Show and EvanTell: a couple of book reviews

Thanks to Kregel Publications for providing me with copies of Larry Moyer’s books–Show Me How to Preach Evangelistic Sermons, Show Me How to Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons–in exchange for this blog post and review. I am passionate about preaching and want to grow in my ability to preach sermons that are impactful. I particularly want to be used by God to bring people into his Kingdom. Both of these books offer some sound advice about how to engage non-Christians with life-giving Good News.

Larry Moyer is the founder and CEO of EvanTell, Inc., a ministry which trains people in evangelism. He has a Masters of Divinity from Dallas Theological Seminary and a D.Min from Gordon Conwell and is sought after as a speaker in evangelistic outreaches and training seminars across the country. He has written several other books but all are on the theme of Evangelism and books to aid new Christians.

Speaking from his passion and expertise Moyer has a lot of positive things to say which are instructive and we can learn from. Let us take a look at each of these books and explore what they have to offer:

Show Me How to Preaching Evangelistic Sermons

Show Me How To Preach Evangelistic SermonsIn Show Me How to Preach Evangelistic Sermons, Moyer addresses both the exciting opportunity available in Evangelistic preaching (part 1) and the content and delivery of our message (part 2).

In part 1, Moyer begins by telling his own story of being called as an Evangelist (as a youth with a speech impediment) gives reasons for evangelistic preaching and commends and describes expository evangelistic preaching. His method of Evangelistic preaching is rooted in particular biblical texts. Moyer commends especially the gospel of John as the one New Testament book written with non-Christian’s as it’s explicit audience. Nevertheless peculiar challenges arise from preaching Evangelistically from a text. Chief among them is the reality that few passages proclaim the complete plan of salvation, “1) We are Sinners; 2) Christ died for us and rose again; 3) We must trust in Christ. (43). So while Moyer advocates preaching from a text, he encourages preachers to shore up what is missing from a text by explaining the whole plan of salvation when we preach with Evangelistic intent. The rest of part 1 describes how to make the most of the opportunities for evangelism: How do we develop our Evangelistic speaking skills?; how can we pay attention to and speak to non Christians?; when are good times to deliver an evangelistic message? what false assumptions should we avoid?; and how do you make the most out of the setting for your message?

In part 2 Moyer addresses both the content of our message (i.e. the meaning of sin, the nature of repentance, what we are asking non-Christians to do, what is the nature of belief) and our method of delivery. He advocates short, well illustrated messages with judicious use of humor, pedagogically repetitious and aimed at the heart. He gives practical advice about how to craft an expositional evangelistic message and the different forms of invitation and follow-up.

If you have read more than a few of my reviews, you know that one area of sustained critique I have against many Christian authors is their reduction of the gospel to what Dallas Willard calls ‘Sin Management.’ Certainly I agree with Moyer about the importance of personal salvation and the necessity of trusting Jesus for your eternal security, but I find that his definition of this as ‘the gospel’ is reductionist (which isn’t to say it isn’t still very important!). The gospel is nothing less than the proclamation that Jesus fulfills all of Israel’s hopes and that he is King (and by extension Caesar is not). This would paint the gospel, in much more politically challenging, holistic and compelling terms. I hear what Moyer is saying and I want more. As Scot McKnight has demonstrated, not every Evangelistic message we are given in scripture emphasizes our sinfulness, but they all emphasize Jesus.

Nevertheless there is some helpful advice here in crafting messages which speak to non-Christians about their need for a savior (most of his expositional advice is rooted in Haddon Robinson’s approach). I certainly found enough meat here to help me grow as a preacher and help me aim my message at those who do not yet know Jesus.

Show Me How to Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons

How to Illustrate As the companion volume to Show Me How to Preach Evangelistic Sermons this book endeavors to help preacher’s messages connect with non-Christians. Moyer begins by outlining the usefulness of illustrations and gives advice for finding illustrations and the use of humor. Moyer contends that a well illustrated evangelistic sermon has at least fifteen illustrations (for a 30 minute sermon).

Most of this book provides examples of illustrations and advice for their use under three headings: Sin, Substitution and Saving Faith. These correspond to the three essential elements of Evangelistic messages which Moyer describes in the previous volume.

What I like about this book is its discussion on the use of illustrations. I enjoyed reading a number of his examples, but personally would not make much use of them. There are quotes, jokes and stories that illustrate different aspects of Evangelistic messages. While many of these are good, I find my best illustrations have been ones that I have personally gathered. I do not harvest illustrations from books of illustrations because they are less compelling to me, and therefore to my audience. So I read with an eye toward Moyer’s practical advice.

In the end, I find Show Me How to Preach Evangelistic Messages the more helpful book. Both books have good things to say, but if you just get one, get the other one.

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