Book Review: The Brokenhearted Evangelist by Jeremy Walker

Thesis: The most urgent and effective evangelists are those who have known and felt the agony of their own sin and the delight of Christ’s salvation.

Proof: Psalm 51.

Many of us grieve over how pathetic we are at evangelism – both at on-to-one evangelism and preaching evangelistically. Some of us have tried to learn strategies and techniques to improve, without much long-term success.

On the basis of David’s experience in Psalm 51, Jeremy Walker argues, persuasively, that what we need is not better methods but deeper knowledge and experience of our sin and of salvation through Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice. It’s that, says Jeremy, that “makes a Christian not only urgent, earnest, and eager to see men and women saved from their sins but also compelling and convicting.”

It’s after David has passed through the deep waters of tearful conviction and joyful (re)conversion that he says: “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall be converted to you” (Ps. 51:13).

The five chapters answer five questions:

  1. Am I Willing? Our Undeniable Obligation
  2. Am I Effective? Our Necessary Equipment
  3. Am I Committed? Our Appointed Means
  4. Am I Focused? Our Declared Aim
  5. Am I Fruitful? Our Great Expectation

Two section of the book stood out. First, in chapter 1, Jeremy provides eight answers to the question: What are some of the holy pressures that carry us from being brokenhearted over our sin to being brokenhearted evangelists?

  • The reality of our own experience of salvation (if we’ve received the greatest ever gift, how can we not share it?)
  • Our spiritual well-being and joy (God may chastise us for failing to evangelize)
  • The sincerity of our prayers (how can we pay “Your kingdom come” and do nothing to bring it?)
  • The health of Christ’s Church (we can’t rely on just internal church growth)
  • Our obedience to God (whatever our calling, we are called to speak a word for Jesus Christ)
  • The souls of the unsaved (what kind of friend does not share good news with his friends?)
  • The honor of Jesus Christ 
  • The glory of God

Second, in chapter 4, Jeremy pictures the unconverted person as an archery target and asks what circle are we aiming at:

  • The white ring of self-referential evangelism: Aiming to make ourselves look  good or feel good.
  • The black ring of social acceptability: Aiming to control or restrain a person’s sin.
  • The blue ring of good citizenship: Aiming to help someone be a better citizen, father, wife, employee, etc.
  • The red ring of good churchmanship: Aiming to get people to become members of our church.
  • The bullseye of conversion to Christ: Nothing else will do!

I believe this book will help many Gospel archers aim better, by helping us to aim the arrow first at ourselves.

The Brokenhearted Evangelist by Jeremy Walker. Apart from regularly contributing to Ref21, Jeremy also posts at his own blog, The Wanderer.