Linda Evans Shepherd has authored over twenty books, mostly targeted at female audiences including The Potluck Club series. She too travels around the nation publicly speaking in an effort to teach and encourage her audiences. She is a frequent guest on both radio and television talk shows and she co-founded Jubilant Press. Longmount, Colorado is the home of Shepherd and her family.
Once his foundation is in place, Fay begins outlining his “sharing” system starting with some probing questions designed to feel out what the Spirit is doing in the subject person. The questions are,
1. Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs? 2. To you, who is Jesus Christ? 3. Do you believe in heaven or hell? 4. If you died, where would you go? And, 5. If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know?As instructed, when the witness gets a yes to question number five, Fay says it is time to get to the scriptures. Here, he argues that the scriptures do the convincing and the Spirit is working on the person. It is not the work of the witness; the witness is merely in the business of turning pages (p. 45). He also gives the reader some responses to work with objections to the Bible.
The next portion of the book is on the sharing system itself. Had Fay published his work twenty years ago, his suggested five probing questions might have been the best questions to ask in order to determine if a person was ripe for hearing the gospel; but as the world shifts into postmodernism, only the first question seems to address the non-believer today. With some rewording, the second question might be more effective. Question three and four come across like something said of a traveling salesperson, and question five could use some updating. The concept behind the questions, that is to determine someone’s ripeness, is a sound and timeless concept, so the wording of these questions does not adversely affect Fay’s premise.
Keeping a special sharing Bible and writing specific notes is a valuable teaching to the evangelist that doesn’t have an arsenal of memorized verses at his or her disposal. Fay’s idea has simplified the sharing process, and in turn, reduced fear even more. However, he only offers two responses for objections to the authority of the Bible. He assumes that the non-believer will accept the authority of the Scriptures once the issues of multiple translations and error are overcome. Here again, the postmodern non-believer often is looking for more, be it background, feeling, or something else. Fay does little to address the potential issues here.
What follows the demonstration of the sharing program is to be expected. Sections on what do to when a person objects and what do to when a person accepts. An author writing on evangelism could hardly expect to be taken seriously if he or she neglected a “what now” section. Fay’s book is no different. There is little if anything outside of what would be found in any other book on this topic.
While Fay’s definition of success is valuable and much needed in a time when most Christians are debilitated by it, he tends to oversimplify evangelism. He is correct in saying God does the work and we are just page turners, but his system does not encourage the evangelist to continually prepare him or herself through study of the Bible, study of the people groups of the community, and prayer. Nor does he encourage authenticity in his pre-programmed system. This might be, in part, Fay’s effort to reduce fear but it potentially comes at a cost. Should the reader fearlessly engage in a bold but unauthentic evangelistic effort that does not look like the picture Fay painted, he or she may be more discouraged than before. On the other hand, there is a reasonable chance that the activity will look exactly like Fay’s understanding of evangelism and the reader will be even more encouraged. Either way, the reader has engaged in Fay’s primary purpose of evangelism even if he or she is ineffective. According to Fay, rightly, he or she has been successful in obeying God’s call to evangelism.
Christians who are inexperienced in evangelism techniques should read this book and use it to build a foundation of experience upon, modifying as they go.
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*This post was, in its entirety or in part, originally written in seminary in partial fulfillment of a M.Div. It may have been redacted or modified for this website. Any purchases through this website help support the ministry of Saltybeliever.com