Lee Strobel's book shows Christians and Christian leaders how their churches can become effective in evangelism -- only by understanding the perspectives of the unchurched.
The value is that if we can understand the unchurched a bit better maybe we will be more at ease with the Word presentation.
This is a practical book with many lists and their explanation. This is NOT a Thelogical work. Your Theology is left to you. He is simply giving some new and some old ways of doing evangelization but seeing the attempt through the unsaved eyes.
Chapter 10 has a list of 7 things a church should do; Chapter 9 has a list to help the spouse that is saved and married to an unsaved person; Chapter 7 shows there 3 areas or steps that a person takes on his journey to salvation. These lists alone helps you relax in knowing that even if they do not accept the Lord when you speak to them, you may see the progress they have made by moving closer to acceptance. Chapter 5 has 15 observations on the unsaved.
This book is not a detailed step by step way to lead someone to the Lord. It is more a book to help us understand our target so we can be better prepared and less apprehensive in our task.
Christians often speak of the ministry of Jesus as "incarnational" - where He became one of us. He became like us to save us. Strobel's book gives some good advice for how Christians can do the same. We often seek to evangelize without understanding our audience.
I would caution that this book does make sweeping generalizations. Rather than pigeon-holing every unchurched person you meet and thinking you understand them because you have read this book, you can simply take the time to listen and get to know the person as an individual, and see where God leads you. This would be "Meeting Harry Where He Lives," and is a great application of the book.
One chapter stands out as particularly helpful - the chapter on living with an unchurched spouse. Strobel understands this well because his wife came to Christ many years before he did. His insights are valuable as he shares the sense of loss and disorientation that an unchurched spouse goes through when their mate becomes a Christian. Christians may think that the unchurched spouse is merely hostile or hard-hearted, but in fact, the unchurched spouse may be feeling a great sense of loss as his or her mate's affections for him are transferred to Christ and the church.Read more ›
On the downside, this book (like most on the subject) takes a narrative approach to each chapter. Some chapters have useful take-away summaries. What I would have liked but did not find in the chapters were:
1. Discussion or review questions at the end of each chapter
2. Application exercise(s) at the end of each chapter
So, in my view, this book fell short on providing clear, easy to adopt "how to" ways to build effective relationship evangelism habits.
A promising new book that I may use is Evangelism Outside The Box (Rick Richardson, 2000).
Older books that have worked well for me in teaching others are: (roughly in order of preference): Power Evangelism (John Wimber, 1992), Witnessing Without Fear (Bill Bright, 1987), Out of the Salt Shaker (Rebecca Pippert).