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John Dickson reveals The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission ... the Bible lists a whole range of activities-not just speaking-that you can utilize in your everyday life to promote Christ to the world and draw others toward him.


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John Dickson reveals The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission ... the Bible lists a whole range of activities-not just speaking-that you can utilize in your everyday life to promote Christ to the world and draw others toward him.

30 review for The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Shelnutt

    Though the subtitle might lead one to wonder, this book does not deprecate the importance of verbally sharing the Gospel. Instead, it makes a case for not assuming that other means of communicating the Gospel are less important, or merely supplementary. The fact is, the Holy Spirit draws people in unique ways, and no two people’s journey to--and experience of--salvation are the same. Dickson walks the reader through a number of scriptural passages and supporting personal anecdotes. He builds a c Though the subtitle might lead one to wonder, this book does not deprecate the importance of verbally sharing the Gospel. Instead, it makes a case for not assuming that other means of communicating the Gospel are less important, or merely supplementary. The fact is, the Holy Spirit draws people in unique ways, and no two people’s journey to--and experience of--salvation are the same. Dickson walks the reader through a number of scriptural passages and supporting personal anecdotes. He builds a case, chapter-by-chapter, for prayer, giving, deeds, public praise and daily conversation all being means through which the Gospel is proclaimed. Sometimes one or some of these are the vehicles by which a heart is prepared to hear the fuller message of the significance of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. At other times a person may already possess the knowledge of the truth, but it lies dormant until further God-ordained means stir the heart to exercising faith. Chapter Eight was the most thought-provoking to me. The author stresses the importance of the entire narrative of Jesus’ life as told in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). The many, (many!) courses of evangelism on the market typically have one thing in common: they attempt to boil the Gospel down into several manageable bullet points that are “guaranteed” to be effective in personal witnessing opportunities. I’m familiar with a number of approaches and depending on the situation, there is helpful and relevant information contained in most. But I don’t think I need to convince anyone who’s spent time witnessing to others that there is not a fail-proof, one-size-fits all approach to evangelism. I do think, however, that some approaches are more effective--as well as more biblical--than others. Dickson argues that in an attempt to present the Gospel thoroughly in a short window of time (which is what most witnessing opportunities offer), the sincerely concerned Christian often tries to cram in as much information as possible. This can come across as confusing and disingenuous, and, I might add, can actually obscure how the Holy Spirit might be leading in a particular situation. There are several summaries of the Gospel in Scripture: I Corinthians 15:3-5, Romans 1:3-4, and II Timothy 2:8. But these are each set in the larger context of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Therefore, the author unpacks the narrative of Jesus’ life and ministry in the Gospels and argues for their significance when it comes to explaining the Gospel. All the necessary doctrinal points of salvation are present and illustrated in the four Gospel accounts, including sin and judgment, grace and forgiveness, wrath and atonement. Also, the overarching theme of the Gospels--that Jesus is the King who is ushering in the Kingdom of God--is the same theme carried through the book of Acts and explored doctrinally in the Epistles. Does faith come by hearing the word of Christ? According to Romans 10:17, yes. Are there means by which a person may “hear” other than a specific verbal proclamation of the Gospel? According to the Bible, and as elucidated by Dickson, yes. Proclaiming the Gospel in other ways than with our lips doesn’t diminish its impact. And there shouldn’t be mutually exclusive approaches in which we compartmentalize how witnessing must be done. Instead, let us speak and live, preach and pray, proclaim and sing. Let us witness but not feel like the burden is on us to explain everything in every encounter, or feel the pressure to check off all the boxes on our witnessing checklist. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years when it comes to evangelism, God is sovereign over our opportunities and efforts.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Allen

    Helpful distinction between evangelism and 'gospel promotion' that every Christian can and should involve themselves in.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eleasa

    What a practical book to persuade you that we can promote the Gospel in so many everyday ways that you may have never even thought about before!: flexible social relationships, financial support of the gospel, prayer, good works, the praise of God in church, answering for the faith, and the work of evangelists. But John also grounds the mission in this truth: there is one God, and we point others to know Him by ourselves embodying Jesus Christ, friend of sinners. He also spends a large chunk in What a practical book to persuade you that we can promote the Gospel in so many everyday ways that you may have never even thought about before!: flexible social relationships, financial support of the gospel, prayer, good works, the praise of God in church, answering for the faith, and the work of evangelists. But John also grounds the mission in this truth: there is one God, and we point others to know Him by ourselves embodying Jesus Christ, friend of sinners. He also spends a large chunk in the middle of the book to answer the question: "What is the Gospel?" and gives some helpful "Gospel bites" and a modern retelling of the Gospel as appendices. My favourite part would have to be the stories John shares as examples of ways people have promoted the Gospel around him which have personally led him to know Jesus, and stories of friends and people around him. (Don't know if I was just tired after finishing night shift, but I cried after reading the last story, which was actually an amalgam of a hundred different stories of faith John has heard over the years.) Finally, this book is written in such a warm, clear, and good-Aussie-natured humour which made it really easy to read :) Highly recommended for any & all Christians!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Josh Haley

    Good for introverts.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Day

    Very accessible and thoughtful approach to mission for non-evangelistic types. Great chapter on how corporate worship can be evangelistic or inspire evangelism.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I very much enjoyed this book. Dr. Dickson is able to explain, what appears to be, complex issues in a way that makes it easy to understand. He also gives real life examples and practical advice for his topic. This book is aimed at a Christian audience. Its advice and stories are geared to those who would say "I am a Christian." Not that one who doesn't claim thus wouldn't enjoy it, it's just not the book's target audience. I can see this book as being helpful for any Christian regardless of whe I very much enjoyed this book. Dr. Dickson is able to explain, what appears to be, complex issues in a way that makes it easy to understand. He also gives real life examples and practical advice for his topic. This book is aimed at a Christian audience. Its advice and stories are geared to those who would say "I am a Christian." Not that one who doesn't claim thus wouldn't enjoy it, it's just not the book's target audience. I can see this book as being helpful for any Christian regardless of where they are in their journey of faith. To the new, fired-up Christian who is blazing with ambition to share their faith, this book can give some wisdom to ensure they are doing so in a way that also helps to bring more people in rather than having people back off from the heat of their words. To the mature Christian this books shares how we are all called to the mission of Christ, but don't necessarily need to so so by talking, and that's ok.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mike Knox

    Dickson begins with four confessions. I’ll repeat the two that I find most significant. First, when he was a budding evangelist, he was guilty of reducing the gospel to a couple of theological truths, ignoring the fact that the gospel is a story. Second, he “came to assume that the only important means of promoting Christ was talking about him” (22). Before tackling either of these early mistakes, Dickson grounds mission in the Bible’s most basic doctrine, which is that there is one God (26). And Dickson begins with four confessions. I’ll repeat the two that I find most significant. First, when he was a budding evangelist, he was guilty of reducing the gospel to a couple of theological truths, ignoring the fact that the gospel is a story. Second, he “came to assume that the only important means of promoting Christ was talking about him” (22). Before tackling either of these early mistakes, Dickson grounds mission in the Bible’s most basic doctrine, which is that there is one God (26). And what does this monotheism have to do with mission? “If there is just one God in the universe, everyone everywhere has a duty to worship that Lord” (27). What follows is an exploration of Psalm 96 and Matthew 28.16-20. The following quote pretty much sums up the significance of tying missions to monotheism: We promote God’s glory to the ends of the earth not principally because of any human need but fundamentally because of God’s/Christ’s unique worthiness as the Lord of heaven and earth. Promoting the gospel is more than a rescue mission…it is a reality mission (35, emphasis added). Now Dickson is ready to tackle his second mistake, which was to think that the only activity that promoted the gospel was talking. He makes an important distinction between proclaiming the gospel and promoting the gospel (23). Then he focuses on the example of Jesus. Jesus’ mission is captured perfectly in his words: “to seek and to save what was lost”. Note the emphasized verbs: “Through his preaching Jesus declared that salvation, through his death and resurrection…he would accomplish that salvation, and through the generosity of his social life he embodied that salvation” (51, emphasis added). Dickson calls us to a “‘salvific mind-set’, that is, an outlook on life that cares deeply for the salvation of others” (60). What other activities promote the gospel besides talking? We can promote the gospel with our praying (chp 4), our giving (chp 5), through the good works of the church (chp 6), Christian behaviour (chp 7), public praise (chp 10), and in daily conversation (chp 11). In the chapter on Christian behaviour, Dickson has this to say after mentioning the atheists Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkings: In the end, the only way to dispel the story that Christianity has been imperialistic, arrogant and harmful is to offer a powerful counternarrative in our lives, day by day committing ourselves to Jesus’ vision of a kingdom marked by meekness, peace-making and love. (105) Dickson handles his first mistake in chapter 8, What is the Gospel? “The modern media term ‘newsflash’ probably comes closest in meaning to the ancient word gospel” (112). The theme of the gospel is the kingdom of God, that God reigns through Jesus Christ. To put it in simple and practical terms, the goal of gospel preaching-–and of gospel promoting—-is to help our neighbours realise and submit to God’s kingship or lordship over their lives. (115) The content of the gospel is the deeds of the Messiah, as shown by a quick analysis of 1 Corinthians 15.3-5. In this passage, there are five parts to Paul’s summary of the gospel (117): • Jesus’ identity as the Christ • Jesus’ saving death • Jesus’ burial • Jesus’ resurrection • Jesus’ appearance to witnesses The third part, Jesus’ burial, is especially helpful in showing that the gospel “is not only a theology—a message about atonement and lordship—it is news of events (121). The Christian gospel was a news report: The earliest Christians never said simply, “Here’s the message: see if this rings true for you,” or “Try our doctrines and see if they improve your life.” Believers always said, “Look, these things happened in Palestine recently and a whole bunch of witnesses saw them with their own eyes.(122) Recently, much has been made of the difference in Jesus’ gospel and Paul’s gospel. I like Dickson’s solution: The connection between Paul’s gospel and the books we call the Gospels is obvious. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all demonstrate Jesus’ messianic credentials before emphasizing his atoning death and glorious resurrection. (123) The rest of the chapter keeps getting better and better. It is worth the price of the book. But to avoid copyright infringements, I will skip to the author’s summary of the “core content” of the gospel (139): • Jesus’ royal birth secured his claim to the eternal throne promised to King David • Jesus’ miracles pointed to the presence of God’s kingdom in the person of the Messiah • Jesus’ teaching sounded the invitation of the kingdom and laid down its demands • Jesus’ sacrificial death atoned for the sins of those who would otherwise be condemned at the consummation of the kingdom • Jesus’ resurrection establishes him as the Son whom God has appointed Judge of the world and Lord of the coming kingdom. To return to the question asked by the chapter’s title, here is the author’s definition from the introduction: The gospel is the announcement that God has revealed his kingdom and opened it up to sinners through the birth, teaching, miracles, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will one day return to overthrow evil and consummate the kingdom for eternity. (22) Chapter 12 (A Year in the Life of the Gospel) is an innovative chapter in which Dickson weaves the principles he’s been writing about with some stories he’s combined and tweaked to show us what can happen when Christians live according to a salvific mind-set. Appendix 1 provides gospel sound bites—short responses to different topics that come up in conversation. In Appendix 2 Dickson attempts a modern retelling of the gospel. This book is undoubtedly the best book on evangelism and promotion of the gospel that I have ever read. I highly recommend it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    A very personal explanation of what some call "lifestyle evangelism", with many references to Scripture. I especially appreciated Chapter 4 "The Hidden Mission." Stories and references are mostly Australia.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Wolfgang

    A great book. It gave me a broader perspektive on evangelism.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

    This was a great book. His theology was sound and his scriptural references were fitting. He made great points and gave good tips. The anecdotes were the best. I really enjoyed it overall.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    This was a fantastic book! I loved Dickon's combination of scholarly acumen and practical wisdom. The "best kept secret of Christian mission," it turns out, is that all Christians are called to missions, in some way or other. This is not the same as saying that all Christians must share the gospel with at least one person per day. Dickson came out of that mentality, and shows the flaws in such thinking. Dickson also spent many years as an evangelist, and he argues that some people have the gifts This was a fantastic book! I loved Dickon's combination of scholarly acumen and practical wisdom. The "best kept secret of Christian mission," it turns out, is that all Christians are called to missions, in some way or other. This is not the same as saying that all Christians must share the gospel with at least one person per day. Dickson came out of that mentality, and shows the flaws in such thinking. Dickson also spent many years as an evangelist, and he argues that some people have the gifts and calling of an evangelist. But, he also acknowledges that most people don't have this calling. How, then, can all Christians participate in mission? Dickson, with a careful balance of substantive exegesis and pastoral directions, works through various ways the Bible presents the missional calling of all Christians. First, we pray, both for people we know who need Christ, and also for the evangelists in our churches. Secondly, we support missions with our money. Thirdly, we support missions with our lifestyle. The way we live, and the good works that we do, will draw others to Christ. Dickson then spends quite a few pages defining the Gospel Biblically. It turns out that the Gospel is quite a bit more powerful than the gospel-bytes and sinners' prayer that most of us were taught in evangelism classes. (I love how Dickson invites his readers, at the end the book, to pray the LORD'S PRAYER, rather than some sappy "sinner's prayer"! :-) Dickson then lays out the exegetical groundwork for believing that a distinct office of "evangelist" exists in Scripture. The chapter I most enjoyed, however, was chapter 10, where he shows that our public worship is evangelistic. For a liturgy-geek like me, it was the icing on the cake. We evangelize simply by worshipping God! Of course, this implies that we actually bring our non-Christian friends to church, something I am personally not very good at doing ... Perhaps that's why chapter 11 is so important. Dickson shows how we can magnify Christ in our daily conversation. There are countless opportunities we have throughout our lives to drop little phrases that glorify God, and might spark further conversations. The last chapter is a fictional story, drawing together many pieces of Dickson's experieces with evangelism. God uses all sorts of ways to bring people to Himself. Dickson does a splendid job of showing our every area of our lives has the potential to be missional!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Re-read in May 2016 A very helpful, down-to-earth book on what 'mission' is: it's not just evangelism, as those who are gifted with evangelism usually state. Dickson shows that it covers much more than this: prayer, giving financially, living well as a Christian, for instance, all have a part to play. Dickson is writing for the ordinary Christian. Yes, he does say that more than one epistle writer talks of having an appropriate answer to those who are enquiring about Christianity, but he also say Re-read in May 2016 A very helpful, down-to-earth book on what 'mission' is: it's not just evangelism, as those who are gifted with evangelism usually state. Dickson shows that it covers much more than this: prayer, giving financially, living well as a Christian, for instance, all have a part to play. Dickson is writing for the ordinary Christian. Yes, he does say that more than one epistle writer talks of having an appropriate answer to those who are enquiring about Christianity, but he also says reminds us that many Christians are only part of a journey for those seeking the truth. They're not the be all and end all. This is something I've found in my own life, and the book is certainly encouraging for those of us who know they're not specifically gifted as evangelists. I think the book will be helpful for many Christians who struggle with other writers who talk as though opening your mouth about Jesus was as simple as ABC. These books are often written by people who are evangelists by gifting. While Dickson is also an evangelist, he's learned that there are many other giftings amongst Christians, and that these all have a part to play.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Josh Washington

    Virtually every chapter begins with an engaging story related to the point of the chapter. The book is really easy and enjoyable to read. The book is full of scripture. He gives numerous support for the majority of what he says from the bible. I suspect the chapters could easily be turned into bible studies. John Dickson is a historian. He uses his knowledge of first century Judaism to show the similarities between early Jewish and Christian methods of declaring the one true God. He is also switch Virtually every chapter begins with an engaging story related to the point of the chapter. The book is really easy and enjoyable to read. The book is full of scripture. He gives numerous support for the majority of what he says from the bible. I suspect the chapters could easily be turned into bible studies. John Dickson is a historian. He uses his knowledge of first century Judaism to show the similarities between early Jewish and Christian methods of declaring the one true God. He is also switched on to the culture around him. His pointers help us engage with the twenty first century, our people in our time. I heartily recommend this book to any and every Christian. In particular Christian leaders who want to encourage those under them to share the gospel and be involved in evangelism. http://thescripturesays.org/2016/01/1...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carl

    I found the book to be accurate and balanced in interpreting Scriptures. The book is not a cliché about mission and evangelism but presents aspects that are often forgotten or not explained well in books on evangelism. You could tell from the way the author navigates through Scriptures that he seriously studied the verses for himself. He made it to be personal and refreshing. Nevertheless, considering the number of good reviews from the book and the names, i expected it to be more deep and acade I found the book to be accurate and balanced in interpreting Scriptures. The book is not a cliché about mission and evangelism but presents aspects that are often forgotten or not explained well in books on evangelism. You could tell from the way the author navigates through Scriptures that he seriously studied the verses for himself. He made it to be personal and refreshing. Nevertheless, considering the number of good reviews from the book and the names, i expected it to be more deep and academic. I didnt find the first half of the book to be very challenging as I already familiar with the material. It got better in the second half of the book. Overall, it would be the first book that i would recommend to any Christian wanting a general understanding of mission and evangelism.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Gruggett

    One of the best books on missions and evangelism that I have read. And have I read more than a few such volumes. Dickson's approach will come as both a challenge and relief to most Christians who have been taught the evangelism has to down with giving a "gospel download." Dickson gives and approach that he calls 'promoting the gospel'. His chapter on giving and "Apt Reply" is excellent. His understanding of the gospel focuses on the theme of the kingdom of God. This is fine so long as it does no One of the best books on missions and evangelism that I have read. And have I read more than a few such volumes. Dickson's approach will come as both a challenge and relief to most Christians who have been taught the evangelism has to down with giving a "gospel download." Dickson gives and approach that he calls 'promoting the gospel'. His chapter on giving and "Apt Reply" is excellent. His understanding of the gospel focuses on the theme of the kingdom of God. This is fine so long as it does not constitute a shift from the soteriological center of the gospel. Otherwise, highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David

    One of the better books I've read on evangelism and mission. Dickson gives us a robust understanding of the gospel and insight into how Christians for centuries have shared it. Any follower of Christ will be equipped for sharing their faith, but not in ways out of their reach. In fact, Dickson helps us see how the many facets of our spiritual formation - community, prayer, worship, etc. - are already a witness to the world when done with sincerity and passion.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Tseng

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lance Irwin

  21. 4 out of 5

    Martin Barnard

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diane Gabriel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Jeffrey

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Charles McCallum

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie Winterton

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lara Cooper

  28. 5 out of 5

    Josh Strnad

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shelby

  30. 4 out of 5

    Simon

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