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The Master Plan of Evangelism Paperback – April 1, 2006
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From the Back Cover
"Few books have had as great an impact on the cause of world evangelization in our generation as Robert Coleman's The Master Plan of Evangelism."--Billy Graham
It all started when Jesus called a few men to follow him and share God's message with their neighbors. We are called to do the same. But evangelism can be difficult--even intimidating. With all the evangelism resources available, where should you turn to find advice on how to share the Good News with others? Robert E. Coleman says the answers aren't found in TV evangelism, easy-evangelism guidebooks, or the latest marketing techniques. Rather, he looks to the Bible, to the ultimate example found in Jesus Christ.
For more than forty years this classic, biblical look at evangelism has challenged and instructed over three million readers. Now repackaged for a new generation, The Master Plan of Evangelism is as fresh and relevant as ever. Join the movement and discover how you can minister to the people God brings into your life.
About the Author
Robert E. Coleman is Distinguished Professor of Evangelism and Discipleship at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He also served as dean of the Billy Graham International Schools of Evangelism as well as director of the Billy Graham Center Institute of Evangelism at Wheaton College.
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Top customer reviews
A book review of The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert E. Coleman, 1962
Reviewed by Joe Chiappetta, 2016
Get this book if you want to change the world for the better. It contains life-changing insights into how Jesus operated to prepare his disciples for world evangelism. With application of the simple yet challenging principles discussed, you will know how to invest in people and spread the good news around the world. This is totally worth your time to read and put into practice.
In The Master Plan of Evangelism, the author, Robert Coleman, does an amazing job at presenting Jesus' ministry strategy from a big picture level. Yet Coleman does so in a way that makes the strategy digestible for replication. That is the brilliance of this book; it is a true and effective outline of Jesus' methods that anyone can imitate. He even makes the point that Jesus' methods are so powerful, that they work well even when non-Christians use them.
Conversely, when people use Jesus' teaching in a partial, uncoordinated, independent, pick-and-choose manner, the results are less inspiring, to say the least. Coleman even emphasizes that religious groups should not assume that the average untrained member is qualified to lead things without first being trained to imitate Jesus. The key is having trained leaders who can replicate what and how Jesus did things. That is how ministry really spreads.
The Master Plan of Evangelism is a very short book, yet emanating with power. In fact, Coleman exemplifies the much sought-after trait of being brief and powerful. I appreciate things being broken down in digestible chunks, and Coleman does so in his book by turning Jesus' methods into eight overarching tactics that were consistent throughout his ministry. These can be seen as guiding principles that were underlying in his ministry. They that are completely integrated, yet can also be distinctly described and replicable today. All eight fall under Jesus' statement "I am the way..." from John 14:6. In other words, there is no Christian way without wholehearted, complete imitation of Jesus' way.
The eight principles are as follows:
1. Selection: Men were his method.
2. Association: He stayed with them.
3. Consecration: He required obedience.
4. Impartation: He gave himself away.
5. Demonstration: He showed them how to live.
6. Delegation: He assigned them work.
7. Supervision: He kept check on them.
8. Reproduction: He expected them to reproduce.
A careful examination of these principles can be quite convicting. Since Jesus is the way, and therefore imitation of him is the way, then we all have to ask ourselves three questions:
1. Have I been sufficiently trained to do these eight principles of Jesus?
2. Am I personally doing each one of these eight principles on an ongoing basis? Note that it is not enough to merely agree with the principles of Jesus; we need to do them. That is true Christianity.
3. Am I calling and training others to do these principles of Jesus?
This is a personal assessment that all of us must make and reassess on an ongoing basis. Those who answer "yes," and whom God would agree to their "yes" on all three questions will be the mighty revolutionaries that will spread the good news all around the world, as part of the master's master plan of evangelism.
Coleman's book is squarely in the classical American evangelical mold, circa 1950: come to Jesus and have a personal relationship with him. (Billy Graham wrote the foreword.). If that sentence resonates with you, you will probably enjoy the book's map of how-to-think-and-relate. It's a bit dated that way: since then, The Prophet Bono (yes, that's mildly ironic) and Pastor Rob Bell and others have pried a bit at the evangelical shell and found other ways of articulating the gospel, less ahistorical and more responsive to human events and real-world concerns. And in theology serious questions have been raised about Evangelical root assumptions about scripture.
But that's an internal conflict in Evangelicalism and not my issue. I'm more interested in the book from a secular perspective.
What's best in the book is it's open-heartedness. Like most personal-relationship evangelism books, it minimizes the scandal of dogma and doctrine in favor of evangelizing-discipling relationships. Coleman goes so far as to say that Jesus himself was his own curriculum and pedagogical method: more on that in a minute. He stresses that love and interaction are the soul of both conversion and growth in a particular faith, contrasting that with church programs.
To Coleman's credit, this was a challenging viewpoint to American Christians at the time of his writing as much as now: it challenged the white-flight, conservative peace-and-prosperity tendencies of some white evangelicals in the 1950's and 1960's when the book was written. (This is no small thing: Google Billy Graham and the "Night the Ropes Came Down" crusade in Jackson, Mississippi, an event that's in keeping with Coleman's views about Christianity.)
Unfortunately, Coleman / American evangelicalism aren't always coherent in this simplicity, and for me this was the chief weakness of The Master Plan.
To say that Jesus was his own curriculum is to minimize the fact that he did offer a number of propositions about The Kingdom of God that are sometimes hard to swallow: he said so himself, and chastised those who called him "Lord" but didn't do what he said. The "personal relationship" formula that Coleman espouses early and often then is a half-truth: personal discipline and commitment to "relationships" are essential for cultivating mature Christians, but there is substantial propositional content to that maturity; so it is not the case that there isn't an objective portion on the test, and this can be subjected to (sometimes withering) rational analysis independently of a life of commitment.
Having said all of which, the book is a tremendous and warm-hearted artifact of one wing of the white American evangelical mind from the 1940's to the 1980's, with all of its beauties and tragic simplicity intact.