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Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: "The Unexpected Adventure"

TITLE: The Unexpected Adventure - Taking everyday risks to talk with people about Jesus
AUTHORS: Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.

This is a book about personal evangelism. In particular, it empowers believers to take a step of faith forward to share Christ without being bogged down by results. The author's purpose is described as follows:

"Our unabashed goal is to paint a real-life picture of personal evangelism that's so compelling, so desirable, so irresistible, and so darn do-able that you will be anxious to take the next step yourself -whatever that is - in engaging in your own adventures." (18)

The rest of the book is essentially about 42 days of 'adventure' in which believers in their ordinary circumstances, and neighbouring communities, see life as an exciting, purposeful, and meaningful journey. Each chapter begins with a short story and description of the day's topic. It then points out certain action principles, ending with a biblical inspiration at the end of each day. What makes the book very readable are the personal stories shared by the authors, as well as the practical steps readers can take to putting the ideas into practice. The authors write with a profound understanding of the common layperson, unsure and fearful of evangelism. There are ideas on:

  • not to fret when one does not know how to answer tough religious questions;
  • how we can be the best witness we can be, despite our weaknesses;
  • not to wait for ideal moments, but to simply make use of what is available, however imperfect it may be;
  • using 'compassion radar' to detect how people are feeling (64);
  • changing our erroneous perspective that 'we must know everything before we can do anything.'
  • expecting the unexpected;
  • praying;
  • supporting one another;
  • and many more.
Finally, the authors offer a word of encouragement for the fearful.

"We all love the idea of adventure, but here's the truth: adventure inevitably involves risk, which in turn always entails some measure of anxiety or nervousness. So if you're feeling apprehensive about an outreach opportunity, it's probably a good sign. It means you're well on your way to experiencing real adventure." (280)

My Comments

For too often, the Church at large has been stymied by a very narrow sense of evangelism. By narrow, I mean people interpret evangelistic work as mainly pushing for a quick conversion, to press others to say the sinners' prayer, and to talk Jesus into the heads of people. These certainly have a place in the gospel sharing. However, sharing the gospel goes much farther than the word 'Jesus.' It can be lived out. It can be put in practice. It can be inspiring.

I like the way the authors put the ideas simply and with explicit instructions how to step out in faith to live a life of adventure. May the Lord grant readers the enthusiasm to put these 42 days of adventure into practice. It will make evangelism not just a revolutionary part of one's ministry, it will change lives, beginning with us.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


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