Don’t Deny The Power Foreword
A friend of mine who has worked in the oil industry tells me of a saying there that runs like this: ‘The first generation of an oil company is made up of oil finders, the second generation is made up of managers, the third generation is made up of accountants and the fourth-generation, lawyers. There is no fifth generation.’ It’s a saying that could be easily transferred to churches and even denominations. It’s all too easy for us as individuals and organisations to slip into a state of spiritual flabbiness where, although we seem to be believing the same things we always did, we’re not actually living them out in the way we once did. It’s a common but ultimately fatal disease. In the last few decades the evangelical faith has made enormous progress in Britain and elsewhere. We now have a formidable scholarship, tremendous conferences, stunning musicians and brilliant websites. We are involved in social issues and are – quite commonly – treated seriously by politicians and the media. It’s really encouraging. And yet sometimes I look around and I wonder, ‘Where’s the fire?’ It seems to me that in the same way that it is possible for oil companies to lose that most fundamental ability of finding oil, so it is possible for evangelical Christians to lose the ability to share the gospel. And in the same way, an evangelical faith that is no longer evangelistic will very soon cease to be evangelical.
It’s on that basis I welcome this book. It seems to me full of what you might call Vitamin E, a substance that is utterly essential for a vigorous life.
There is Energy here. We all know the sad definition of those later stages of life where the ‘get up and go has got up and gone’. Sadly, there are many Christians for whom the phrase can be used in a spiritual sense. Well there is a lot of energy here, and it’s a great reminder that if we believe the good news of Christ and know something of the presence and power of his Spirit, then we need to be those who are active and lively in sharing the gospel.
There is Enthusiasm here. We need reminding that the root of the words evangelical and evangelism is the Greek word for good news. Why is it that we need to remind Christians to do evangelism? How come that when a minister mentions the idea of ‘doing evangelism’ you can see Christians looking like rabbits caught in headlamps! We need to recover that zeal for sharing the good news; an unquenchable desire to reach people for Jesus.
There is Excitement here. The way some people do evangelism you’d think they were working for undertakers selling prepaid funerals. That’s not how Terry does it, and it’s not how we should do it. The attitude we should have to the gospel has never been better expressed than by William Tyndale nearly 500 years ago when he wrote: ‘Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance, and leap for joy.’ Exactly!
Finally, there is Experience here. In the final part of this book there are some excellent and helpful ideas on the nuts and bolts of sharing the gospel. Terry walks the talk and, because he does, it’s worthwhile hearing him talk about the walk.
It’s my prayer that God will shake us up from our ‘vitamin-deficiency’ induced apathy and get us up out of our seats to share the good news we have in Christ. May this book be a tool that God uses for just that purpose!
Revd Canon J.John