I have finished re-reading Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult by Nick Pollard. I love the realistic title of this book, which says nothing about making evangelism “easy.” This is the best book that I have seen on reaching those who are more postmodern in their thinking. Pollard is an evangelist and a speaker living in Great Britain who spends a lot of his time sharing the Gospel with university students. His writing style displays genuine humility and a willingness to share his failures as well as his successes.
Most of the traditional approaches to evangelism work fairly well with those who have some Christian teaching in their background and/or accept a fundamentally Christian world view. They also work fairly well with those who have learned quite a bit about the Christian faith and are exploring the possibility of becoming a Christian. But an increasing percentage of those around us, especially in the younger generation, no longer fit into those categories.
Pollard begins by dividing potential recipients of the Gospel message into four categories:
- people who are just about ready to become Christians
- people who want to become Christians, but are holding back because of questions and doubts
- people who are genuinely interested, but not sure where to begin because they know so little about Jesus
- people who are just not interested, either openly hostile or just apathetic
He then organizes his book by talking about how to reach out to each group, beginning with the last and working toward the first. The section on reaching the fourth group is by far the longest section and provide the subtitle for the book: “How to Interest People Who Aren’t Interested.” This, of course, is the most difficult group to reach.
How can we reach those who are not interested, and who may be satisfied with their world view and current manner of life? We are not called to preach the Gospel only to the interested, but neither can we force Christian beliefs on those who don’t want them. In this context, Pollard talks about the need for “Positive Deconstruction,” which involves encouraging satisfied non-Christians to explore their assumptions a little more deeply and helping them to see the areas in which they are inadequate. Once they see the need they will be more open to hearing about Jesus. That means that sharing the Gospel may begin with talking about a lot of other things. Many people today are simply not ready to jump right into the Four Spiritual Laws. This is something that was called “pre-evangelism” over 30 years ago by Frances Schaeffer, founder of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland (see his book The God Who Is There).