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Worldview Conversations: How to Share Your Faith and Keep Your Friends Paperback – May 6, 2011
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About the Author
Stanley J. Ward serves as the Biblical Worldview director at the Brook Hill School in Bullard, TX. His education includes a BA from Oklahoma Baptist University, a MDIV from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and additional graduate studies in both Biblical languages and the Humanities. He is currently a PhD candidate at Dallas Baptist University, writing about how leaders can use stories to help followers internalize values.
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Soon-to-be-Doctor Ward gives us practical advice about holding conversations with non-Christians. His methods focus on understanding and compassion, not on "scoring points" or "winning" arguments. He deftly explains the important difference between the "conversion" approach and the "conversation" approach.
This volume is peppered with vignettes which illustrate his personal experiences developing and employing his method. These stories show real-world examples of success and failure of various approaches, and show us all how we can better view our friends and acquaintances.
I would suggest this should be on every Christian leader's bookshelf, especially those who deal with people between the ages of 12 and 25. I would further suggest that "Conversations" classes should be developed by local church congregations to help us all implement the wisdom which came from Stanley Ward's experiences. Lastly, I would suggest those who study this book also load the Napkin Theology videos, also from Dr. Ward, onto their mobile devices for quick and easy illustration when in discussion with non-Christians.
However, what many of the worldview/apologetics books overlook is that it takes a listening ear to hear what our opposition is saying. Furthermore, in our zeal to win over souls by nearly combative evangelism, we often forget that we are sharing the gospel with people--fellow human beings. (Yeah, I know; many who oppose Christians are anything but civil and some treat us as if we're less than human.)
Stanley J. Ward's book reminds us that when we share the gospel, we are dealing with fellow human beings. Yes, he encourages readers to know their faith and faith story, but he also gives some helpful reminders about human communication and the skill of listening. Evangelism is about winning souls, but the job of conversion belongs to the Holy Spirit. Ward explains that we ought to focus on the conversation (which he describes as a process that occurs over the course of several discussions), and leave the conversions to the Holy Spirit.
This does not mean that Ward soft hands the conflict that often occurs between believer and unbeliever. He just chooses to focus on the communication process so that meaningful conversations can take place... and continue over time. He's not saying that all evangelism is "friendship evangelism," but he is certainly saying that we interact with non-believers in a friendly manner.
This book is a short, readable, and honest addition to the ever-growing catalog of books on worldview. Ward allows us brief glimpses into his own journey as a Christ-follower and a sharer of the gospel by including "conversations" that he's had with students at the school where he teaches. Along the way, we see that he has grown into the conversational approach--and it hasn't always been pretty. If we take heed to his argument about focusing more on the conversations we can have with unbelievers and less on worrying so about converting them, then his book serves its purpose.
I give the book four stars because while I agree with Ward's conversational approach, I think more information on addressing specific worldviews would be helpful. Still, he does include a good annotated bibliography of various worldview books for further study. I suspect that a companion volume that helps address the nuances and beliefs of various worldviews is in the works.