With a clear articulation of the gospel alongside practical examples from ten women, this book supplies role models for learning how to faithfully and effectively share the gospel in any context.
About the Author
Kathleen Nielson (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is an author and speaker who loves working with women in studying the Scriptures. After directing the Gospel Coalition’s women’s initiatives from 2010–2017, she now serves as senior adviser and book editor for TGC. She and her husband, Niel, make their home partly in Wheaton, Illinois, and partly in Jakarta, Indonesia. They have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and five granddaughters.
Gloria Furman (MACE, Dallas Theological Seminary) lives in the Middle East where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. She is the author of many books, including Missional Motherhood; Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full; and Glimpses of Grace.
Rosaria Butterfield (PhD, Ohio State University) is an author, speaker, pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and former professor of English and women’s studies at Syracuse University. She is the author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert and Openness Unhindered.
Megan Hill (BA, Grove City College) is a pastor’s wife and a pastor’s daughter who has spent her life praying with others. She serves on the editorial board for Christianity Today and is a regular contributor to the Her.meneutics blog and the Gospel Coalition website. Megan lives in West Springfield, Massachusetts, with her husband and three children.
Happy Khambule has been working in UAE for thirteen years as a cardiac perfusionist in one of the hospitals. She serves as a deaconess of women’s ministry at Redeemer Church of Dubai and enjoys encouraging women to dig deeper into the Word of God and develop a culture of discipleship among women. She is from South Africa and she and her husband have two sons and a granddaughter.
Jamie Love has been married to Pastor Louis Love Jr. for thirty-nine years, and they have three adult children, two daughters-in-law, and eleven grandchildren. She serves as the director of women’s ministries at New Life Fellowship Church in Lake County, Illinois. Jamie is a homeschooler, a speaker, and the cofounder and instructor of a weekly teleconference Bible study and outreach to women across the United States.
Read an Excerpt
The Glorious What of Evangelism
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most glorious, liberating news that has ever graced our weary, battered planet. Just before the resurrected Jesus ascended into heaven he commanded his disciples to share this good news, and that command extends to all of his followers — in our towns, our communities, and to the ends of the earth. His instructions have nothing to do with our gifts or personality types! He simply commanded, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19 NIV; cf. Acts 1:8). The best decision anyone anywhere can ever make, in response to God's grace, is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ — by faith in his death on the cross in our place and his resurrection from the dead that promises eternal life. Nothing is more important. Nothing.
The cultural landscape can seem daunting to those who would share this good news — especially those in the Western world. Many pundits and analysts say that America in particular is moving in the direction of secular Europe. The Christian church is growing dramatically in other parts of the globe — but not so much in the West, where, with the impact of advanced modernity, influential voices are becoming increasingly hostile and antagonistic to true Christian faith. Today any statement of biblical truth about God is often seen as arrogant, intolerant, and politically incorrect.
But a truth-denying culture doesn't have the power to take away people's longing for meaning and worth. If anything, it exacerbates it. God has placed in all human beings the longing for identity, purpose, and relationship, even if people can't quite articulate what they feel they are missing. Yet how will unbelievers know where to look unless Christians both live and tell the good news of what God has done for us in Christ?
Still, our present culture poses increasing challenges for the gospel. For example, I recently had a conversation with a woman who said, "I believe we must honor the god who dwells within our psyche and trust our hearts to guide us — and Oprah really agrees with me!"
A "New Age" devotee told me she no longer believes in the Christian God (if she ever did) because God hadn't answered her prayers for her sister's recovery from cancer: "When she died, I knew I had to find a belief system that deifies the human self, so I could exercise greater control." I asked her if she was experiencing any challenges in her New Age faith: "Well," she said, "I haven't quite grasped how to fully apprehend my deity — I think that's why I'm not seeing the answers I want."
Another woman told me that she was a convinced atheist and that life had no meaning: "Human beings are nothing more than meaningless pieces of protoplasm. There is no God — which Darwin has so clearly proven."
Christianity, of course, says something altogether different. Even though a great deal of the Christian message runs counter to our culture, we can still respond intelligently, persuasively, and winsomely to people with very different views. However, if we don't understand what we believe, we won't be persuasive in communicating our faith to others.
In my years as an evangelist, and as my husband and I have given evangelism training to believers all over the world, we have learned that the deepest motivation for witness comes by first understanding what we believe. It is our theology that must impact our methodology. Not to overlook the importance of the how — but it's absolutely vital that we begin with the what. Never has this been truer than today, for in a truth-denying world, even Christians are tempted to lose confidence in the powerful truth of the gospel. This truth is personal truth: in understanding the what of our faith, we come to know more deeply and speak more clearly about the one in whom our faith rests.
How do we discover truth about who God is and what he has done for us in Christ? The Judeo-Christian faith is based not on what we think about God, but on what God has revealed about himself: Christianity is a religion of revelation. God has made himself known in many ways, but his primary revelation is through his written Word, the Bible, which reveals the Word made flesh: Jesus the Son of God. When we give testimony to our faith, we are sharing not just our own experience but our experience of God's life-changing revelation to us in Christ.
So let's follow the biblical storyline of that revelation: Creation — Crisis — Christ's Redemption — Christ's Return.
The Creator God and a Good Creation
In a world filled with multiple-choice starting points, we must start where the Bible starts: "In the beginning God ..." (Gen. 1:1). In Genesis 1–2, we discover a great deal about who God is:
God is eternal and sovereign: God is without beginning or end, having no peer or competitor. God has absolute authority. He commanded and it was accomplished.
God is the Creator: He created all things out of nothing; he needed no help. That God created the world means he is above and beyond all he has made, and is distinct from it.
God is good: His character is righteous and holy, loving and merciful, trustworthy and faithful.
God is personal and communicative: God is not some distant, impersonal power — or a detached mind — or an energy field. God is a loving, personal God who delights and shows parental, nurturing concern over what he creates.
This God created human beings as the apex of his entire creation — all finally declared by him to be "very good" (Gen. 1:31). What made human beings unique from all the rest of creation is that only humans were created in the image of God. Adam and Eve were given language, creativity, love, holiness, immortality, and freedom (within divine limits) to choose their actions. They were created to love and know God, to live in harmony with him and the rest of creation, to reveal God to the rest of his creation, and to rule the world as God's stewards, under his sovereign, loving rule. This is our crucial starting point as we interact and share the good news with others: every single human being is created by God in the image of God.
Everything God created was made for God's glory and for human benefit. Adam and Eve had an open, intimate relationship with God; a loving relationship with each other; fulfilling work to do; and a world full of pleasures, tastes, sights, and smells! They were created to enjoy God's goodness and submit to God's gracious will. All of Eden was given to them with only one restriction: "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die" (Gen. 2:16–17). God placed the tree in the center of the garden and clearly warned Adam and Eve of the consequence if they willfully chose independence instead of God-dependence: They would surely die.
But the principal feature of life — life as God intended — was a lavish gift. The gospel message from start to finish is God's personal offer of amazing grace!
Crisis: The Fall and the Mess We Made of Things
People around us today often scoff at the notion of sin. Our world has new names for what ails us: poor self-esteem, neurosis, addiction, anxiety, psychological wounding, etc. It isn't that these issues are not a reality; it's that such analysis does not go deep enough to reveal the root cause.
Yet for all the protest that sin is an old-fashioned, outdated concept, nearly everyone agrees that something has gone terribly wrong and must be made right. We see the wrong in world wars, racism, genocides, terrorism, human trafficking, exploitation of children — and in our own personal battles evidenced in broken relationships, anger, addictions, and on and on.
What happened that caused our planet to go from paradise to our present brokenness? In Genesis 3, we discover that, though Adam and Eve were created in God's image, they rejected God's rule and chose to be self-ruled when they disobeyed God's command not to eat the fruit of that tree. As a result, sin entered the human race: there is now no area of human personhood that is not infected by sin — even though we still reflect, however dimly, the image of God in which each human being is made. But the perfection God had established was broken, and human beings have been in the grip of sin ever since, as Genesis 4–11 so chillingly describes. Sin is such an all-inclusive reality on our planet that Paul says: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Like Adam and Eve, all humans have chosen self-rule instead of God-rule.
That means that everything we see around us and in us that is so tragically wrong — natural disasters, famine, genocides, and all forms of personal brokenness — can be traced back to the time when human beings first rebelled against God. Into that garden came the evil Serpent, whom Revelation identifies as "that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan" (Rev.20:2). The Bible reveals the reality of Satan and other supernatural beings who have rebelled against God and who do their best to tempt human beings to sin. Although the Bible reveals various forms of evil, such as corporate systemic evil and Satan and his demons — the Bible is clear that at the heart of sin is personal rebellion against God.
Genesis 3: Sin's Essence and Sin's Outcome
Over dinner, a skeptic psychiatrist friend described the typical problems that drive people to seek her help. Then she said: "But you're a Christian, so you think the problem is that we're all sinners!" I asked what she thought the biblical understanding of sin was, and she answered, "Oh, something along the lines of drugs, sex, androck 'n roll?"
What my friend didn't grasp is that from the biblical perspective, sin at its core isn't just misdeeds. The Bible locates sin at the very center of human personality. Sin could be described as having a God-complex: we get ourselves and God mixed up! We live as if we are in charge. Sin is actually twofold: it's the deliberate refusal to trust and worship God as God, and it's the prideful claim to insist on the right to run our lives. Sin is both unbelief and idolatry, as we try to create meaning and identity by depending on things other than God.
Biblically speaking, sin is always against God. That is why we can't understand sin's true meaning without understanding that sin, first and foremost, is rebellion and disobedience against a righteous God.
What was the final outcome of human disobedience to God? When Adam and Eve turned away from God in rebellion, God declared to them his righteous judgment, just as he had promised. Suffering and death fell upon the human race. The consequence of Adam and Eve's rebellion was disastrous: the human race became catastrophically separated from the eternal love of God. The perfect trust and warm, intimate friendship they had enjoyed with God and with each other were destroyed; they lived instead under his judgment of death. God's presence was removed and human beings experienced a spiritual separation from God they had never known.
The predicament of fallen humanity is so serious, so grave, and so desperately wrong from within and without, that it is beyond human ability to fix. Think about it: Can fallen human beings change the intrinsic structure of our sinful nature and remake our natures from the inside? Can we defeat Satan? Do we have the power to conquer death? Clearly we do not!
Who then has the power to deliver and rescue us? Who can take what is so terribly wrong and make it right? Obviously, only a power that is stronger than ourselves can help us overcome ourselves. Nothing short of divine intervention can rectify our situation.
We glimpse this divine intervention even in the garden of Eden. Although God banished Adam and Eve from the garden, he didn't stop loving them, as we see when he tenderly made them better clothes than what they'd made for themselves, to protect them once they were outside the garden.
Most important, in Genesis 3:14–15, God declares war on the Serpent (Satan) and says that the offspring of the woman will crush the Serpent's head. The whole rest of the Old Testament points toward the coming of that promised offspring who would finally defeat Satan: Jesus the Savior, born of a woman named Mary. God will not allow the Enemy's plan to harm his plan. This is the first promise of the gospel!
The Bible reveals that before the beginning of time and the human revolt, God had already decided on his plan of how to rescue the planet that had turned from him (Titus 1:2; Eph. 3:11). He would send a Redeemer, Christ Jesus the divine Son of God, who would endure suffering and death in order to bring sinners back to God. Even in human rebellion we see the promise of God's grace.
Christ and Our Redemption
The good news of the gospel is that sin and judgment were not the end of the story!
Though God owed us nothing, in his mercy and grace he sent his divine Son from heaven on a rescue mission in order to redeem a people for himself and to restore everything under Christ: "to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ" (Eph. 1:10).
How did the Father send his Son? Christ Jesus came to us from heaven through his birth, life and ministry, death and resurrection, and ascension. What theologians call the doctrine of the incarnation affirms that Jesus was the God-man: his nature was fully divine and fully human, though without sin. While each aspect of Jesus's life has vital lessons in evangelism, we must focus on the cross and resurrection to grasp the heart of this good news we have to share.
The Death of Jesus
It is extraordinary to realize what Jesus's death accomplished: human rebellion and sin were overcome, the power of the enemy was conquered, and death was defeated. While all that Christ's death accomplished is vitally important, it is the overcoming of sin that lies at the very heart of the meaning of the crucifixion.
What we often miss is how a holy and loving God could forgive sin without compromising his holiness — and yet judge evil without frustrating his love. What is God to do? He loves us and we have rebelled. His nature is loving, but he is also just. Someone once told me, "I believe in Karma! The law of Karma is harsh: you sin — and you pay! It's as simple as that!"
But the amazing good news of the gospel is this: you sin — and God paid! When the just judgment of a holy God had to fall, Christ became our substitute, and the wrath of God fell on him. It is a remarkable fact: we are the proud sinners, but the final sacrifice for our sin and pride is God, a willing victim.
The late John Stott wrote:
For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and put himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.
We can never humanly fathom what Jesus endured on the cross. We get a hint in the garden of Gethsemane when we see Jesus's profound sorrow as he realized what he was about to face on the cross (Matt. 26:36–46; Luke 22:39–46). But the deepest clue is hearing Jesus's loud cry from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). Now we see a glimpse of the cost Jesus endured: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21). At the cross Jesus took on himself the sins of the whole world — from all nations, past, present, and future — bearing God's wrath as the perfect and final sacrifice for all who believe in him (1 John 2:2, 23–25). Just as sin separates us from God's presence, so Jesus was separated from the very presence of God.
That, far more than the nails and suffocation, is why the cross was so excruciating. To pay the price for human sin, Jesus had to experience the utter anguish and abandonment of being separated from God and bearing his judgment for sin. That is what hell is, to be severed from God's presence and under God's wrath; hell is what Jesus's agony was about. Christ had never known a moment apart from the presence of his Father until the cross.
In light of this, there is only one question before us: What kind of God willingly sacrifices everything so that he can be in relationship with his creation? Remember, God the Father didn't start loving us after Jesus went to the cross. God's love for us sent him there. The cross didn't procure grace; it flowed from grace. Christ took our sinfulness into himself and overcame in his own heart what could not be overcome in human life. That is why the cross is the dividing line of human history. In every facet of God's action on the cross we see divine love at work. More than any other act of human history, the cross reveals why the good news of Jesus Christ is truly a gospel of grace.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Joyfully Spreading the Word"
Copyright © 2018 The Gospel Coalition.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction Kathleen Nielson 13
Part 1 Core Concerns
1 The Glorious What of Evangelism Becky Pippert 21
2 The Heart of the Evangelist Megan Hill 35
3 The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission Camille Hallstrom 47
4 Mercy Ministry and Proclamation Ministry Eowyn Stoddard 61
Part 2 Representative Contexts
5 Spreading the Word in Everyday Life Gloria Furman 77
6 Spreading the Word among Children Jamie Love 91
7 Spreading the Word among University Students SharDavia Walker 105
8 Spreading the Word in the Workplace Happy Khambule 119
9 Spreading the Word among Friends Identifying as LGBTQ Rosaria Butterfield 133
10 Spreading the Word in Diverse Contexts: Women All around You 147
Appendix: Representative Resources for Evangelism 163
General Index 177
Scripture Index 181
What People are Saying About This
“Read it and weepjoyfully! This book on evangelism for women, by women, carefully interweaves biblical exegesis with moving stories of gospel transformation and rejection from the diverse experiences of humble sisters in Christ. We are reminded that time is short, our mandate is clear, and King Jesus is gloriousyet we are weak and fearful, preoccupied, and inward looking. I love the book’s insistence on prayerful dependence on God to work, and the soul-burning witness to his answers to these prayers. We are repeatedly encouraged to know our Savior better, that we may proclaim the riches of his grace more fully and with greater nuance and sensitivity to context. It’s a book I want every Christian woman I know to readbecause nothing matters more!”
Fiona Millar, Lecturer, Queensland Theological College
“Each and every day the Lord sends his people out all over the world with the same glorious commission: ‘Go and make disciples.’ Joyfully Spreading the Word shares faithful examples of disciple making in places of employment, universities, neighborhoods, and homesrightly reminding us that wherever we are, we have the privilege of sharing the Word with others. This book will encourage and inspire you to see the mission field in your own backyard.”
Melissa B. Kruger, Director of Women’s Content, The Gospel Coalition; author, In All Things: A Nine-Week Devotional Bible Study on Unshakeable Joy
“Have you been longing to share the gospel with your friends and neighbors but have been hesitant to initiate? If so, Joyfully Spreading the Word is the perfect place to begin. We all know that we should evangelize, yet most of us feel guilty that we rarely do it. This winsome collection from various writers reminded me of the daily opportunities I have to share my faith and gives me courage and tools to follow through. These women offer practical examples from everyday life, which makes this book so helpful. Read ityou’ll be stirred afresh to share the best news in the world!”
Vaneetha Rendall Risner, author, The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering
“This great book was written by women, but its content is for everyone. The authors truly understand what the Great Commission is all about. It is about not only proclaiming the gospel message, but about living it out every day and in every place. ‘The ambassador for Christ is never off duty,’ to use one of the many gospel phrases found in this book. By this, the authors mean that, regardless of where you live, work, or even visit, as a redeemed person, you are expected to live and share the good news of our Redeemer. Jesus said to go and make disciples, but if we are to live the gospel in everyday life, then we never stop going. That is the challenge in this book. Please buy, read, and apply this book. It is worthy.”
Miguel Núñez, Senior Pastor, International Baptist Church, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Founding President, Wisdom & Integrity Ministries
“Joyfully Spreading the Word is refreshingly rooted in delight rather than duty. It is a clarion call compelling all women to go, make disciples, and teach his commandments, coupled with the gentle reminder of the great comfort that he is with us always, to the end of the age.”
Karen Hodge, Coordinator of Women’s Ministries, Presbyterian Church in America; coauthor, Life-giving Leadership and Transformed
“Biblical teaching, combined with personal examples and stories, make this book a warmhearted challenge for women to engage their everyday worlds with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Be encouraged by it, then take a risk and share your faith with someone around you.”
Mack and Leeann Stiles, authors, Mack & Leeann’s Guide to Short-Term Missions and Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus
“At heart, I’m a hesitant evangelistand I don’t like that. ‘What should I say? How should I say it? Who would listen?’ That’s why I can heartily recommend Joyfully Spreading the Word. This theologically sound, guilt-free book answers those questions. Through a collection of stories and a variety of role models, it inspires readers with both the privilege and the urgency of the biblical mandate to go and share ‘the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 3:15). Read it, use it, and see if God won’t indeed prove through your life that his Word will not return empty, but will accomplish that which he purposes (Isa. 55:11).”
Jani Ortlund, Executive Vice President, Renewal Ministries
“A desire to reach the lost has often been the gate through which all sorts of unhelpful things have gained entrance into the church. And so I am grateful that Joyfully Spreading the Word is what so many books on evangelism are not: engaging and humane while still clear and faithful. I found each chapter to be thought provoking, challenging, and full of insight. As I read it, I found myself both scheming about ways to share the gospel in my circles, and also making a list of other people I wanted to point toward this resource. I recommend it wholeheartedly.”
Mike McKinley, Pastor, Sterling Park Baptist Church; author, Church in Hard Places; Am I Really a Christian?; and Church Planting Is for Wimps
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
*I received a free e-book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review. Thoughts: What an encouraging read. This book was better than I anticipated. I loved that each of the chapters were written by women, for women. I also enjoyed how the authors creatively sectioned off the book into biblical appreciation (the WHY behind sharing our faith) & practical application (the HOW to do it). There is so much power in sharing our stories and experience. It's what brings us together! And this book does just that. It's also an easy read. Some theological books take a while to get through or are too difficult to finish. This book is not that. It really is enjoyable. I’ll definitely be recommending this to friends and family.
This book discussed how we as women, can share the Good news of Jesus Christ wherever we go. Each chapter was authored by a different woman. I loved how each author had an unique story to tell. I finished the book and am inspired to think about different ways I can tell the people God has already placed in my life about Him. If you are looking to be inspired about evangelism, then I recommend this book. I was blessed to receive an electronic copy and all opinions are my own
I received a free e-book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!). All thoughts are 100% my own. This book is split into two parts, and has ten chapters. Each chapter is written by a different woman. The first part is titled “Core Concerns” and goes over the basics of the gospel and evangelizing. The second part is “Representative Contexts” and contains advice and stories. I don’t remember very much from a few chapters, but I enjoyed the book overall. Even though the target audience is women, I can see men benefiting from this book as well. This is a very theologically sound book, plus anthologies (is that the right word?) are such a great way to find new authors. This book encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, but I’m far from approaching strangers. I’m a HUGE introvert with social anxiety. I’m the type of person who doesn’t talk unless someone talks to me first. Most of the evangelizing I do is in Facebook groups, forums, etc. Sharing the gospel on social media is just as important as sharing it with friends, family, and co-workers, and going overseas as a missionary… John Piper once said, “Scatter the seeds of Truth to the winds of social media. If God wills, you can touch someone around the world with what you say.”