This was a hard list to put together, there are so many great books on evangelism available that it was hard to whittle them down to just ten recommendations. I’ve tried to include a range of books that cover different areas of the theology and practice of evangelism. Biographies of evangelists, books about the gospel itself, evangelistic books/tracts and volumes covering specific areas of evangelistic practice such as apologetics will all get their own lists down the road so what follows here are ten* great books (in no particular order) specifically about evangelism itself.
Stay Salt – Rebecca Manley Pippert
More than four decades ago Becky Pippert wrote a classic book on evangelism called Out of the Salt Shaker which had a profound impact upon the church around the world. For me, Becky’s most recent book Stay Salt (a spiritual sequel of sorts) is even better, combining solid biblical foundations for evangelism with massive practical encouragement, all presented in her warm style which constantly reasserts our motivation for evangelism to be love, and our method to be joy. This is the best general book on evangelism of the last ten years. (in a similar vein see also, Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice)
How To Revive Evangelism – Craig Springer
Craig Springer is the director of Alpha USA, and in this brilliant resource he combines his own and others’ experiences and learnings from Alpha with up to date research from Barna on attitudes towards Christianity and evangelism from those inside and outside the church. With the research having been done in the US the application is skewed to that mission field, but the general gist of the findings are applicable beyond the borders of the US and make for informed, practical and practice changing reading. An excellent and timely resource.
Evangelism As Exiles – Elliot Clark
Another book that is written with the US as its context for application but is still applicable wherever you may be reading from. Here Elliot Clark combines his own experiences on the mission field with a wide ranging and faithful study of scripture (with 1 Peter being a focal point overall) to reflect upon the cost of being faithful witnesses of the gospel whilst reassuring readers of the hope we have – both future and present – in our King. Equally challenging and inspirational, this book will help readers to live and speak out the gospel faithfully as ‘strangers in our own lands’.
The Logic of Evangelism – William J. Abraham
This book was a game changer, the first serious and yet popular(ish) level theological reflection on evangelism. Written in 1989, it still holds today as a seminal work to encourage discussion about what evangelism is, particularly in light of the kingdom of God. It is weighty but not inaccessible, and anyone who wants to look with a more seriously theological eye at evangelism would do well to start here.
Story Bearer – Phil Knox
Phil is a superb communicator and it turns out that his verbal skills translate to the page beautifully. Story Bearer is a delight to read, not simply because it is written so well, but because it encourages readers to bring God’s story, our story, the story of our friends and the story of culture into a collision that will impact whole church evangelism in profound ways. This is a great book to give to people who think evangelism is for the preaching evangelist because it encourages an approach that truly can outworked by anyone and reasserts continually that those who have a friendship with a not-yet Jesus follower are almost always the best positioned to go on a journey with them towards Him.
The Masterplan of Evangelism – Robert Coleman
In this absolute classic, Robert Coleman explores Jesus’ own method of evangelism which was to invest himself in his disciples in such a way that they would become the carriers of the message about his life, ministry, death, resurrection and return. Robert coleman unpacks the biblical reality that the masterplan of evangelism (in practice and outcome) is – spoiler alert – discipleship.
Models of Evangelism – Priscilla Pope-Levinson
A relatively recent but long overdue book that explores theologically and practically eight different models of evangelistic practice, from interpersonal conversation to platform preaching, online engagement to church services. Pope-Levinson has done us a real service in deepening our thought about the diversity of evangelistic method which finds it’s unity in the truth of the gospel proclaimed and the Spirit’s power for the task.
Speaking of method, this is probably as good a place as anywhere to also give a little shout out to another classic, Power Evangelism by John Wimber which explores the Holy Spirit in evangelism as both a model (signs and wonders) and as the essential ingredient in any effective witness.
The Scandal of Evangelism – Elmer John Thiessen
A more accessible treatment of the same material Thiessen presented in his earlier The Ethics of Evangelism. Here Thiessen presents a biblical and cultural analysis of the ethics of Christian proselytisation before offering in the second half of the book lots of practical advice on how to take the good news to the world in a ‘good’ way. If you have concerns over objections to evangelism conceptually or in practice then this is an excellent (albeit not always easy) read.
If Jesus Is The Answer, What Is The Question? – Ben Jack
It feels a little self-serving to put one of my own books on the list, but truth be told I’m not aware of anything that does quite what I set out to do in this little volume and so here we are (although Randy Newman’s excellent Questioning Evangelism is in a similar post code and very much recommended). If you’re looking for something short, highly practical and focussed on turning ordinary daily conversations into extraordinary gospel opportunities (through the simple use of questions – five for us to use in preparation before we witness, five as models our witness in practice) then I’m confident this will help you (or your money back!**)
How To Climb Everest – Kami Rita Sherpa
Okay, this is the curve-ball (every list needs one). This lovely little book – easily read in 30 mins – explains something of the process and effort needed to ascend Everest, written by the man who has climbed it more than anyone else in history. So why is this included on a list of books about evangelism? Well, when I first read it I couldn’t help but see so many parallels to the task of sharing faith in our world and I’ve been using it ever since to get people thinking creatively about evangelism, the joys, challenges, highs and lows. If you’re looking for something totally non-threatening (and highly engaging) to use as a conversation starter about evangelism then with a bit of creativity and prep this works as an unexpected but stimulating entry point. With this in mind, there will likely be other stimulus that you can use similarly, get creative, especially with those who might otherwise switch off to reading or chat about evangelism.
Honorary Mention: I Believe In Evangelism – David Watson
David Watson’s brilliant little volume on evangelism is sadly out of print (and has been since the mid-nineties). A couple of years ago I tried (and so far have failed) to get a new edition commissioned because for my money this is still the best all around look at evangelism in a single volume. David Watson had such a gift for distilling rich truth into accessible and applicable teaching, and whilst some of it is a little dated now, the approach to the subject, the range of content it covers and the clarity it provides are all so good that I still to this day have never read a book that explores evangelism so holistically, biblically, succinctly and accessibly.
Thankfully you can still get second hand copies of this gem (usually cheaply too) and I would definitely recommend that you do, at least to tide you over until we can get that lovely new edition out one day!
* technically I’ve squeezed in fourteen books here, but I did tell you it was hard to whittle it down!
** Publisher not keen on this offer, so if the book doesn’t help the best I can do is a regretful bow of the head and a promise to try harder next time.