t happen and I definitely won’t limit the power of God in that moment.

In conclusion, I find the book to be an easy read for any Christian. The author comes off a bit biased with his structured system and it’s almost a salesman type approach that I don’t think every reader is willing to adapt. The main theme of the text is to take the fear out of evangelism and look at it not as an option but as a command as Jesus gave to us in the Great Commission. Fay makes very clear that evangelism success is found in the active “go” and give the Gospel. Success is not found in how many people you win to Christ. We don’t do the saving, God does. One thing I learn from this book is that a lot of prayer must be joined with evangelism. We must trust the Holy Spirit to give us the boldness to share as well as allow the Spirit to work on the hearts of lost people.

I am not negative towards Fay at all, given the amazing testimony of his conversion and how he is zealous about sharing his faith to probably millions of people. I find this book to be a great help for me and an addition to my personal library along with the audio CD.

[1] William Fay, Sharing Jesus Without Fear (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 6.
[2] Ibid., 15.
[3] Ibid., 33.
[4] Ibid., 53.