Dr. J.D. Payne is the Associate Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism and Director of the Center for North American Missions and Church Planting at SBTS. He was brand new when I was finishing up my Masters of Divinity in Missions and Evangelism. I took him for a church planting class knowing nothing about him.
I liked that he was doing some fresh thinking. He challenged my views of planting rather than just going through the motions. It's been a privilege to stay in touch here and there since I've left SBTS, and I jumped at the chance to get a look at his new book, Evangelism: A Biblical Response to Today's Questions.
I love books on evangelism, have read dozens, and frequently go back to reread or review notes and highlights in them. A huge encouragement to me. I find most every book on the subject helpful in some way, even when not good on every subject. J.D. Payne has added a completely helpful book of substance to my library with this volume.
Some evangelism books give you a particular approach or model. Some are written in a certain era and are flavored with how the church views evangelism at that time and are dated. A few stand the test of time and become a resource for a long time. JI Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is one of those. I believe Evangelism will be one of those.
It has 33 short chapters answering basic questions about evangelism moving toward more complex questions. There's a fiction dialogue at the beginning of each chapter between Roberto and Mark, to set up the chapter. For someone in my church who hasn't done much evangelism, those dialogues will be quite helpful.
The true greatness of JD's book is that it's a dialogue on evangelism. Even if you skip the Roberto and Mark discussion, it's treated as a progressive discussion where the next logical question is posed and answered. It's answered biblically and theologically, yet simply. That's a good word for this book. Simple. Or, straightforward, plain, without confusion or distraction. It's a non-flashy, to-the-point, solid book on evangelism. And I'm thankful for it.
Looking at my bookshelf with dozens of evangelistic books on it I realize that this may be the most helpful volume to give to a growing Christian in my church to lead them toward what a life of personal evangelism should be. And thankfully, as is so often absent, it has a couple of indexes in the back for easy reference.
I very much like this book and will recommend it to my church. I wish it dealt with a few things of particular interest to me (evangelistic preaching, open-air issues), but almost no books deal with those. That said, I know it will be a handy reference and refresher for me on a number of issues on evangelism in the years to come. If you are looking for something new and trendy, this book isn't it. Evangelism is as serious as the Gospel and as practical as a conversation. Pick up a copy.