How do you evangelize a world that is not interested in hearing about Jesus? Nick Pollard, the author of, Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult, tries to answer that question. The book examines new insights for evangelizing the lost. Pollard brings several interesting facts to light that we will look at to observe how they can help evangelistic efforts.
One of the most interesting facts comes in the very first pages of the book. Pollard states people you meet tend to come in four categories. Three of these categories are: people that are ready to become Christians, those that want to be Christians but have some doubts, and those that are interested but are not sure where to begin because they do not know much about Jesus. The fourth group is the largest group and they are those that are simply not interested (14).
After that statement, one could get discouraged, but Pollard takes the steps to show how this large group can be reached. One important fact was to understand people have different worldviews. What is a worldview? “Since everything anyone does has a reason behind it, it is evident that we live by propositions. A system of the propositions underlying a person’s actions and beliefs comprises a person’s philosophy of life or worldview. Such a system is unavoidable because humanity strives for meaning” (McDowell, 2). This is an important step in understanding how to reach others. If one does not understand what a person believes and what governs their decisions, it will be almost impossible to bring fact or truth to their beliefs. Pollard did not examine all worldviews, but he touched on two types. These were the bottom-up worldview model and the top-down worldview model. The bottom-up model is, “people take the answers they find for these fundamental questions and combine them to form their worldview” (33). The top-down model is, “people will give particular answers to the fundamental questions because they hold a certain worldview, rather than holding that worldview because they have given particular answers to the fundamental questions” (34).
I have found having an understanding about worldviews helpful in my dealing with others as well. When people have stated, “Christianity is fine for you but not for me”, I am aware this is a relativism worldview. If I did not understand the view they were using, I could have found myself going in circles to bring clarity to the situation and only probably defeating my efforts. In teaching teens, I find myself having to give an answer to correct these views. I had a student say they should be able to believe what they want as true and that there was no way something could be true for everyone. I realized this child had a view that there are no absolute truths. I asked the student, “What color is the sky?” “It is blue most times”, is how the student answered. I said, “but I do not want it to be blue. I do not like blue. Blue is not a good color for me, so I choose the color of the sky to be purple”. All the students laughed at me. It began a dialog about why that was not possible. It brought everyone back to this truth, there are things that are true for everybody and I was able to share that God’s truth was one of those things.
Another point made is that non-believers as well as believers need to have their worldview’s examined. There are believers that have wrong views that have hindered their understanding of biblical things. These views have made it more difficult for the believer to help those not interested in hearing about Jesus.
Pollard uses a term, “Positive Deconstruction” which means, “helping people who are currently comfortable with their non-Christian beliefs to think again about them – and possibly to become uncomfortable with them, so much so that they begin to want to find out about Jesus” (15). People need to be taken through steps to examine what they believe alongside the truth of the Bible, before they are able to take the next step of accepting the Gospel message.
Another point that Pollard formulates is about the attitude of the one giving the message. He states, “‘make the most of every opportunity.’ It is important to note that we are not told to ‘make the opportunity’” (20). This was very encouraging information. The message normally given to the believer is, “you go and get them”. The believer supposes it is there responsibility to go out and beat the bushes and the by-ways to bring in the lost. This can be very discouraging when one comes back empty handed. Instead, Pollard informs the reader that God is the one that makes the opportunity, but the believer must be ready to take it.
Pollard states, “I was motivated more by a desire not to feel like a failure than by a real concern to help people” (21). I found this statement in line with statements made in the book, Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions. The author, Gailyn Van Rheenen, also states the mission is God created and the body of Christ is to carry out the mission. He also states “Almost all Christian missionaries and ministers have defective motives that do not reflect the heart of God. These motives are intermingled with secondary and primary motives” (43). This is vital information for believers. Believers should stop and look at the reasons why they want to give the message of salvation to others. If one’s motives are not in line with God, then this is the time to seek God to be given his heart for the mission.
Pollard also tells the reader, one must understand the gospel story in order to share it with another. He suggests one first prepare it within their mind so when asked, they are ready to “give an account of it”. This is also important information to all believers, regarding being prepared to tell others that which they believe. He shows how important this is in other areas, such as when asked about suffering, is the Bible true and can you prove it. Those are not answers one can come up with quickly if study and preparation has not been done.
The author’s main purpose, I believe, is to give the reader encouragement to be ready with answers, not for debating but for giving honest answers to heart felt questions. People have a right to question what they do not understand. Believers must not feel intimidated because they are questioned regarding what they believe. Again, the mission is God’s and the believer is the avenue to the world. Rheenen states it very well in a graph that reads, “God originated the mission, Jesus enacted the mission, the Holy Spirit gives power to the mission, the Church carries the mission and the world hears the mission” (18).
The most significant message I received from this book was on the last pages. Pollard states, “But if the results we hope to achieve are our prime motive for evangelism, what happens when people don’t become Christians? So what should be our motive for evangelism? The answer is this: love…I urge you to join me in praying that God will give you such a passionate love for people – that you, like Paul, will find that this love compels you. And if you have found this book helpful, will you pray that prayer for me also?” (176).
As I read these words, I began to weep. I weep because I want God’s love for the lost. Not simply to add numbers to the church I attend, but for the solitary reason that I love God and I want to do what he is pleased with. So I prayed for myself as well as the author. This is a very important power the believer has, prayer. If the believer prays for one’s self as well as others, for God to give wisdom and the ability to give the message clearly, he will do it.
It is fitting to end with this message in scripture, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col 4:2-6). May the words of the missionary and minister be made clear, as it should be so that the hearer can hear and respond, and evangelism can then be made slightly less difficult.
Josh.org: worldviews. 2004. 9 February 2006. http://www.Josh.org>.
Pollard, Nick. Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997.
Rheenen, Gailyn Van. Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.
Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible. 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.