Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review

Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk
Dale Fincher & Jonalyn Fincher

2010 has been a big year for Dale and Jonalyn Fincher. They’ve given birth to a son, and just recently released their first collaborative book. Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk serves as an instruction manual that incorporates Bible study and cultural analysis to encourage gentle and sincere evangelism. Peppered throughout are many of their own examples of conversations they’ve had with people they encounter—everyone from old friends to fellow airplane passengers.

Broken into well-organized sections, Coffee Shop Conversations is easy to read, and very informative. In the first of three sections, the authors gently remind us of the purpose of evangelism. “Talking about Jesus isn’t a contest. For years we thought sharing our faith meant saying the right things to get people saved. But whenever we treat our friends as problems to solve or objects to fix, we are not relating to them as people” (22). With humility as the foundation, the authors share a list of manners we should mind while evangelizing, as well as some sure-fire conversation stoppers to avoid.

In the second section, the authors dig into scripture and provide more examples of ways to engage others in dialogue about faith. They clarify definitions of words in the Christian lexicon that are commonly used but misinterpreted, like faith, love, sin, forgiveness, and glory. Knowing the intended meaning of these words in the context of the Bible can leave less room for miscommunication, and make more room for a clear picture of Christ’s role in our lives.

The third and final section addresses the red herring topics, like evolution, that sometimes serve to distract us from the big picture: sharing the gospel. “Sometimes we forget we’re inviting people to Jesus and not to our brand of Christianity” (162). Rather than following the red herring, the authors encourage us to bring the focus back to Christ’s love.

In the chapter titled, “Molehills That Are Mountains” the authors address some issues they observed to be driving people away from Christianity—issues most Christians aren’t paying enough attention to—like sexism, hypocrisy, and abuse of power in the church. Their friends have cited reasons in these categories as cause to reject Jesus and his followers. The authors like to think these people “have not rejected Jesus, but rather rejected a particular version of Christianity”. For this reason, they’ve “been studying how to talk about these topics in a helpful, biblical, loving manner” (174).

Talking about faith can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and unnerving for people on both ends of the conversation. Dale and Jonalyn Fincher are thoughtful, sincere, and well researched in their approach. They say, “We want this book to serve not merely as a collection of apologetic tools, but as a road map guiding you toward freedom to be yourself as you talk about Jesus” (218). Take their advice into your next conversation with a loved one or complete stranger. Be winsome, gentle, accommodating, and understanding. Most importantly, be an example of someone who knows Christ.

To hear the Dale and Jonalyn Fincher discuss Coffee Shop Conversations go to:

*Review copy provided by publisher. 

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