The Church Leaders “Best Books” series is our way of helping leaders find, read, and recommend books on a variety of important topics related to ministry and the Christian life. Check out the rest of our best books lists.
We kick off our series with Jonathan Dodson’s favorite books for evangelism. Jonathan serves as a pastor of City Life Church in Austin, Texas. He is the author of several books, including Gospel-Centered Discipleship and Raised?. Follow him on Twitter: @Jonathan_Dodson.
Also, check out Jonathan’s new book on evangelism, The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing.
It’s hard to list five favorite books on evangelism, not because I command a vast knowledge of evangelistic literature, but because there are so many different types of “texts” or fields of knowledge that motivate and inform evangelism.
For example, a great missionary biography, like Amy Carmichael or Adoniram Judson, can awaken evangelistic zeal and commitment to perseverance through the difficulty of mission. Apologetic books stimulate evangelistic wisdom. Penetrating cultural texts, like Peter Berger’s A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural or David Brooks recent New York Times column on the vacuous, contemporary pursuit of “meaningfulness,” motivate us to communicate the deeper, broader, grander alternative to modernity and relativistic consumer culture—the gospel of Jesus Christ. Practical books can fill in knowledge gaps, strengthen skill, and inspire with stories. Aesthetic texts, like poetry, fiction, or art can remind you how beautiful the gospel is, and its centerpiece, Jesus our Lord. They remind us to show how attractive Christ is, not just how reasonable his offer. Then there’s the human texts. A good evangelist will not merely address but also read people. There’s nothing like spending time with a skeptic, seeker, or sufferer to motivate prayerfulness and excitement about the relevance of Jesus Christ as the truth for doubters, the way for seekers, and the life for sufferers. If we read them well, we will see something of the gospel in their doubt, curiosity, and difficulty.
By now are probably thinking this was all just a ploy to list more than five books! So, without dragging on, here are five books from different fields that are my “favorites” in evangelism.
1. Learning Evangelism from Jesus by Jerram Barrs
This might be what you were looking for when you clicked on the post. Barrs traces numerous episodes in Jesus’s life, commenting on them with evangelistic wisdom. This benefits us because we get to look at and learn from Jesus simultaneously.
2. Mission in the Early Church by Edward Smither
In under 170 pages, Smither fills a gap in mission literature, provides many insights from the mission of the Early Church, and stimulates evangelism through historical vignettes.
3. Invitation to World Missions by Timothy Tennent
This missiology text was written by one of my professors and mentors, Dr. Timothy Tennent. He grasp and integration of history, theology, Scripture, all around the mission of God will change the way you look at the world, culture, and your mission field.
4. Total Church by Steve Timmis & Tim Chester
An immensely helpful book for rethinking the church around the gospel and in mission. Filled with insights and stories, this accessible book makes the shift to missional church less intimidating, and the Book of Acts, less foreign.
5. Confessions by Saint Augustine
A timeless book on the beauties of the gospel displayed through the brokenness of a church father and the greatness of God’s grace. A book on gospel has to make the list for books about sharing the gospel.